The King of Thai Street Foods!
Prep: 15 min // Marinate: 1 hr // Cook: 10 min
What is it?
Satay is a seasoned, not spicy, marinated, skewered and then grilled meat (sometimes the vegan version comes with tofu), served with cooling cucumber salad and peanut sauce (which can be just a little spicy) as sides. It is so fragrant, succulent and sweet that always blows my senses away. I like to think of it as South East Asia's equivalent of Greek souvlaki or Japanese yakitori. It can be served as a starter, it's magnificent and handsome on sharing feasts but can also proudly stand alone as main dish next to a portion of aromatic rice. I dare to say that this dish, weirdly, made a perfect fit with my peculiar Mediterranean taste palate. No wonder why it stole my soul at first sight during my travels to the far East back in 2005, and got me hooked into Thai cuisine.
The roots are said to be somewhere in Southeast Asia. Legend says some Indonesian street vendors transformed the renowned Indian and Middle Eastern kebabs into South East Asia's equivalent version and spread the recipe across the borders to Thailand.
A very easy recipe and convenient way to prepare Satay skwewers and impress your guests! Use the amazing Lobo Satay seasoning mix and you will not look back again. Lobo is an authentic Thai product you can find in Asian stores or on Amazon by clicking my affiliate links. In my recipe below, I am also listing the method to make satay at home with your local-store-bought ingredients and spices. But generally, I recommend going for the Lobo spice mix. It will save you time and effort and it's 100% failsafe.
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the Chicken skewers:
500g Chicken Fillet
12 bamboo skewers
1 Lobo Satay Spice Mix (sachet A) or see below how to make your own
60ml Coconut Milk
For the Peanut Sauce:
For the Cucumber relish:
1/2 Cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and diced
1 small shallot, diced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and diced
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tsp palm sugar (or just plain sugar)
Make Your Own Satay Seasoning
The alternative to buying the fantastic Lobo Satay seasoning mix is to make your own fantastic seasoning mix! Grind the following spices with your pestle and mortar: 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 lemongrass sticks (thinly sliced), 1 tsp turmeric, a drizzle of vegetable oil, salt and a little palm sugar (or plain brown sugar) until a paste is formed.
Here's how to prepare your own peanut sauce: Mix the following in a saucepan over low heat until well blended and bubbling: 4 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp red curry paste, 4 tsp palm (or plain brown) sugar, 2 tbsp Maepranom (or any other) tamarind paste, 4 tbsp peanut butter and 200ml coconut milk.
Cut the chicken into strips (or bite-size chunks depending on your preference). Prepare the marinade by mixing the satay mix with the coconut milk and rubbing it over your chicken. Cover and marinate for 1 hour or until you prepare the rest of the side dishes.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare the side dishes while soaking the skewers in cold water for around 30 min (this will prevent them from burning when under the grill)
Prepare the cucumber relish: pour the vinegar with the sugar into a saucepan and heat it until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool down for 15 min and then soak the chopped cucumber, shallot and chilli. Set aside until serving.
Prepare the peanut sauce: Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and add 1 tbsp of red curry paste (if using) and the sauce mix. Add the coconut milk and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 12-15 min, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread the strips (or chunks) onto the skewers.
Brush them with a little oil and grill them under your oven's grill (or in a griddled pan) for 3-4 min each side until cooked through.
Just before serving, reheat the peanut sauce and serve the skewers with the sauce and the cucumber salad on the side.
Another serving option is to make it a full-blown meal by serving the chicken skewers over a bowl of rice or noodles, topped with the peanut sauce and some chopped coriander, with the cucumber relish on the side. Yummy!
Tip: If you go for the mains option, I suggest you serve it over some homemade coconut rice that you can easily make by boiling 1 cup of rice with 1.5 cup of water and the 200ml coconut milk leftover from this recipe ;-)
Below you will find my favourite authentic products (affiliate links) I used to cook and shoot this recipe. By clicking and purchasing through these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to keep the site up to date and do more research on food, ingredients and photography. Thanks for reading!
Lobo is certainly one of the best original Thai brands out there that is available in local Asian superstores or Amazon. Number 2 reason I like Lobo Satay spice mix is the packaging (being so intensely aromatic is number 1). So the spices are not just packed in a paper package, but also enclosed in sealed pouches to keep fresh. This specific Satay spice mix comes also with recipe instructions on the back, so you don't even need to look at my post to cook a nice Satay. Go for the value pack of 6 because I'm sure you will want to eat it again and again.
I like these bamboo skewers with the nice little handle providing a good grip (especially for kids). Go for something not less than 15cm long. The ones I use for Greek souvlaki barbeque are 25-30cm long, but I cut them shorter for satay.
Red Curry Paste
I love the Nonya Secrets brand, I discovered this brand accidentally at a food festival in London. I am addicted to them ever since. Their pastes and sauces are simply divine! And a little more expensive than their competitors for that matter... I usually buy the multi-selection value pack from their online shop, but you can find their products in deli markets (and Amazon) too. For the satay, the Panang paste gives an amazing flavour note to the peanut sauce, but any red curry paste would do. Please do yourself a favour and buy some authentic Thai brands like Maesri curry paste or the Lobo pastes which are simply divine!
Bought a pot of curry paste and used only a tablespoon or two? No worries, there are some inspired recipes on Nonya Secrets website but also check some of my recipes with Thai curry paste here.
It goes without saying that succeeding in this dish means using the best coconut milk. My first preference is the Aroy D or Chaokoh brands that we used in my cooking school in Thailand and it is definitely recommended by Thai chefs due to its intense coconut consistency. The tinned product is cheaper and usually less in coconut extract content (around 50-60%) whereas the tetra-pack version is richer in coconut (70-80%).