Chicken Satay

Chicken satay is my go-to party food. Typically, I make it the night before the party so that it marinades overnight. Then the next morning, I thread it onto the skewers ready for the barbeque.

I have really only made satays with chicken thigh fillets, however, I know you can make them with beef and lamb, I just haven’t tried those out yet. The chicken thigh is so soft, and the satays are really moist after leaving the barbeque. The marinade helps in keeping it nice and soft, and caramelises so well.

Of course, no satay dish would be complete without the peanut satay sauce. I have to admit, I did not make the sauce myself. For a long time, I was buying peanut sauce in jars, however, my lovely friend Jasmine brought me a massive tupperware of her mum’s home made peanut sauce, so I have been making my way through that. The problem with peanut sauce is that you have to make a big batch of it. There is no such thing as a one meal portion. And I just don’t have the space in my freezer to store that much peanut sauce, so Aunty – come at me with your peanut sauce thank you very much!

Satays are another one of my comfort foods. Every time I go back to Malaysia, it is definitely on my list of things to eat, again and again and again. It’s a great finger food, one you can eat while strolling through the night market looking for more delicious food to eat. I feel like my homemade satay is very different to those you can find on the streets in Malaysia. For one my skewers make for massive satays – in Malaysia, the sticks are very delicate, with not much meat on them. I think their marinade is a bit different too, but I am still struggling to exactly replicate it. One day, maybe some charitable satay Aunty will teach me her secret satay recipe.

I have tried many skewering methods with this recipe, and I have found that the wooden sticks are really just not good enough. When those sticks meet the barbeque, they inevitably burn off, leaving a very hard to hold satay. So after quite a few failed attempts, Ben and I decided to invest in hard core metal skewers. The metal skewers have their own pros and cons, namely, while it is made of metal and therefore cooks the chicken from within as well as outside, it does tend to get very hot. So be careful when handling these on the barbeque. Ben has now perfected his barbecue technique, but it took him a couple of goes and a few burnt fingers. Also, remember to spray the barbeque with a bit of oil before putting your skewers down to cook.

If you are going to make a beef or lamb satay, I would say it is imperative for the meat to marinade for at least 24 hours, the meat needs that time to soften up in the marinade before being cooked, otherwise you will be left with awful bullets on a stick. Choose a cut of meat that has a lot of marbling in it, that will help keep the meat soft. With red meat, cut the meat up into 2cm x 2cm x 2cm cube pieces.

I have thought about making kangaroo satay, but it is such a lean meat, I’m not convinced it would do well as a satay. The satay really needs to have some kind of fat in the meat to keep it moist and succulent. I might test it out one day and let you know. For now, it’s just a distant thought.

The ghee coating on the BBQ is also pretty key. In Malaysia, the Aunties baste their skewers with some kind of animal fat, I’m pretty sure. I am also pretty sure you don’t want to know what’s in it, it may vaguely resemble a heart attack. I use ghee, for lack of any kind of home-made completely unhealthy animal fat. I’d like to think that makes my satays healthier.

My instructions for the perfect satay are very simple:

Blitz -> Marinade -> Skewer -> Cook -> Baste -> EAT!

Happy cooking!

Serves: 2kg of chicken thigh fillets will feed about 10 people

Prep time: 1 hour

Marinade time: preferably overnight, but at least 4 hours

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Source: Adapted from Poh’s chicken satay recipe –


2 kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2 cm wide strips


2 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs ground cummin seeds

8 shallots or one large spanish onion rough chopped

4 clove garlic roughly sliced

1 tsp ground turmeric or 2 cm fresh, chopped

4 stalks lemongrass, sliced finely OR one tube of lemongrass paste

1 cm galangal chopped

4 tbs brown sugar

1½ tsp salt

1/2 tsp dark soy

4 tbs oil

melted ghee for barbeque-ing


  1. Put all marinade ingredients in a good blender. Try not to add water if you can help it, but if the mixture needs loosening up, add water to the mixture conservatively until you have a fine paste.
  2. Marinate the meat overnight in a big bowl, making sure all of the meat is well coated and covered with the marinade paste.
  3. Skewer the meat and barbeque or grill very briefly continually turning so it doesn’t burn – only till meat is just cooked as you want it nice and juicy still. As you are turning the meat, brush with melted ghee, this will give some lovely char to your satay.
  4. Serve with peanut sauce, add some chunks of cucumber on the side for some relief.
Skewered Pre-BBQ

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