Thai cuisine is really better described as four regional cuisines corresponding to the four main regions of the country. The cooking of Thailand has been influenced by China and India while maintaining a unique taste of its own. Like Vietnamese food, Thai food uses fresh (rather than dried) herbs and spices as well as the ingredient found in almost all Thai dishes and every region of the country: nam pla, a very aromatic and strong tasting fish sauce.
Marinated and skewered meat slow-charred on gently glowing embers has a universal ability to unleash appetite, and satay is the skewer of choice in all of Southeast Asia. This version uses chicken (although pork can easily be substituted). Wandee makes it her own, lavishing as many flavors on its marinade as she does on the famous Peanut Sauce that is meant to accompany it.
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp sugar
1 btsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soya (soy) sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp nam pla (fish sauce)
16 bamboo skewers
A little oil or coconut milk
Fresh coriander leaves
1. Cut thin (1/4-inch) slices that run the length of the chicken breast (each slice will be 1 inch by 4 inches by 1/4 inch approximately) to get 16 slices. If you find it difficult to cut thinly through fresh meat, leave it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden slightly and then slice.
2. Place the chicken strips in a work bowl. Add all the marinating ingredients (solids first, then the liquids) and gently toss until well mixed. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
3. When ready to cook the satays, stir chicken in its marinade and then thread each slice onto a skewer, working the skewer in and out of the meat, down the middle of the slice, so that it stays in place during grilling.
4. Baste the chicken with oil or coconut milk and grill on a barbecue (that has been burning for a while and is no longer scorching hot) or under the broiler of an indoor oven. Cook for not much more than 2 minutes each side, turning fairly often to prevent unnecessary burning, and baste one more time with oil or coconut milk. The satays are done when they have turned golden brown and crispy along the edges.
5. Serve on lettuce leaves, decorated with fresh coriander leaves, and accompanied by a small bowl of Peanut Sauce on the side.
Simply Thai Cooking
Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu
Robert Rose, Inc., 1996
Recipe reprinted by permission.
from Kate's Global Kitchen
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This page modified January 2007
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