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Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
This recipe calls for coconut milk and coconut cream, the rich layer of fat that rises to the top of canned coconut milk. Do not shake the can before opening. Spoon off the layer of cream for the marinade, then stir the remaining milk and use it in the sauce.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.


  • 5 shallots, quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved
  • 3 red serrano chilies, halved
  • 3 Tbs. finely chopped lemongrass, center white
      part only
  • 2 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • About 4 Tbs. water
  • 2 Tbs. unsweetened coconut cream
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 1 1/2
      lb. total, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 piece fresh or frozen galangal, about 1 inch
      long, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. peanut or corn oil
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, or more as
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced, for


In a blender, combine 2 shallots, 2 garlic cloves, 1 chili and 2 Tbs. of the lemongrass. Process until finely chopped. Add 1 Tbs. of the coriander, the granulated sugar, 1 tsp. of the cumin, 1 tsp. of the salt and about 2 Tbs. of the water, just enough to facilitate blending. Process until a smooth paste is formed. Pour into a nonaluminum bowl, add the coconut cream and mix thoroughly. Add the chicken, turn to coat evenly, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Prepare a fire in a grill. Position a rack about 2 inches from the heat source. Metal or wooden skewers can be used; if using wooden skewers, soak in water to cover for 20 to 30 minutes and drain.

In a blender, combine the galangal, the remaining 3 shallots, remaining 3 garlic cloves, remaining 2 chilies, remaining 1 Tbs. lemongrass, remaining 1 Tbs. coriander, remaining 1 tsp. cumin and about 2 Tbs. of the water, just enough to facilitate blending. Process until a smooth paste is formed.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in the palm sugar, fish sauce, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 cup coconut milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beads of oil appear on the surface, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Add more coconut milk if needed to make a thick, creamy sauce. Pour the peanut sauce into a shallow bowl.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade. Thread 5 or 6 pieces on each skewer, allowing them to touch. Place directly on the grill rack. Cook, turning once, until the chicken has charred edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Arrange the skewers on a serving platter, garnish with the cucumber, and accompany with the peanut sauce.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Asian Flavors, by Joyce Jue (Time-Life Books, 1999).