One of the many things I love about traveling – aside from meeting new and old friends, seeing historical places, and falling in love with different cultures – is food! From fresh spring rolls in Ho Chi Minh to shabu-shabu and Sake in Tokyo, food completes the experience of traveling. A country’s culture, history, and social norms are etched in its food and culinary customs.
Whenever I travel, aside from trying out local food, I make sure I learn how to prepare a dish from the country I visit. I see it as the best souvenir I can get from my trips, something I can take home and share to my networks back home.
Filipino food is also what I bring when I go out of the country. When I have time, I usually cook for my friends and hosts in a foreign country. In April 2013, for example, when I stayed in my Vietnamese friend’s house in Da Lat, I cooked chicken adobo for her family as a sign of gratitude. When I attended the IDEA 2013 camp in Taiwan, I made sure all my friends taste the Filipino goods I brought.
While I don’t usually cook at home, there are some Southeast Asian dishes I’ve mastered due to my frequent visits to their countries of origin. These dishes have also become my favorites and I usually crave for them even when I’m in Manila.
One of these dishes is Malaysian chicken satay. While this dish is also famous in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, I follow the recipe I learned from Malaysia.
I’m posting this since a lot of my friends have been asking for it after I prepared it for them (and because I’ve only gotten positive reviews so far). The ingredients and the recipe for the satay marinate and peanut sauce can be found below.
Serving for 6-8 people.
- 1 cup minced lemon grass
- 4 shallots or 1 white onion
- 2 tablespoons of Cayenne pepper
- 3 small yellow ginger (or galangal)
- 5 cloves of garlic
- Coriander leaves (It’s difficult to find this in supermarkets. You can cook without it.)
- 3 tablespoons of Cumin
- 2 tablespoons of yellow curry powder
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons fish sauce (or patis)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons of brown sugar (better if you use muscovado)
- 10-12 chicken thigh cut into strips
- Cut the chicken into your desired size.
- Mince the shallots/ white onion, lemon grass, yellow ginger, garlic, and coriander leaves.
- Mix all the marinate ingredients together in a bowl. Add water, soy sauce or sugar to adjust to your desired taste.
- Put the marinate in the tupperware and mix with the chicken. Make sure all the meat cuts are soaked in the marinate.
- Refrigerate the mix overnight (or a minimum of 6 hours). Make sure it’s well-sealed unless you want your refrigerator to smell like curry powder.
- You can cook satay by grilling it in a barbecue or by frying. I personally prefer the latter since it takes less time to do.
- Put vegetable oil in the pan. Once the oil’s hot, put the marinated chicken strips in the pan.
- To add more flavor to the chicken, you can add some of the marinate sauce while frying. I usually add soy sauce and muscovado in the chicken to make it more tasty and a bit caramelized.
- You now have a chicken satay!
This complements the chicken satay. If you cook it well enough, it can serve as a rice topping in itself!
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh peanuts
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon of tamarind paste (calamansi would be a good substitute)
- 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil/ sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of fish oil (patis)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 small pieces of yellow ginger
- Grind the peanuts using a blender or the traditional mortar and pestle.
- Roast the peanuts in a pan. Around 15 minutes will do.
- Mince the yellow ginger and garlic.
- Saute all the ingredients before adding water and sugar.
- Add water, sugar and/or soy sauce to get your desired taste.
- Heat until the sauce becomes thick and starts boiling.
- Serve with the chicken satay!
This dish is fairly easy to do although it takes a lot of preparation time because of the marinate. You are also free to experiment on the flavors of the sauce and satay. Personally, I don’t like spicy food so I use very little cayenne pepper.
Do you know how to make other Southeast Asian dishes? Let me know so I can try and share it!