Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce


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Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

© Paden Reich

During my first marriage, my husband’s mother, Mrs. Van Halen, made amazing Indonesian meals. The one that stands out most—or rather, the one that’s lingered on my taste buds for more than three decades—is her Gado-Gado, a vegetable dish she served with a peanut sauce that literally stopped time. I savored every molecule of its peanuty goodness. Years later, I served her peanut sauce with chicken satay, making for an easy appetizer with bold flavor. She never shared her exact recipe, but I’ve re-created it as best I can—and I think I got very close. It’s exotic but still approachable—and just might cause you to dance the night away. Haha, see what I did there?


1. Make the Peanut Sauce: Heat the peanut oil in a small skillet or sauté pan over medium-low. Add the onion and jalapeño, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, and cool 3 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add the coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, chile paste, soy sauce, and fish sauce; whisk until smooth. Set aside.

2. Make the Satay: Whisk together the coconut milk, vegetable oil, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, curry powder, and garlic in a medium bowl. Cut each chicken breast on the diagonal into 6 strips. Place the chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet.

3. Place the chicken strips in a large ziplock freezer bag, and add the coconut milk mixture. Seal the bag, and turn to coat. Chill for 2 to 6 hours.

4. Preheat a grill to medium-high (about 450°F). Remove the chicken from the marinade; discard the marinade. Thread 1 chicken strip onto each skewer. Grill, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and lightly charred in places, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with the peanut sauce.



Mrs. VH’s Peanut Sauce 
1 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 jalepeno chile (or more), ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated fresh ginger
1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes
2 tablespoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium
1 tablespoon fish sauce

1/3 cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp curry powder
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water 20 minutes and drained

serving size

4 People

Hands on time

25 Minutes

Total time

2 Hours, 25 Minutes


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