The first time I had this combination of flavors I was in the Netherlands of all places. I had never heard of the word ‘satay’ and I had never dreamed of creating a sauce with lime, peanut butter and coconut milk. I can tell you that this meal was the furthest thing from my mind when trying to imagine what would be on the Dutch menu. How wrong I was!
A major Social Studies lesson for my students is to understand the effects of cultural diffusion – you know, the sharing of ideas and customs between various peoples throughout the ages. Chicken Satay is a perfect example of cultural diffusion. I’ve come to learn that satay originated in Indonesia. You world history buffs probably remember that Indonesia was a Dutch colony back-in-the-day. The rest, as they say, is history…… meaning, the Dutch people took the awesome flavor combos they loved from the Indonesian diet and brought them back to Europe, where they are still being enjoyed today. (The Dutch people also got a hold of cocoa beans way, way back when they were being used by the ancient Aztec people. The ingenious Dutch people added sugar and milk to cocoa powder to create chocolate as we know it today…. another fine example of cultural diffusion. But enough with the history lessons! School’s out!)
What is satay you may be asking? A beautiful selection of meats skewered and grilled and served with a spicy peanut sauce. This one is easy enough to whip up after a day at work. It’s nice enough to serve to company. Just add some lime/cilantro rice and a bright vegetable and you have a complete meal.
Here’s what you need for the marinade:
¼ C soy sauce
¼ C lemon juice
2 T vegetable oil
1 T sugar
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
Here’s what you need for the peanut sauce:
2 heads garlic, minced very fine
1 shallot, minced very fine
2 T lime juice – use fresh!
1 T brown sugar
½ t coriander (or more….it’s citrusy, so we love it)
¼ t hot red pepper flakes (or more)
¾ C peanut butter
1 C coconut milk (lite is fine…. I sometimes use the entire can)
Here’s what you do:
Marinate the chicken in the soy, lemon juice, vegetable oil, sugar and lime zest for no more than 30 minutes. Arrange chicken on skewers, grill, baste with marinade.
Create the sauce by mincing the garlic and shallot. (You know what I’m going to suggest….. with the blade running on your processor, drop both the garlic and shallot down in there and you will get it perfectly minced every time!)
Add the remaining sauce ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a small sauce pan and heat slowly. Sometimes I strain out the bits of garlic and shallot, but that’s a personal preference.
Tonight I made regular rice and squeezed lots of lime juice over it. I also mixed in lots of fresh cilantro. This is a perfect side dish because you can drizzle (or pour) all that excellent sauce over the rice!