Malaysian Chicken Satays

Me and Aaron both felt pretty adventurous the other day to cook up something more complicated than usual. We made chicken satays, along with all the proper condiments! After Hainanese Chicken Rice and Pastitsio, I daresay this is the next toughest thing to do. The steps are just so long!

Oh well, I guess that is also what makes satays so delicious because apart from the longlist of ingredients needed and many other condiments and side dishes, this one has been made with lots of effort, love and passion. I guess that's what makes it extra delicious and has the extra kick and oooommmppphhhh-factor compared to those sold outside. I've adapted the recipe from Y3k book and have listed down my opinions such as the type of chicken meat to use and the lemongrass brush and how exactly I've done it (Recipe after jump!).

I did not use the ketupat recipe listed as I could not find suitable thermal plastic bags that are large enough and could be placed in boiling water for hours. Hence, I have made nasi himpit to accompany the satays. Nasi himpit is very much like ketupat and has often become ketupat substitute.

Adapted from from: Y3K Recipes Issue No.7 – July/ August 2002
(Fuss-free barbecue section by Catherine Chia)
No Catherine, it's really not that fuss free after all but definitely delicious so I'll credit you for that!

Chicken Satays:

600g chicken fillets, thighs preferred with skin on and do not trim off fat
Bamboo picks/skewers, soaked in water for at least 30mins or longer doesn't matter.

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken powder
A pinch of pepper
1 tbsp turmeric powder
4 tbsps sugar
3 tbsps oil

Pounded Ingredients:
10 cloves shallots (100g)
4 candle nuts or buah keras (macadamia or almod could be substituted)
4 stalks lemongrass, bottom white part only, chopped into smaller pieces
1 tsp belacan paste, dry-toasted on the stove for a while

Do not discard the upper part of the lemongrass. Tie them up together with rubber band and use a sharp kitchen knife and keep making random cuts all over, lengthwise. Tie the top part and cut at the bottom more fragrant part of lemongrass. Soak the lemongrass brush in 3 tbsp oil and let it stay there for as long as possible. Hard to put in words, easier done though. See picture below and you'll understand.

Cut the chicken fillets into small cubes. Mix in marinade and pounded ingredients and mix really well with clean hands until all combined. Keep aside for one hour but I did mine overnight.

Heat up charcoal till red hot. I line my griller with foil and generously drizzle oil over it. Thread the chicken cubes onto bamboo skewers. Charcoal grill or grill it until well cooked, basting with lemongrass oil frequently in between and turning them around often so that they will brown evenly.

Peanut Sauce or Kuah Kacang
This one makes a lot, I'll probably half this next time. Below is a complete full recipe of peanut sauce.

400g peanuts, dry roasted in a wok until skin comes off and peanuts are very fragrant
800ml water

1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp lime juice

Pounded individually:
15 cloves shallots (150g)
6 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemongrass
*25 dried chillies, seeds removed and soaked till softened up
2 slices galangal

1/4 cup oil

* dried chilies could be substituted with 2 tbsp store bought chili giling (don't think I can get that in Australia, chili giling is just different from sambal oelek)

Blend the frgrant peanut until very fine. Transfer to a large pot and add water. Whisk well to combine and cook it, on simmering heat over the stove for about 20 minutes until thick. Add in seasoning and turn off the heat. Set this peanut sauce aside for now.

Heat up 1/4 cup of oil. Saute pounded shallots. Add in garlic and stir fry. Add in lemongrass and the rest of the pounded ingredients. Stir-fry on high heat until oil is red, separated and floats to the surface. Dish it up. This is the chilli paste.

Pour some peanut sauce into a bowl and dollop chilli paste over. I just mix the chili paste and peanut sauce together and stir until it's combined. This sauce is made in heaven, really. A little too spicy for Aaron though, point to note, use 20 dried chilies next time instead.

Side dishes or condiments:

1 cucumber, chopped into cubes
1 red onion, chopped into cubes
Nasi himpit, as much as you like but below is what I find just nice to accompany this recipe.

Nasi Himpit (adapted from Amy Beh)

220g rice, washed, drained well
600ml water
1/4 tsp salt
2 pandan/screwpine leaves, teared to release flavour and knotted

Mix all the above together and cook using a rice cooker. Once done, use a wooden spatula to stir the rice until it form a mass that will clump around the wooden spatula. Stop when you reach this stage and place all the mixture into a small 7'' round tray. Use the wooden soon and run it around as if you're leveling icing on a cake.

Place a large sheet of cling wrap over and compress further to level it with your hand. Place raw rice (this is my pie weight when blind baking) on top of cling wrap and wrap it up with the sides of cling wrap so it sorta form a bag of weight.

I dunno how others do it but here's what I did to compress it. I place the tray with rice weight on it underneath my flat bottom rice cooker. Fill up my rice cooker with water to the brim and let it soak overnight for easy washing tomorrow. There you have it, I killed two birds with one stone! Cool it overnight and cut it into cubes the next day.

Now for the fun part, eating! Fill small bowls with satay sauce. Dip satay into sauce before eating, munching alongside the raw red onions, cucumber and nasi himpit cubes.


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Ham and Egg Cup

I specifically requested for the deli boy to get me the largest slice of honey ham he could. He shaved 4 slices on the spot just for me. You should have seen each slices. They're approximately 17cm in diameter, imagine that for yourself!

