I want to share how to prepare the Malaysian chicken satay in the article.
The best satay is from a tiny town called Kajang in Malaysia. Due to its popularity, many satay stores in other cities tried to piggyback on the name and called their satay ‘Kajang satay’ to attract customers.
The origin of Satay
Satay is one of the Malay cuisines introduced in Java, Indonesia. It is known to be inspired by kebab, the internationally renowned cuisine in Arab and Middle Eastern countries.
Satay is a street food made of marinated meat grilled on bamboo skewers with a sauce. It can be chicken, mutton, beef, pork, or other meats.
Satay is recognized as a national dish of Indonesia. However, satay is also a delicacy in many Southeast Asia 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 coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, fresh ginger, salt, and pepper combined with an Indonesian sweet soy sauce (kecap manis). Malaysian satay is prepared by blending shallots, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger into a smooth paste, whereas Thai chicken satay is made with fish sauce.
Steps to prepare the best chicken satay
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 on how 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 breasts, chicken tenders, or chicken thighs. However, the chicken breast meat will quickly turn too dry if overcooked. Chicken thigh meat has better tolerance and 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 for the chicken marinade
Do not put off just because the recipe has a long list of ingredients. Once you get all the ingredients, the next step is straightforward.
I have divided them into two groups.
The first group (powder and liquid)
The first group of ingredients for the marinade comprises 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. I do not suggest using curry powder as it will make it taste quite different from the authentic recipe.
However, use as many fresh ingredients as possible to make your satay exceptionally flavorful.
I do not use fresh turmeric, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds instead of store-bought powder for its simplicity. Most of us will find that the list of ingredients is a bit overwhelming, but I will use fresh ingredients if I prepare to serve them 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 Japanese Shoyu nor Vietnamese fish sauce. The taste is entirely different. You should be able to buy it from the Asian grocery store and easily purchase it 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)
Red onion. Wash, peel, and cut the red onions into large chunks and add to 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 Malay and Indonesian cuisine. Use a sharp knife to cut the galangal since it is much harder than 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 cannot handle large pieces of galangal. Large chunks are not only hard to chew, but they are also ineffective in imparting their flavor to the chicken meat.
Lemongrass. Cut away the stem and the green section of the lemongrass. Remove the tough outer sheath. Use only the tender section of the bulb, which is off-white. Give it a good smash on the chopping board, and cut it into short segments.
Belacan. Belacan is a salted shrimp paste from Malaysia with a strong, savory taste. It is a welcome addition to the recipe as it boosts the flavor. Anyone familiar with Malaysian cuisine will immediately recognize its authentic flavor.
Belacan is optional if you intend to grill some satay with a universal flavor. Most Indonesian and Thai satay do not include this item.
Belacan is sold in blocks, similar to the size of a block of butter. It is sticky and has the texture of cheese (although the color is entirely different as it is dark brown). Therefore, adding to the food processor is best 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 it is easier to blend the ingredients. I prefer oil over water as it is part of the marinade.
3. Marinate the chicken
Combine the ingredients in the first and second groups 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 freezing 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 charcoal grill over an open fire. Nevertheless, a gas grill may not be the best option, but not all of us have the luxury of having a barbecue pit at home. So, I use a grill pan to make it.
Soak the bamboo skewers in water for half an hour before using them. Wet skewers will not get charred quickly and resist the grill’s heat.
Pierce the chicken meat through the wooden skewers. Leave a small gap between each piece of meat so they will not be too congested and cause difficulty to cook through.
Grill the chicken satay skewers over low to medium heat until the satay turns golden brown with some char marks. Add some additional oil if necessary. Avoid overcooking the meat, especially chicken breast, as it will become tough.
The Malaysian chicken satay is best served with a spicy peanut sauce. In summary, satay sauce is made with ground peanuts, coconut milk (coconut cream), chili, garlic, onion, palm sugar, and tamarind paste (or assam keping). It is slightly spicy with a hint of sweetness. Please click here to read the delicious peanut sauce recipe. You can serve it with rice cakes (ketupat).
Meanwhile, you may enjoy the original flavor of the satays without the sauce. It is different from a kebab, and you must taste it to believe how good it is.
Note: This is a Malaysian authentic chicken satay recipe, which has a distinct taste from the Thai chicken satay recipe due to different ingredients. The Thai peanut sauce also tastes different. If you order satay at Thai restaurants, you’ll notice that the Thai satay recipe tastes different from the Malaysian version.
If you like this easy chicken satay recipe, you may also like the following famous Malaysian cuisines:
- Malaysian tomato rice – very flavorful rice best served with ayam masak merah.
- Kapitan chicken – a famous Nyonya-style curry chicken that 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.
If you encounter any audio / visual problem of viewing this video, you can view it from YouTube by clicking this link, which will open in a new tab.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 343Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 577mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 30g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 2/27/2019