Thai Chicken Satay (Satay Gai)



DSC_0862Chicken satay is a classic appetizer of grilled skewered chicken that is marinated in all the savory spices characteristic of Southeast Asian cuisine: turmeric, coriander, lemongrass, garlic and chili powder.  While satay is internationally known as a popular Thai appetizer, the dish actually originated in Indonesia where it is a national dish.

Regardless of its origins, chicken satay is undisputedly delicious.  My sister and I made the Thai version during our cooking class in Phuket, and the satay was super simple to make.

The peanut sauce, on the other hand, was a bit more involved.  During the class, we used fresh tamarind, which had to be peeled, soaked, and then pressed through a sieve to form a paste.  However, you can usually find tamarind concentrate in a jar at a Southeast Asian grocery store which will speed that process right along.  This is one of the more complicated peanut sauces I have made but the flavors were incredible.  I have attempted other versions using creamy peanut butter; however, there is just no comparison.  If you have the time and patience to try this peanut sauce, definitely give it a go.



Chicken Satay (Satay Gai) (recipe by Aleenta Resort)

Yields: 20 pieces

Satay Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 20 bamboo skewers soaked in cold water
  • 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 3 lemongrass pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 T coriander root, chopped (alternatively, you can use 2 T of coriander stems)
  • 1/2 C coconut milk

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 3 star anise pieces
  • 10″ total cinnamon sticks
  • 3 T massaman curry paste
  • 1 C coconut milk
  • 1/4 C palm sugar
  • 60g of peeled fresh tamarind (or 1 T tamarind concentrate)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 4 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 T ground peanuts


In a small skillet, dry toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant.  Pound it using a mortar and pestle until finely ground.

Pour the toasted ground coriander and cumin with the rest of the satay ingredients into a food processor.  Pulse until you have a thoroughly mixed paste.

Put the paste in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for another 5 minutes, and then set aside.  The paste can be stored in the refrigerator for over a week.


Cut the chicken breast into thin slices about 1″ wide and 3″ long.  Toss the chicken with the paste and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Skewer the meat lengthwise and grill over medium heat until done.

To make the peanut sauce, you need to make the tamarind paste first.  Unless you bought the concentrate from the store, soak the peeled tamarind into warm water for 20 minutes.  Knead the tamarind through the water and press it through your fingers.  Pass it through a sieve using the back side of a spoon.  Discard the remains of the paste.

In a dry skillet, toast the cardamon pods, anise stars, and cinnamon sticks until fragrant.

Add the water and in the following order, in intervals, the massaman curry paste, coconut milk, palm sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce and the peanut grind.  Stir frequently and simmer until the sauce thickens.



Serve the freshly grilled chicken skewers with the peanut sauce and some fresh cucumber slices.  Enjoy!

One Response to “Thai Chicken Satay (Satay Gai)”
  1. Looks and sounds great! I love satay, but I never had this kind of satay; I usually make an Indonesian version of it . I will keep your recipe and I’m looking forward trying this! I’m sure my family will love this!

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