There are a million chicken satay recipes on the Internet. Why should you make this one? The sauce! Spicy curry paste and a peanut sauce made with sweet chile jam add so much depth to the grilled chicken. Plus, I make the peanut sauce with pounded roasted peanuts, which give it a chunkier texture and richer flavor than using plain old peanut butter. Coconut milk shows up in two places: mixed into the rich and creamy sauce and in the chicken marinade to keep the meat moist and tender (nobody likes dry satay). It’s important to let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours before cooking, so do that first. You can also prepare the marinade the day before and let the meat sit overnight in the fridge.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
Vegetable oil, for grilling
FOR THE POUNDED PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE
Makes about 2 cups
¾ cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon sweet chile jam, store-bought or homemade
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Chile oil, for drizzling (optional)
First, make the Pounded Peanut Dipping Sauce: Pound the peanuts in a mortar and pestle or pulse in a food processor until ground (take care not to pulse them into peanut butter). You can also finely chop them on a cutting board.
Pour ½ cup of the coconut milk into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to separate from the coconut milk, about 2 minutes, stir in the curry paste and chile jam and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rest of the coconut milk, the brown sugar, fish sauce, and ground peanuts. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken and reduce, 2–3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and remove from the heat.
If desired, drizzle the peanut sauce with a little chile oil before serving. Set aside until ready to serve.
To make the satay: In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, coriander, turmeric, cumin, salt, and white pepper. Add the coconut milk and stir until combined.
Place the chicken on a cutting board and cover with a layer of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin, small skillet, or meat mallet to pound and flatten the chicken until it is about ½-inch thick. Slice the chicken against the grain (lengthwise) into strips about 1-inch wide. You should end up with 20 strips.
Add the chicken strips to the bowl of marinade, tossing and massaging to coat evenly. (Alternatively, you can also put everything in a resealable plastic bag.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge and place twenty 6-inch bamboo skewers in water to soak.
Remove the skewers from the water and thread 1 strip of chicken onto each skewer, leaving the bottom quarter empty to act as a handle. Reserve the leftover marinade to brush on while grilling.
At least 5 minutes before cooking, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat, or adjust an oven rack to the highest position, place a sheet pan on the rack, and preheat the broiler. Brush the grill grates, the grill pan, or the sheet pan with oil to help keep the chicken from sticking. Cook the chicken on one side until browned but not charred, 3–5 minutes, brushing once or twice with the reserved marinade and sprinkling with a pinch of salt. Flip the skewers over and cook on the other side until the meat is just cooked through and browned, another 3–5 minutes.
Serve the satay with peanut sauce and roti, for dipping.