Sunday, December 5, 2010

Curried Chicken Satay

When M & I were eating our way through Singapore back in June, we sought out a hawker stand that apparently served the best Roti John anywhere around. Roti John is this incredibly simple, decadent sort of omelet sandwich which essentially consists of a French baguette coated in butter and then fried in onions and scrambled eggs. It was hot, eggy, crusty and just plain good. Served with sweet chili sauce and a few slices of cucumber, we ate it up quick. Even though we wanted to, the idea of getting another Roti John seemed a bit over the top so we surveyed the other food vendors and spotted some tasty looking satay.

This satay was slightly different from any version I had eaten in the U.S. and I detected that the subtle Indian curry flavor was what set it apart. There was less emphasis on the typical peanut flavors and more of a vibrant sweet curry essence that was really wonderful and aromatic.

This is my attempt at recreating those flavors and I think I did a pretty good job. I love the turmeric yellow the curry powder gives the chicken and the underlying hints of coconut, crunchy peanut butter and soy come together nicely. I let this marinate for a full 24 hours and it was fantastic. There's no doubt that this sauce would compliment tofu, pork, beef, or prawns as well. I didn't do it this go around but I can see saving a little of the marinade before the meat was added to dip the skewers in after they're grilled.

For 8 skewers:
  • 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
  • 3 ounces (80 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon sweet curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound (.5 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
In a medium bowl stir together all the ingredients except the chicken. Set aside. Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes and toss with the curry mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Thread the chicken onto about 8 skewers. Grill, turning occasionally over a medium-hot grill until evenly cooked and charred in some spots, about 7-8 minutes. Alternatively, the skewers can be cooked in batches in a hot non-stick skillet until browned on all sides and cooked through.

Serve the skewers with steamed jasmine rice, grilled asparagus, lime wedges, chopped chiles, and some fresh herbs such as mint, basil or --if you must--cilantro (but not near me, because I can smell it from here).

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