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How to Make Authentic Malay Chicken Satay


I grew up in Malaysia, where I enjoyed cooking and eating local dishes every day.

Delicious chicken satay!

Delicious chicken satay!

Authentic chicken and beef satay served with peanut sauce, nasi impit, and sliced cucumbers.

Authentic chicken and beef satay served with peanut sauce, nasi impit, and sliced cucumbers.

Growing Up With Malay Cuisine

Malay cooking has been an important part of my life since I was young. I grew up in a small town with a traditional Malay family. I learned to cook by watching and helping my mother. It was with her that I began learning to recognize some of the essential ingredients and techniques of Malay cuisine.

In Malay cuisine, for instance, ingredients must blend harmoniously, yet retain the distinct flavor. The ingredients are crucial to the execution of each dish because every single flavor is a critical part of a whole. Let's take an example of chicken or beef satay. The requirements of having the fundamental ingredients for this dish are very important.

Chicken Satay

In Malaysia, chicken satay or beef satay is usually served with peanut sauce (kuah kacang), compressed rice (nasi impit), fresh slices of cucumber, and fresh slices of onions. Besides peanut sauce, nasi impit is an accompaniment for satay, is made up of compressed cooked rice.

I love the flavor of the sweet and spicy chicken that comes from lemongrass, cumin, galangal, fresh turmeric, onions, and garlic. It requires a significant amount of time to prepare this dish, but if I have time—for example, on a relaxing weekend—I love taking the opportunity to make it.


For the chicken and marinade paste:

  • 2 pounds chicken breast (sliced thin)
  • 1 inch galangal
  • 2 inches fresh turmeric
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (you can use crushed lemongrass, just like I did)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon aniseed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar

For the peanut sauce:

  • 400 grams raw peanuts
  • 6 dried chilies
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. Before preparing this recipe, soak the wooden skewers in water for a while. This helps prevent the skewers from burning during the grilling process.
  2. In a large bowl, blend all of the marinade paste ingredients together. Add the sliced chicken to the marinade and mix. Cover the bowl, and put in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, roast the peanuts until they brown. Allow them to cool.
  4. When the peanuts have cooled, remove the skins. Blend them to a powder and set aside.
  5. Prepare the paste: Blend the dried chilies, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, shallots, and water. Make a thick paste.
  6. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the paste until it is fragrant. Add water, lemongrass, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Throw in the ground peanuts into the pan followed by the tamarind paste, salt, palm sugar, and white sugar. (Adjust the taste as you prefer by adding more salt or sugar).
  8. Add water to thicken the sauce.
  9. Turn the heat off and set the peanut sauce aside.
  10. To make the satay: After the chicken finishes marinating, thread the marinated chicken onto the skewers. I recommend putting on gloves for this step, as the yellow paste will stain your hands.
  11. Brush some oil on the chicken before placing it on the grill. Grill 6-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
  12. Serve chicken satay immediately with warm peanut sauce, sliced cucumber, and thin-sliced onions.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where I can buy or get the galangal?

Answer: You can find it at any Asian market.

© 2018 Liza


Liza (author) from USA on March 04, 2019:

Why don't you try to make it? Since the first time I made for my husband, it becomes one of his favorite Malaysian dishes. The ingredients can be a little challenge but, you can get them at the Asian store. Thanks for commenting, Luke.

Luke St Clair on March 04, 2019:

This looks so good. I love cooking and eating meat on a stick!

Liza (author) from USA on October 12, 2018:

Hi Rajan,

I have never used lemon juice for this dish before but, you know what you should try it! I bet it tastes good. Do let me know the result. Thanks for stopping by.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 12, 2018:

The chicken satay looks so juicy and full of flavor. Would love to try it out. We do not get galangal here though. Would adding lemon/juice be okay?

Liza (author) from USA on March 06, 2018:

Hi Margie! Hehe, yea. I'd love to cook for anyone who wants to taste the traditional Malay food. Thanks for stopping by!

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on March 06, 2018:

I would love to taste it Liza! That is if you would cook it for me, I do not think I would do it like you! Thanks for sharing!

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