We've got some leftover chicken stuffings that no one exactly fancy. But when turned into cups like that, it was whooped down in less than 5mins! Have to be creative sometimes and try come out with new dishes using leftover and not let everyone know they are actually eating leftovers!

Butter a 1/2-cup capacity ramekin and gently flare the slice of ham in. You could make as many ramekins or as little as you like but general rule of thumb is 1 slice of large ham to 1 egg per ramekin per person. If yours are small, use 2 slices overlapping them a little. Spoon in 2-3 tablespoon full of any leftover chicken stuffing or dried pulled pork would do too. Bake them for a while in a preheated oven just to warm up the stuffing. Else, just nuke it in the microwave if you're running out of time.

Crack an egg on top of each. Throw in a couple of grape tomatoes and season generously with seasalt and pepper. Place them under the grilled until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. If you pop it in the oven, you'll get an overly cooked egg. All the time, the yolk is done and the whites are still raw and uncooked. You could tell I am talking from experience, can't you?

Serve this for a fancy morning breakfast. You could prepare the buttered ramekin, ham and stuffing and keep it in the fridge the night before. Looks complicated but in actual fact, it's as easy as peanut. Your spouse will never know and will be so grateful that you've put in so much effort just to please him!

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Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselbacks are gorgeous looking and are crisp on the outside and soft and smooth on the inside. All you need is good round fat, oblong potatoes, EVOO, seasalt and pepper, butter and a good pinch of oregano.

Simply preheat oven to 200°C. You can choose to peel or not peel the potatoes. Cut each potato in half, lengthways. Place a wooden chopstick in parallel with the potatoes, flat side down. With a sharp knife and using the wooden chopstick as guide, slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (as evenly too if you can!). Continue making slits on all the potatoes halves, about 1-2mm apart.

Gently arrange them on a baking dish and spray them with EVOO and brush them with butter. Season with seasalt and pepper and scatter the dried oregano across the potatoes.

Bake them for an hour or so until theyare very tender. Brush them with pan juices from time to time and bake until golden brown.

Serve immediately.

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Chee Cheong Fun I

Made Chee Cheong Fun some time back and took me quite some time. I've only got one steaming tray and I have to repeat many times. And I also like it while it's still hot. Ended up, we both stand and ate by the stove after every batch is out. Made the sauce and the batter the night before. The following day is all about steaming only.

I'll be trying out a microwave version soon that does nto require wheat starch or any hard to come by corn flour. Stay tuned!

This recipe is adapted from Sinner of The Waitakere Redneck's Kit.

Chee Cheong Fun
(Makes 500gm)


150g rice flour
1.5 tbsp wheat starch (Tang Mien Fun
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp Oil
450ml Water
0.5 tsp Salt


Mix the rice flour, wheat starch and corn flour together. Add water slowly and stir continuously. Strain it once and add in the oil and salt and mix thoroughly. Set batter aside for at least an hour or overnight would also be alright. Heat up the steamer with an oiled shallow tray placed inside. When the water comes to boil, ladle and spread a thin layer of batter onto the hot tray. Steam for about 4-5 mins on high. I only steamed mine for 3mins each for a small 8'' round layer, probably less tahn 3mm thickness. Remove the plate from the steamer and use a scrapper to roll up the chee cheong fun.

Garnish with a generous drizzle of the sweet sauce (recipe below), fried shallots, roasted white sesame seeds and store-bought chili paste along the side.

Sweet sauce
(can be easily diluted with more water and eat alongside Steamed Yam Cake)

1/2 cup water
7 tbsp Hoisin sauce (Will probably just use 6 tbsp next time, it was a little too salty to my liking)
3 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp black soya sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a small pot and cook over medium flame until slightly thick.


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Tava (Cypriot Baked Lamb & Potatoes with Cumin & Tomatoes

I make Tava a couple of nights ago. This is adated from Tessa Kiros book, Falling Cloudberries. Despite making lotsa substitutions such as using grape tomatoes, less potatoes and using cumin powder, the tava still came out good.

I agree with Tessa and quote her:

This is so simple. It's a very typical Cypriot all-in-one-meal. You just need the time to prepare the lamb and vegetables, then you can fling it in the oven, go out for a (Greek) coffee and come home to a ready meal. You could use lamb chops and leave them whole instead of cutting them into chunks, which makes it even simpler. And it doesn't need much by way of accompaniments, perhaps a salad or some simply sauteed vegetables.

Tava (Cypriot Baked Lamb & Potatoes with cumin & Tomatoes)

2 red onions, roughly chopped
1.2 kg potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 kg lamb, cut into chunks
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil (I think it's a lil' to much, will cut down next time)
4 0r 5 ripe tomatoes, cut into thick slices
50g butter (there can never be too much butter)

Preheat your oven to 180°C,Put the onion, potato and lamb in a 20 cup-capacity casserole dish or a deep baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Add the parsley, cumin and olive oil and mix thoroughly very well with your hands. Put the tomato slices on top in a single layer and season lightly with salt. Dot the butter over the top and pour about 1/2 cup of water around the sides of the dis. Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours, tilting the dish from side to side a couple of times and spooning some of the pan juices over the top. The lamb should be very tender, and the potatoes soft.

Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 200°C and cook for another 45 mins or so, turning the lamb halfway through, or until the meat and potatoes are a little browned and the liquid has reduced. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 6

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