Last Updated on January 31, 2021 by Chef Mireille
Malaysian Chicken Satay
Satay is one of the most common street foods throughout Southeast Asia. Malaysian style is unique in that it does not include coconut milk and is chunkier than the more common Thai version!
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Chinese New Year is coming up next week. So this week I am presenting some delicious street food from countries with large Chinese populations to celebrate the Lunar Festival.
When I visited Penang a few years ago, it was at the tail end of the Lunar Festival, so I missed out on a lot of the festivities. However, I was still able to enjoy lots of delicious Malaysian street food!
Whose planning on visiting Malaysia soon? Don’t skip out on Penang! Did you know that Penang is home to the largest Buddhist temple in all of Southeast Asia? You can read all about my experience visiting Kek Lok Si Temple here!
RELATED: NOORDIN MEWS – PENANG BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Satay has become very popular in recent years. It is often included in the appetizer section at restaurants and bars. Bars that feature small plates in tapas style establishments often include satay on their menu.
Thai Satay is the most popular version in the west. However, satay is popular street food in most Southeast Asian countries. There is variety in the satay sauce from country to country. The only requirement is that the main ingredient should be peanuts.
Thai Satay Sauce is very mild, smooth and creamy with the main ingredients being peanut butter (or smoothly ground peanuts) and coconut milk. Indonesian Satay is very bold and spicy with Sambal Olek (chili paste) and Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce).
Today’s Malaysian Style Satay is very different from these other Satay Sauces in that there is no coconut milk and it is very chunky with coarsely ground peanuts. Malaysian Style Satay is more of a paste than a sauce.
Once you learn how to make this Malaysian Style Chicken Satay, you can use the sauce with any variety of grilled meats including beef, lamb, pork or shrimp. You can even make Vegetarian Satay with tofu.
Malaysian Style Chicken Satay is a great recipe to serve at parties. Most of the prep work can be done the day before, so all you have to do is grill up the chicken the day of the event. Perfect for GAME DAY!
There are three components to this recipe and most of it can be done in advance. You can even marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
- Lemongrass Oil – Brush the chicken with this while it is grilling for additional flavor
- Satay Sauce
- Marinade for the Chicken
Both the Lemongrass Oil and Satay Sauce can be made in advance. Then all you have to do is cook up the chicken!
Also remember, to soak the skewers the night before in water, so they don’t burn when placed on the grill. Alternately, you can cook up the chicken on a grill pan and place the meat on the skewers after it is cooked.
The flavor of the coriander seed and the lemongrass really shine through, especially when you brush on all that lemongrass oil, while the chicken is cooking!
These would great to make for summer barbecues also. Just make the sauce beforehand and then brush on after you grill up the chicken!
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Malaysian Style Chicken Satay
- 2 lbs. chicken thighs boneless and skinless
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon galangal powder
- ¾ teaspoon lemongrass powder
- 3 red bird’s eye chillies finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 1 cup oil
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 " galangal
- 1 shallot
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5 red bird’s eye chillies
- ½ cup peanuts
- 4 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cut the chicken into large pieces.
- Squeeze the lime juice over the chicken pieces.
- Toss chicken with the turmeric, galangal powder, lemongrass powder, chillies, sugar and salt.
- Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the oil and sauce.
- Place the tamarind paste in a bowl and add 4 tablespoons boiling water. Set aside.
- Now let’s prepare the lemongrass oil.
- Remove the root end and use the top 1/3 of the lemongrass stalks, about 5”.
- Cut into slices and set aside. This will later be used to make the satay sauce.
- With the bottom 2/3 of the lemongrass, first pound it with a mallet to release the flavor.
- Cut into 3” strips.
- Place the bottom strips in a cup of oil in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Turn off the heat.
- Once this has cooled, store in a glass jar with the lemongrass included. The lemongrass will continue to infuse the oil.
- For the satay sauce, combine coriander seed and cumin seed in a food processor and grind the seeds.
- Add sliced lemongrass from reserved from above, galangal, shallot, garlic, and chillies.
- Process until well chopped to a paste.
- Remove spice paste to a bowl.
- In the food processor, pulse the peanuts until they are well chopped, but before the oils have released to start making peanut butter.
- Strain the tamarind paste, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Discard the paste and save the tamarind extract.
- In a pot, heat the peanut oil.
- Add spice paste and stir fry for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables have cooked.
- Add peanuts, tamarind extract and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil.
- Add palm sugar and salt.
- Reduce heat and simmer on low for 3-4 minutes, until the sugar has melted.
- Skewer the meat onto wooden/bamboo sticks.
- Grill chicken on a grill pan or charcoal grill outside, until the chicken is cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking, brush with the lemongrass oil.
- Coat the skewers with the satay sauce and serve some more of the sauce on the side.
Need more culinary inspiration? Check out the Recipe Index with over 1500 Recipes from Around the World with lots of Vegetarian 🥕🍆🍅and Gluten Free Recipes!
This looks so delicious. However, since I have recently turned vegetarian, I will try making this with tofu or soya chunks. Can’t wait to try a vegan or vegetarian version of this awesome recipe.
yes since the sauce is Vegan – you can definitely use it on tofu or soya
Finally have found a South Asian Sauce that doesn’t have any fish oil or shrimp paste. Would love to try out this sauce with some tofu satay. I’m sure the sweetness and sourness makes its such a flavorful sauce.
yes this sauce is perfect for Vegetarians as there is no fish sauce or shrimp paste.
This looks delicious. I love all the blends of nuts and spices. I have some tofu which will be perfect for marinading in your sauce. I will let you know how it turned out.
Yes. This can just as easily be made with tofu.
This is one of the classic recipes and you have nailed it. Can’t take my eyes off the satay. absolute delight for non veg lovers like me
Yes satay is definitely a crowd pleaser. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a person who doesn’t like satay.
Love the blend of spices used in the sauce, that plate of chicken satay is really tempting.
The combination os spices and nuts definitely makes this a really delicious version of satay.
I like the section where you discussed the the difference in satay from different regions. Malaysian style chicken satay looks good
Yes it really is interesting to discover the different types of satay in different countries
Bookmarking this to try a vegetarian version. 🙂
I am sure you will like this sauce with any vegetarian ingredients.
I have long wanted to travel to Malaysia and Penang. I really hope it will be possible one of these days! I have had satay in Thailand and in Thai restaurants in Europe, but never made it myself. This Malaysian version looks really good and sounds quite easy to make. Definitely want to try it!
The Malay version is different so you should definitely give it a try!
You should definitely try to get to Malaysia. It is definitely a foodie’s paradise!
This Malaysian Style Chicken Satay has so much flavour! I had only ever tried Thai style in the past and this was a tasty change.
So glad you enjoyed it!
This is my first time learning about this recipe and I am loving the marinade. Thanks so much for sharing; I can’t wait to try!
I am sure you are going to love this Malaysian style satay!
I never knew there was a Malaysian-style chicken satay and now I’m glad I do because the flavors, especially the lemongrass sound absolutely incredible! This will be such a fun meal for my family.
Yes there are different styles of Satay all throughout southeast Asia
Seriously delicious! The flavors are so deep, intense, and satisfying
Yes – I am definitely more partial to Malaysian Satay than the Thai versions.