Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Satay, small pieces or strips of marinated meat grilled on bamboo skewers, is truly a Malay dish, but these days it is so popular in Thai restaurants people would be forgiven for thinking that it is a Thai dish. You can use beef, pork or chicken. The day before you cook your satay, put a packet of bamboo skewers to soak in cold water. This will help stop them burning. Serve the satay with some plain boiled rice.


  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2–3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp nam pla fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or muscovado
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp (optional)

For the Peanut Sauce

  • 225 g/ 8 oz raw peanuts 3 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2.5-cm / 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp nam pla fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 375 ml/ 12 fl oz hot water


Bone the chicken thighs (see Kentish Pudding), using the bones for stock. Strip off the skin and discard. Cut the meat into strips about 5 cm / 2 inches long by 1–2 cm / ½–¾ inch wide and put into a bowl.

In a food processor, put the garlic, onion, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind, if you have some. Blitz to a smooth paste and pour over the meat, turning with a fork to coat, and leave to marinate for 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

Make the satay sauce: shell the raw peanuts and fry them over a low heat in the oil, stirring continuously until browned. Transfer to a food processor and add the onion, garlic, chilli flakes, ginger, lemon grass, lemon juice, sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce. Work to a smooth paste, pouring the hot water through the feeder tube as you process. Pour into a saucepan, bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove and leave to cool.

Preheat an overhead grill and thread the marinated meat on the skewers. Grill the chicken fiercely, close to the flame, until just done – about 4 minutes on each side.