Tiny pieces of meat grilled over an open flame are found the world over. The Turks have their kebab, the Greeks have their souvlaki, and the Japanese have their yakitori. In Southeast Asia, we call this treat satay: thin, marinated strips of meat on bamboo skewers, cooked over a flaming grill. Chicken or beef is the preferred meat, but it is the marinade that makes satay distinct. For an authentic and delicious flavor, grilling the chicken satay over charcoal flames is best, but they also taste good when cooked in the oven. Watching a satay chef at work is truly entertaining. Standing over the hot grill, he holds a palm leaf fan in one hand to fan the fire and with the other he skillfully turns over several skewers at a time to ensure that each meat stick is evenly cooked. Serve these sticks of juicy meat piping hot with cubed or sliced cucumber, onions, and peanut sauce.
Makes 20 sticks
1 ½ inch fresh galangal, chopped
2 stalk of fresh lemongrass, thinly sliced
6 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 fresh red bird’s-eye chilies
1½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1½ teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, sliced into 1 inch strips
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before using
2 tablespoon oil mixed with 2 tablespoon water for basting
1 cucumber, sliced
1 small red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
Peanut sauce (page 000)
1. Begin my preparing the spice paste – put galangal, lemongrass, shallots, chilies turmeric, coriander, sugar and salt in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Add a little water to facilitate the blending to achieve a smooth paste.
2. Combine the blended paste with chicken in a bowl and knead well in order for the spice paste to penetrate the meat. Wrap or cover the bowl and allow marinate for 12 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Thread the chicken pieces or satay onto each bamboo skewer ensuing the tip of the skewer is not exposed. For convenience, satay can be made up to this stage several hours ahead of cooking time – well covered with a foil wrap and refrigerated.
4. Heat the grill to high. Grill the skewered chicken basting lightly with oil and water mixture to keep the meat moist. Turn frequently to prevent the meat from burning. Meat should be slightly charred on the outside and cooked inside, about 7 minutes.
5. Serve hot with peanut sauce, cubed cucumbers and sliced red onion.