Thai Chicken Sate

Chicken Sate

Thai food is masterful at that balance of flavours and the simple and delicious chicken sates I cooked yesterday are ample evidence.

2 kilo of chicken thigh fillets (skin off and boneless) cut in to four even sized pieces of chicken.

12 – 14 sate sticks that you will pre-soak for at least 20 minutes in tepid water (this will help to prevent them burning when you cook) I put four pieces of chicken per stick, so with a little dexterous calculation you can confirm your needs.

Marinade the cut up pieces for four hours and a bit longer if you can (up to 12 hours).

1 medium sized red eschalot (or Asian onion, you can find them in most Asian grocers) chopped finely

1 x 2 – 3 cm piece of ginger cut up roughly (peel or don’t peel if the ginger is young)

1 whole lemon grass, cut from the base to about 4 cm into the green part and finely sliced.

1 x 2 cm piece of galangal or powder, about 1 level tspn

1 x 2 cm piece of turmeric or 1 tspn of powdered turmeric.

1 red chilli the long one, remove the seeds and cut up similar to the onion

2 – 3 cloves of garlic peel and chop

1 tablespoon of palm sugar

1 tspn coriander seed 1 tspn cumin seed (dry toast these and add them to the above)

Place all of the above into your mortar and pound until you have a paste. You can go the easy route and toss it all into the blender and blend until a paste.


4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

3 tablespoons normal soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

and blend well, place this and all the chicken in a lidded container and allow to marinade for 4 – 12 hours… for the longer times I would suggest refrigeration, for shorter periods I don’t refrigerate.

I like to cook this over charcoal (It’s done this way in Thailand) so at this point I light the charcoal fire in the old Middle East style cooker I always use for BBQ and allow a good hour for the charcoal to get to the right heat (they should be white/grey, not black) and in the meanwhile I thread the chicken onto the pre-soaked sticks and set aside.

This is the point where I should be telling you how to make the Peanut Sate sauce… its not difficult its true, but it is a fiddle, essentially you should repeat the above with the addition of a souring agent (I use tamarind) and add as well 3 tablespoons of water, when all this is blended, place on the heat and cook all the ingredients for about 10 minutes at  simmer, when all is cooked, add two to three tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter. This can thicken things way to much in which case you can add some more liquids (fish sauce, soy, water in proportion) and thin it back. The true Thai version, like its brothers/sisters all through South East Asian would be made with fresh raw/roasted peanuts and then pounded into the sauce, it would also be more or less chilli hot according to country. Then again you can simply use the Peter Watson Peanut sauce which, if I say so myself, is splendid.

If you have the time, this dish is traditionally served with cucumber.

1 long Lebanese cucumber or two smaller, sliced into rings

2 – 3 green shallots chopped into a diagonal slice

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon Thai Sweet Chilli sauce

1 tablespoon of lime juice

Mix all together with the cucumber and onion and allow top marinade while you cook the sates.


Each sate will take about 13 – 14 minutes to cook and you will need to be sure that the chicken is cooked through. I find that not turning to much is better and so I do about 4 minutes on side one, turn the sates over and repeat. Do that again, so each side gets two times on the flame.

What I am looking for is a well cooked piece of chicken and it should have flecks of browned meat. I am not patient and so I will inevitably cook them all at one time. When they are cooked, pile them onto a serving plate and I then pour the whole of the peanut sauce over them. Not traditional as the sauce is a dipping sauce, but since I am inevitably piggish about the sauce, why not. Eat with the cucumber salad and rice.

Simple and quite quite delicious.

~ by peterwatson on November 4, 2012.

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