Chicken satay and peanut sauce — sweet, crunchy, delicious

At a friend’s home in October, members of our local photography club gathered to shoot pictures, snack, chat and enjoy the fading rays of an Indian summer. In addition to the many fabulous desserts and pasta salads was Thai chicken satay — hunks of delicious chicken marinated in coconut milk, curry powder and . . . some other spices we weren’t totally aware of. A kind friend told us a brief outline of her family recipe.

Spencer, my adventurous boyfriend, is never one to back away from a culinary challenge. After feasting on the chicken satay and sharing appreciative glances, Spence began mentally preparing that tasty meal for us in the future.

It just took a few months for it to come to fruition.

On Monday night, I was on “peanut sauce” duty. Because what’s delicious chicken without something to dip it in? Buffalo wings need bleu cheese. Grilled chicken needs barbeque sauce. It’s the way of the world.

Spencer prepared the chicken satay marinade on Sunday, leaving our dinner to settle in the fridge for 24 hours. The recipe below only calls for two hours of chillin’, but I can attest that the day-long yum bath didn’t hurt our meal one bit.

So while he was skewering all the chicken onto sticks, I was pulsing a blender full of onion and minced garlic. We’re not spicy eaters, so we left out the hot chili pepper — but I’m sure that would have given it a nice kick! After the mixture was pureed (and quite intense smelling), into the sauce pan it went. I stirred while trying not to get hot, popping peanut sauce all over my torso, then we added in peanut butter (crunchy!), vinegar and lots of sugar. I like peanut sauce to be more sweet than tangy, so I might have been a little heavy-handed with the sugar crystals. A cup of water was the last thing into the mixture, and then it was left to simmer . . . and that’s it!

Not bad at all, really.

Monday brought a freezing rain/sleet mixture to our neck of the woods in Maryland, but that didn’t deter Spencer from starting up the ol’ grill. The man is primal. Donning our coats, hats and gloves, off to the backyard we went — and the satay was placed over an open flame. It took about a half hour for them to cook, I’d say, which wasn’t bad . . . except we had to keep running into the garage to keep warm. Spencer’s mom, Alex (hi Alex!), called, and we were giggling like children while trying not to freeze and checking our slabs of meat like cave people.

I felt like a cave person.

But it was worth it. The chicken satay was delicious — creamy, but with a nice kick from the curry powder Spencer added to the marinade, plus all the other delicious spices. The peanut sauce had a good blend of sweet and savory (the perfect combination). We made rice to accompany the meal and added in a little curry powder for some color. Satay is a bit ambitious for a week night, but worked out well because Spencer had enough enthusiasm to prep the chicken on a Sunday.

For me? I’m more of a pour-some-spaghetti-in-a-pot and heat-up-some-canned-tomato-sauce sort of girl.

Oh, and cupcakes. I could totally do cupcakes for dinner.

Better stick with Spence so I don’t starve.

Chicken Satay

Recipe from The Perfect Pantry

1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
A pinch of fresh ground black pepper
2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices
12 long bamboo skewers, or other skewers of your choice
Peanut sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together everything except the chicken, until the ingredients are incorporated and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the chicken, and transfer all to a Ziploc bag. Squeeze out the air, and seal the bag. Massage the chicken until it’s coated all around, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat your grill to high heat, or prepare a stovetop grill pan. Thread 4-6 pieces of chicken on each skewer, keeping the chicken bunched toward the bottom end of the skewer. Grill the chicken, turning frequently, until crisp, 2 minutes per side. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping. Serves 6-8 (can be halved or doubled).

Thai Peanut Sauce

Recipe from

4 teaspoons corn oil
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon hot chili pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup of water

In a blender, combine corn oil, onion, garlic and hot chili pepper; blend for 1 minute

Empty the mixture into a saucepan and place over low heat until the mixture starts releasing aroma. Add peanut butter and mix well over low heat.

Add water and let it simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in vinegar and sugar; continue to simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more vinegar and sugar if the mixture does not have the sour and sweet taste.

Place sauce in a shallow plate for satay dipping or pour over fresh salad.