In the article, I would like to share with you how to prepare the Malaysian chicken satay.
Chicken satay is the most well-known street food in a tiny town called Kajang in Malaysia. Due to its popularity, may satay stores in other cities tried to piggy ride on the name and called their satay as ‘Kajang satay’ to attract customers.
Origin of satay
Satay is one of the Malay cuisines that has introduced from Java, Indonesia. It is known to be inspired by kebab, the internationally renowned cuisine in the Arab and Middle Eastern countries.
Satay is street food that is made of marinated meat and grilled on the skewers with a sauce. It can be of chicken, mutton, beef, pork, or other meats.
Satay is recognized as a national dish of Indonesia. However, satay is also a delicacy in many other Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. It is known as 'satay' in Malaysia and Singapore, whereas, in Indonesia, it is called 'sate' which carries the same meaning.
Sate Ayam (chicken satay) of Indonesia is prepared from chicken marinated in a mixture of coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper combined with an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Malaysian satay is prepared by blending shallots, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger to a smooth paste whereas Thai chicken satay is with fish sauce.
The Malaysian Chicken satay recipe
Galangal and lemongrass are heavily used in this Malaysian chicken satay recipe. It also includes belacan, a local salted shrimp paste to enhance the flavor. Here is the step-by-step guide how do we make it.
1. Prepare the chicken
The preparation begins with cutting the chicken meat into bite-size pieces of 1.5 cm cubes.
You can use either chicken breast or thigh meat. However, chicken breast meat will easily turn too dry if it is overcooked. Chicken thigh meat has a better tolerance that it still stays tender and succulent if you grill it until golden brown. The choice is yours and I am using breast meat in this recipe.
2. Get ready the marinade
Do not put off just because there is a long list of ingredients in the recipe. Once you get all the ingredients, the next step is incredibly simple.
I have divided them into two groups.
The first group (powder and liquid)
The first group of ingredients for the marinade comprises of ingredients in the form of powder and liquids. They are turmeric powder, sugar, ground white pepper, coriander powder, fennel powder, cumin powder, sweet soy sauce, and salt.
However, if you want to make your satay exceptionally flavorful, try to use as many fresh ingredients as possible.
I do not use fresh turmeric, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds instead of the store-bought powder for its simplicity. I think most of us will find that the list of ingredients is a bit overwhelming, but I will definitely use the fresh ingredients if I am preparing to serve it during an important function.
Sweet soy sauce. This sauce is the Indonesian type soy sauce, not the Chinese light or dark soy sauce. It is neither the Japanese Shoyu or Vietnamese fish sauce. The taste is entirely different. You should be able to buy it from the Asian grocery store and easily purchase online from Amazon.
Sugar. It is alright to use white or brown sugar, but palm sugar (called gula Malaka in Malay) has a distinct toffee flavor. You can also get palm sugar online.
The second group (ingredients that need to blend with a food processor)
Onion. Wash, peel and cut the onions into large chunks and add into the food processor. You can also use shallots, but it is more tedious to clean and peel. The result will not make a huge difference.
Galangal. Clean and cut the skin away. Galangal is a type of ginger with a strong flavor. It is widely used in the Malay and Indonesian cuisine. Always use a sharp knife to cut the galangal since it is much harder than the regular ginger.
Tip: Cut the galangal into small pieces or thin slices before placing them into the food processor. In my experience, the food processor will not be able to handle large pieces of galangal. Large chunks are not only hard to chew, but it is also not effective to impart its flavor to the chicken meat.
Lemongrass. Cut away the stem and the green section of the lemongrass. Remove the outer sheath that is tough. Use only the tender section of the bulb which is off white. Give it a good smash on the chopping board, and cut them into short segments.
Belacan. Belacan is a type of salted shrimp paste from Malaysia which has a strong savory taste. It is a welcome addition to the recipe as it boosts up the flavor. Anyone who is familiar with the Malaysian cuisine will immediately recognize that it is an authentic Malaysian flavor.
