Friday, 4 April 2014

Gai Satay (Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad)

Who doesn't love chicken satay skewers with a peanut sauce?

Threading pieces of marinated chicken onto skewers, then serving them with a dipping sauce or sauces seems to have an almost universal appeal, and this recipe is no exception. You can make it *really* special, by making your own Thai red curry paste (my recipe is here) to use in the peanut sauce (as well as other delicious recipes, like my Thai duck red curry), or for convenience use a good brand of bought red curry paste, such as 'Thai Taste'.

Serves 4 (or more people as a starter), 330 calories per person as a main meal if you're counting, you can add 40g uncooked Jasmine rice (per person) for 132 calories each if it’s your main meal (bringing it up to a total of 462 calories), or have cauliflower rice, if you don't eat grains, or for less calories (38 per 100g) and/or a nice big salad! Don't forget to reduce the calories if you substitute sugar for stevia etc.

Satay is a popular dish, you could easily substitute pork, beef, lamb, king prawns or a selection of vegetables such as courgette, aubergine, large chunks of mushroom and peppers (or even use quorn meat substitutes if desired). If you’re using wooden/bamboo skewers, don’t forget to soak them for at least 20 minutes so they don’t burn when you cook the chicken.

  • 450g chicken breast (or mini-fillets/tenders will work perfectly) [495]
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (I use a medium madras curry powder, use mild if you want it less spicy) [18]
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric powder [7]
  • 1 tbsp sugar (palm or light muscovado if you have it, Paleo substitute raw honey, or stevia etc.) [48]
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (or use tamari for gluten free or Paleo diets, or coconut aminos) [16]
  • 50ml milk (semi-skimmed, or use coconut/almond milk for Paleo) [25]
  • 80ml coconut milk (for brushing) [123]

  • Around 12-20 - soak if bamboo/wooden

Peanut Sauce
  • 20g red curry paste (home made if possible, see my recipe – calories are for home made. Alternatively, use a good quality brand of curry paste, such as ‘Thai Taste’ or similar) [13]
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil (or groundnut/sunflower etc.) [68]
  • 30g peanuts, roasted (see tips), finely ground (Paleo use roasted and ground almond or cashew nuts / butter [182]
  • 100ml coconut milk [154]
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or light muscovado/soft brown, for Paleo use raw honey, stevia etc.) [48]
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (nam pla) (Red Boat brand for Paleo diets, or use light soy sauce, if you’re making a vegetarian version - tamari for gluten free) [5]

Cucumber Salad
  • 30ml rice/rice wine vinegar (Paleo, substitute apple cider vinegar, or even lime juice) [5]
  • 2 tbsp sugar (caster, or sweeten with Stevia etc. for Paleo) [96]
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cucumber, unpeeled (approx. 100g) [11]
  • 1 small shallot [4]
  • 1/3 large red chilli (approx. 5g) [3]


Cut the chicken breast into strips 1cm thick – I cut mine lengthwise but it really doesn’t matter how you cut them as long as they are of an equal thickness so that they cook evenly on the skewers - you can even use mini-chicken fillets (tenders) for this.

Put the curry powder, turmeric, sugar, soy sauce, oil and milk into a non-reactive (not metal) dish, add the chicken strips, and marinate for at least two hours, preferably overnight (in the fridge).

To make the peanut sauce, heat the oil in a pan, and add the curry paste, frying for 2 or 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, sugar (or substitute) and fish/soy sauce. Simmer for 5 or 6 minutes until thickened, taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish/soy sauce or sugar to your taste. Serve at room temperature, or warm back up if you wish.

To make the cucumber salad, put the vinegar, sugar (if using stevia, add after removing from the heat) and salt into a small pan and simmer over a low heat until dissolved and reduced by about a third. Transfer to a dish to cool down (if it starts looking like it might set into a hard caramel, just stir in a little water). Cut cucumber into four quarters lengthways, then thinly slice the cucumber, shallots and chilli. Add shortly before serving, or the cucumber will go ‘soggy’.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread onto the skewers. Brush with the coconut milk, and then grill (broil), or barbecue over coals until cooked through. You could also cook on a griddle, if you want a more charred taste/flavour than under the grill, but it may leave some burnt on mess for you to clear up! I find that if I grill (broil) it, I will not get that much colour on it by the time it’s cooked through, so if your grill is not that hot don’t overcook it and dry out the chicken to try and brown it. I take mine off, and run the blowtorch over it briefly if I want some colour on it!

Serve with some colourful salad, and your choice of rice (or noodles) if you want it as a main meal.

If using wooden or bamboo skewers, remember to soak them for at least an hour before using so that they don’t burn.

Don’t buy ‘Dry Roast’ flavoured peanuts, either buy raw (skinned) peanuts and roast them in the oven or a dry pan (don’t burn them!), or you could buy Salted Roast Peanuts, rinse the salt off them, and dry them before grinding. You can use a coffee/spice/nut grinder to do this, or a food processor. If you want, you could even use 50g unsalted/unsweetened peanut butter instead.

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