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