Belacan is optional if you intend to grill some satay with a universal flavor. Most of the Indonesian and Thai satay do not include this item.
Belacan is selling in blocks, similar to the size of a block of butter. It is sticky and with the texture of cheese (although the color is completely different as it is dark brown). Therefore, it is best to add to the food processor to ensure it is mixed uniformly with the other ingredients.
Use oil to blend instead of water
Add some vegetable oil to the food processor so that it is easier to blend the ingredients. I prefer to use oil than water as it is part of the marinade.
3. Marinate the chicken
Combine the ingredients in the first and second group with the chicken. Marinate it for at least three hours before grilling, or better for at least 24 hours if time is permitted.
You can also make it in advance by frozen the marinated meat. It should be good for at least two weeks in the freezer.
4. Grill the chicken
The best way to grill the chicken is to use open fire over a charcoal pit. Nevertheless, not all of us have that luxury to have a barbecue pit at home. I am using a grill pan which yields an excellent result.
Soak the wood skewers in water for half an hour before using them. Wet skewers will not get charred easily and resist to the heat of the grill.
Pierce the skewer through the chicken meat. Leave a small gap between each piece of meat so that they will not be too congested and causing them difficult to cook through.
Grill over a small flame until the satay turns golden brown with some char marks. Add some additional oil if necessary. Do not overcook the meat especially for chicken breast as they will become tough.
The Malaysian chicken satay is best to serve with the special dipping sauce. I will share with you how to prepare the satay sauce in a separate post. Meanwhile, you may enjoy the original flavor of the satays without the sauce. It is different from kebab, and you got to taste to believe how good it is.
If you like this Malaysian recipe, you may also like the following famous Malaysian cuisines:
- Malaysian tomato rice – very flavorful rice best serve with ayan masak merah.
- Kapitan chicken – a famous Nyonya style curry chicken which is less spicy.
- Char kuey teow – typical Malaysian Chinese street food style fried noodles.
The Malaysian Chicken Satay Recipe
- 1kg chicken meat
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 80g sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 2 teaspoons fennel powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup (about 125ml) vegetable oil
- 1 medium size onion (about 120g)
- 10 cloves garlic
- 120 g galangal
- 10g belacan
- 70g lemongrass
- Cut the chicken meat into bite-size pieces of 1.5 cm cubes.
- Cut some chicken skin into small pieces for later use.
- Add Marinade (A) with the chicken
- Cut the ingredients in Marinade (B)into small pieces and blend with the vegetable oil until it becomes a paste. Combine with the chicken.
- Marinate it for at least three hours before grilling, or better for at least 24 hours if time is permitted.
- Soak the wood skewers in water for half a before using them.
- Pierce the skewer through the chicken meat, alternate with a piece of chicken skin that you reserved earlier. Leave a small gap between each piece of meat.
- Grill over a small flame until the satay turns golden brown with some char marks.
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Cuisinart CI30-23BG, 9.25" Square Grill Pan, Enameled Provencial Blue
Hamilton Beach (70730) Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper with Bowl Scraper, 10 Cup, Electric
TONGYE Premium Natural BBQ Bamboo Skewers Shish Kabob, Grill, Appetizer, Fruit, Corn, Chocolate Fountain, Cocktail More Food, More Size Choices 4"/6"/8"/10"/12"(200 PCS)
McCormick Ground Turmeric, 0.95 oz
Simply Organic - Coriander - 2.29 oz.
Banyan Botanicals Fennel Seed Powder - USDA Certified Organic, Spice Jar - Foeniculum vulgare - Spice & Herbal Supplement for Digestive Comfort …
McCormick Ground Cumin, 14 oz
Belacan Shrimp Paste - Shrimp & 6A Brand (250g/8.82oz) Product of Malaysia
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 343 Total Fat: 19g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 89mg Sodium: 577mg Carbohydrates: 14g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 9g Protein: 30g
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