Because of the unseasonally nice weather, I’ve done a few barbecues lately. I cooked chicken satay a couple of nights ago for some friends, one of whom has just asked for my recipe. Since I’ve gone to all the bother of writing it up, I thought I’d put it here…
Heat some oil quite hot (almost smoking), add crushed garlic, let it cook a little and then a couple of teaspoons of violent Thai red curry paste (cheap stuff in plastic tubs with Thai writing on preferred, supermarket stuff is too mild), stir and cook that for 1 minute or so, then add coconut milk (I use a whole can). Bring the coconut milk to the boil, stirring in the curry paste as you do. Then add (crunchy, ideally) peanut butter, half a jar or so, more if you want. It’ll look kinda thin, but don’t worry, it thickens. Keep stirring occasionally and reduce the heat so its bubbling but not hard. Once it starts to thicken add a gloop of orange juice and thicken again, repeat a few times, stirring as often as is needed to stop it sticking. This stuff can sit forever so once you are happy with the flavour you can just turn it off and reheat just before you eat. Note, you will get a fuckload of oil separating out – just stir it in, it stays mixed for a while 🙂
There are various marinades, but the one I used was black treacle, ginger, spring onion, lemon juice and soy (go easy on the soy, just to add a bit of salt, really). I never do this early enough – the longer the better.
Cumin and coriander (seeds or leaves) also go nicely in the marinade.
Obviously the chicken gets cubed and dumped in the mariande, and after sitting for a while, threaded on skewers and barbecued. I usually do boiled rice, cucumber salad (slice a cucumber as thinly as you can, add salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar, let it sit for a few hours, stirring occasionally), and barbecue a few vegetables (courgettes, mushrooms, aubergine, for example) to go with it.
When I was a kid and Thai restaurants were just appearing in London, satay was always served with cold cubes of compressed rice and coconut. This seems to have gone entirely out of fashion (I’ve never tried making them either), which seems a shame.
Translations for the Yanks: courgettes = zucchini, aubergine = eggplant, coriander leaf = cilantro, peanut butter = peanuts, peanut oil, salt, sugar – no palm oil, apple juice or other perversions designed to allow the manufacturer to claim “no added sugar”. If you’re a wholefood fan you might need to add salt and sugar to the satay sauce.