I don’t get why a lot of people don’t like peanut sauce. Of course if you’re allergic to peanuts that’s understandable, but I can’t really classify peanut sauce as an acquired taste. Okra, hell yeah, but peanut sauce? Not so much.
I’ve been wanting to create a satay sauce for a while now. “The main ingredient is ground roasted peanuts, for which peanut butter can act as a substitute. Several different recipes for making peanut sauces exist, resulting in a variety of flavours. A typical recipe usually contains ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter (smooth or crunchy), coconut milk, soy sauce, galangal, garlic, and spices (such as coriander seed, cumin, etc). Other possible ingredients are chili peppers, sugar, milk, fried onions, and lemon grass.” (from wikipedia)
I don’t think it’s particularly Filipino – it’s more Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian or Indonesian than anything else. But I have been tasting it on grilled chicken in some of the restos around town and while my friends opted to pass, I enjoyed every tender juicy morsel of chicken-y peanutty goodness down to the bone. They don’t know what they’re missing basically.
My first attempt at satay sauce was pretty good. Instead of either ground peanuts or peanut butter as the main flavoring, I opted to use both. Usually recipes call for dry roasted peanuts, but I didn’t have that on hand so I used whatever unsalted peanut variety was in the pantry so I used walnuts.
I ground them in my little convenient immersion blender with the food processor attachment with tiny slices of ginger.
I was really inspired by the elimination round where Marion and Aaron (from Masterchef Australia) had to make the perfect satay sauce to avoid elimination. Marion, one of the best cooks in the competition, was eliminated but watching the magic that happened during that round really whet my appetite for good satay sauce.
The only thing I didn’t add was coconut milk since: 1. The fresh kind takes a while to make and I don’t know how to do it alone and 2. I didn’t have the canned variety and I wanted to use the fresh kind.
So what is that? Dinuguan? Melted chocolate? No that’s my satay sauce (cue the defeated “awww”). I’m not really happy with the color but I like the way it tasted. I’ll make sure to add coconut milk next time. (cue applause)
So what’s satay sauce without the meat, right? I’ve never tried the sauce with any meat except chicken, so I decided to play it safe and used chicken thighs. Another proud moment I had was when I filleted the chicken thighs all by my lonesome! I bought whole chicken leg and thigh parts because they were cheaper. A few youtube videos here and there and I was deboning chicken thighs like crazy!
I marinated the chicken thighs (and some other parts my mom insisted on adding since we were feeding the “world” [the other people in the house]) in some spices, soy sauce, and peanut butter in keeping with the satay flavor I wanted to have.
I baked the pieces in the oven for almost an hour instead of grilling it since I haven’t really grilled something by my lonesome before. And it’s amazing how juicy and tender it was! It’s a shame I only got to marinade it for 15 minutes. It would’ve been tastier but I’m not really complaining.
Chicken with satay sauce is a classic, but I wanted to add another dimension to it – a side dish that’s fresh to cut through the decadence a bit. So I decided to make a simple tomato in olive oil salad.
Basically I was on a roll today. The chicken with satay went perfectly with the fresh tomatoes – just the right amount of sweet, salty and sour taste that left me craving for more rice. Lunch was great.
Baked chicken with satay sauce and tomato salad (Serves 3 – 4)
4-5 pieces chicken thighsMarinade: Salt and pepper to taste 1 tbsp cayenne pepper ¼ cup light soy sauce 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 2 tbsp peanut butter 1 tbsp sesame oil Satay sauce ¼ cup shelled walnuts 1 tsp minced ginger 1 tbsp sesame oil 1 tbsp minced garlic ¼ cup light soy sauce ¾ cup water 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter 4 tbsp honey 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar Tomato salad 2 medium tomatoes, diced ½ tbsp of chopped celery leaves 1 ½ tbsp mirin 1 tbsp olive oil
Mix all marinade ingredients together and evenly coat the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes or preferably overnight.
Arrange the fillets on a baking rack over a baking pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake on high at 180 C for 45 minutes to one hour.
While the chicken is baking, make the satay sauce:
Grind the walnuts and the ginger until finely ground but not powdery. Heat the sesame oil in a medium sized pan on high. Add the garlic and allow it to toast. Add the ground walnuts and toast it for a few seconds. Add the soy sauce and the water. Lower the heat and stir. Add the peanut butter, honey and vinegar and stir until slightly reduced. Adjust the taste to your preference, adding more of a component if desired. When done, remove from heat and place the sauce in a serving bowl.
Make the tomato salad: combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Allow to rest until ready to serve.
When the juices of the chicken run clear, remove from the oven and place 2-3 chicken fillets on a plate, top it with the satay sauce (be generous) and add the tomato salad on the side. Enjoy.