Just Good Food

by John Ryan


Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
...Traditional Grill Food

Serves 6 or so as an appetizer;
4 as a dinner


These skewers make a great party appetizer, partly because they cook quickly, and partly because they are faintly sweet and mysterious, but mostly because they're on a stick. Can you remember anything on a stick that wasn't good?


3 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Peanut sauce:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 anchovies
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons peanut butter
Lemon or lime juice to taste


1. Stir the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Slice the chicken into approximately 24 (1/2-inch) strips and stir with the marinade. The chicken won't be swimming in marinade; it should just be a nice sticky mess.

2. Measure the peanut sauce ingredients (except for the peanut butter and lemon or lime juice) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, pull it off the heat and let the coconut steep for 15 minutes or so.

3. Pour the milk mixture through a strainer, then use the back of a spoon to mash out every last drop of liquid. Throw the solids away.

4. Stir the peanut butter into the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly—5 minutes or so—then add lemon or lime juice to taste. It's done. Plan to serve the sauce warm.

5. Meanwhile, thread the meat on skewers, either in a long wavy "S" or poke the skewer straight through the length of the meat. Don't let the skewer tip poke out very far. Grill the chicken right away or cover and refrigerate.

6. Grill the chicken. Serve the sauce as a dipping sauce and/or a sort of gravy for rice.


I often serve this with rice. If you do, keep in mind that the skewers will only take about 5 minutes on the grill, so time the rice accordingly. For 4 people you'll want to cook 2 cups of rice.

Some cooks have you soak bamboo skewers in water so they don't char on the grill. I don't soak skewers. There is nothing wrong with the practice, I just rarely do it. To prevent the tips from burning up, I don't expose them—I don't poke them through the meat.


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John Ryan

Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.


This page created July 1999