NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
Satay is a dish that originated in Indonesia, and can be found in many Asian restaurants as an appetizer. It’s basically meat on a stick, so it has a universal appeal. Making an authentic satay dish is easy, provided you have access to the ingredients (galangal, turmeric, and lemongrass in particular).
Five or six boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (we used breasts)
1/2 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 stalks of lemongrass, tops and bottoms removed, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground galangal
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
2 tsp coconut oil
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 tsp salt
about 20 8-10″ bamboo skewers
Cut the chicken lengthwise into pieces that are one inch wide, set them aside. Blend the rest of the ingredients (minus the skewers!) until they make a smooth paste. Keep an eye on the lemongrass, because that especially needs to be well-ground.
Put the marinade in a gallon-sized ziploc bag with the chicken pieces, and marinate for two to four hours in the fridge.
Soak the skewers in cold water for 30 minutes, and then take out the chicken. Skewer the chicken pieces in a weaving pattern, piercing them about every inch or so as you can see above. Reserve the marinade.
Grill the chicken on a med/high heat on the grill, turning the pieces every five minutes. When you first turn the chicken, brush on the reserved marinade. It should take about 10-15 minutes altogether to grill them – the easiest way to tell if they’re cooked through is if the meat is firm and not squishy. Serve immediately with homemade satay sauce.