Satays are delicious morsels of well seasoned meats threaded on bamboo skewers and grilled over hot coals. It is one of Malaysia's ubiquitous street foods. Eating satay for supper is one of the things I enjoy doing most when I'm there. It is not only the food itself but the whole experience of outdoor dining in the full Malaysian sense that excites me. The warm air, the cooking smells and the jovial mood all combine to make an atmosphere that cannot be recreated elsewhere.
Although there's a lot of food on offer, I always choose to eat satay. It is so delicious and, to me, it embodies all the flavours that I like in Malaysian cuisine. It is highly aromatic, spicy, and sweet. We leave it to the locals to choose the best one in town.
2 medium onions
4 large garlic cloves
2" x 2" piece of ginger
1 red finger chilli (more if you like it hotter)
1 stalk of lemon grass
1 1/2 tsps. cumin seeds
1 tbsps. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsps. coriander
1 tbsp. turmeric powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsps. fish sauce
3 tbsps. brown sugar
2 tbsps. oil
Roughly chop the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and lemon grass.
Grind the cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. I always use whole cumin seeds because it has a fresher, zestier taste than the ready ground cumin.
Blend everything in a food processor until smooth.
Ingredients for the satay chicken:
6 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
1/3 c. of the previously prepared spice paste
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
bamboo skewers, soaked in water
Cut the chicken into 1" x 1" cubes.
Season with 1/3 cup of the spice paste and 2 tbsps. of light soy sauce. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Thread four pieces in each bamboo skewer.
Drizzle with oil before grilling on the barbecue.
Ingredients for the satay sauce:
1/4 c. oil
the rest of the previously prepared spice paste
1 tbsp. shrimp or anchovy paste
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 c. coarsely chopped peanuts
1 c. coconut milk
1/4 c. water
Heat up hot pan or wok and add the oil. When the oil is hot enough, add in the spice paste, shrimp or anchovy paste and sugar.
Turn the heat down and fry the paste mixture, stirring occasionally. It is ready when it is reduced and thickened and exudes oil.
Add the coconut milk and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the peanuts and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Check the seasonings. The sauce should be thick enough to cling to whatever is dipped in it. You may add some water if it gets too thick.
Accompaniments for the satay:
compressed rice cubes
cucumber slices or wedges
onion wedges or chunks
Compressed rice or ketupat is rice cooked in woven leaf baskets. They are cooked for quite some time so that the grains expand, stick together and gets compressed in the baskets. They come out in whole square blocks which are then cut into cubes for dipping in the sauce.
To simplify things, I just pressed cooked rice into little round ice cube molds (oil them first). I find raw onions too strong tasting so I grilled them briefly. Everything gets dipped in the sauce. My favourite is the cucumber. The coolness of the cucumber just goes so well with the spicy sauce.
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