Many South East Asian countries have a version of Satay Chicken. This Indonesian version is the easiest, you can get everything you need from the supermarket and it is SO tasty. This peanut sauce is thick and chunky, not a thin dipping sauce. Because I like to DOLLOP the sauce on!
Satay Chicken is probably better known as Malaysian and Thai. But actually, it is originally from Indonesia. And as with all popular dishes from cuisines around the world, there are many versions of chicken satay. I’d like to share all the popular ones with you eventually – Thai, Malaysian and even the Singaporean version. But I thought it would be ideal to start with the original and the easiest – the Indonesian version.
When I was comparing the various satay chicken recipes I’ve used in the past, I realised that though they had some similarities, they are actually made very differently. None are too hard, but most required many ingredients. And when I say many, I’m not exaggerating. Malaysian Satay Chicken requires 25+ ingredients (the one I use requires 32). The Thai version doesn’t require quite as many, but not far off, especially if you make it using homemade red curry paste (worth every ounce of effort).
However, the Indonesian version requires far less. Just as tasty as the other versions – just different. As my sister always says – “same, same…but DIFFERENT!”.
The Peanut Sauce I use in this recipe is not a 100% authentic Indonesian recipe, but with good reason. The traditional Indonesian peanut sauce is made simply with peanuts, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), chillies, shallots and lime. Not cooked, just ground together into a thick paste.
I am convinced that Indonesian peanuts are different to Australian peanuts. Because every single time I have tried the traditional recipe, the ground peanuts come out kind of “gritty”, like desiccated coconut. The sauce does not have the creaminess that you get at Indonesian restaurants and in Indonesia (I think I ate satay every day when I was in Bali!). I tried it numerous ways – using a mortar and pestle (the traditional way – it’s tiring!), food processor and even a blender stick. None worked.
For the purpose of sharing this recipe with you, I tried the original yet again and it still didn’t work. I have a few peanut sauce recipes I use regularly – a Vietnamese one (I shared this in the Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls recipe), a Thai one (I’ll share this one day!), a Malaysian one (which takes time to cook and is the most complex one) and this one which I made up myself. It is a mish mash of all these recipes!
This peanut sauce is made using store bought peanut butter. No, that is not authentic. But don’t be a snob! It’s flavoured with “real” Indonesian flavours so it doesn’t taste “westernised”. And it’s FAST and EASY to make.
I bet that Indonesian restaurants use at least some peanut butter in their satay sauce…..he he! 😉
- 1 lb / 500g chicken thigh fillets (skinless and boneless)
- 2 1/2 tbsp kecap manis (thick sweet soy sauce - see Note 1)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter , melted
- 12 - 14 small bamboo skewers , soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
- 1 tbsp cooking oil (peanut, canola, vegetable)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 small or 1/2 large onion , diced (red, brown, yellow or white)
- 3 birds eye chillis , sliced (or sub with hot sauce)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
- 1 cup coconut milk (full fat is better, but light is ok)
- 2 1/2 tbsp kecap manis (Note 1)
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup crushed unsalted roasted peanuts (buy crushed or chop your own)
- 1 - 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- Crushed peanuts
- Lime wedges
- Sliced shallots/scallions
Cut the chicken into 1.5cm/0.5" cubes. Thread onto skewers - 4 to 5 pieces per skewer.
Combine kecap manis and butter, then brush onto chicken.
Cook the skewers on a hot BBQ (outdoor grill) or on the stove in a large non stick fry pan (add a splash of oil, and make sure the skewers will fit in the pan). Grill/broiler would also work.
Serve, garnished with crushed peanuts, shallots and with lime wedges and Peanut Sauce on the side.
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and chillis and cook for 3 minutes until onion is translucent.
Turn heat down to medium, then add peanut butter, coconut milk, kecap manis, soy sauce and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Use a handheld stick to puree (so the onion and chilli blends throughout the sauce - this is key). (See Note 2 for blending instructions) Stir through crushed peanuts and lime juice and simmer for 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving or to room temperature - it will thicken.
1. Kecap Manis is a thick soy sauce that has the consistency of syrup. It can be found in the Asian or sauce section of supermarkets and it is cheap - in Australia, it is $2 for a small bottle or $4 for a very large one. It tastes like sweet soy sauce with smokiness, and it is a key ingredient in this recipe. It's the secret ingredient in 90% of Indonesian recipes!
2. If you puree in a blender, make sure the sauce cools before you blend it. Otherwise it will literally "explode" when you start whizzing it and sauce will splatter everywhere. I made this mistake. 🙂
3. I find that the traditional recipe for Indonesian satay peanut sauce does not come out smooth and rich like you get at restaurants, it comes out a bit gritty, like it has desiccated coconut in it (which it does not). It may be because peanuts in Australia are different. Also, it requires considerable effort to ground the peanuts into a paste (food processor does not work). So this recipe is one I created using peanut butter. It is heavily flavoured with other ingredients so it tastes just like what you get at restaurants.
Here is an authentic Indonesian Peanut Sauce recipe if you want to give it a go: 100g roasted unsalted peanuts, 3 to 5 birds eye chillies, 50 ml kecap manis, 3 shallots/scallions, sliced and 1 tbsp lime juice. Ground all ingredients together, season to taste then serve.
4. This recipe makes more Peanut Sauce than you will need. It is hard to make a smaller batch. It goes great with steamed vegetables and rice, and lasts for at least a week in the fridge (it should last longer, but I think the flavour might fade). Freshen up leftover peanut sauce with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
5. Nutrition for chicken skewer only (Peanut Sauce is below).
Nutrition for Peanut Sauce based on my estimate that one batch is sufficient for 3 batches of chicken skewers.