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feels so colorado

Recipe: chicken satay with peanut sauce

It’s now officially summer! To be honest, it has been feeling like summer around here since May with all the heat and pollen and wildfires. But this past week was spent in true summer fashion: hiking, paddling, trail running, and lots of time spent in the high country. We like to get those early morning starts to take advantage of the cool air, the solitude, and the chance to spot wildlife like moose, grouse, deer, marmots, and other mountain residents of the non-human persuasion. Oh, and the wildflowers are starting to look pretty amazing.

happy neva on a hike

mountain stream cascade flanked by wildflowers

jeremy and neva at the end of a 12-mile hike

blue columbines on my trail run

…and more columbines on my trail run!

After last week’s recipe for grilling sourdough pizzas, I’m still all about the grill. When people mention grilling season, I’m always baffled because we grill all year long – even when we have to shovel a path in 3 feet of snow to get to the grill. But I suppose summer is true grilling season when you don’t want to cook inside the house and you can stand in shorts, flip flops, and hold a cold beverage while tending dinner over a tamed fire – that thing which distinguishes us from all the other animals. No matter how or when you grill, I think this chicken satay with peanut sauce should get some rotation in your dinner and/or party schedules. It’s long on ingredients, but short on preparation. Start with the chicken. [Note: I made a half batch in the photos, but the recipe is for a full batch which serves 8.]

lemon grass, shallot, salt, turmeric, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, garlic, chicken, canola oil, fish sauce

coarsely chopped lemon grass, shallots, garlic

place everything but the chicken in a food processor

purée into a smooth(ish) paste

When the satay paste is ready, stir it into the chicken until all of the pieces are coated with the paste. Load the pieces onto skewers and refrigerate them for 30 minutes to an hour. Alternatively, if you don’t have that much space in your refrigerator, you could refrigerate and marinate the chicken first and then skewer them right before grilling.

cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces (about 1-inch)

coat the chicken with the paste

While the chicken marinates, make the peanut sauce. Some peanut sauces are as simple as stirring hot water into creamy peanut butter and then mixing in various flavorings (hoisin sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, etc.). This peanut sauce is made from scratch, but quite straightforward and wonderfully aromatic. And if you want to make this gluten-free, it’s easy enough to replace the soy sauce with tamari and the fish sauce (both in the peanut sauce and the satay) with a gluten-free fish sauce like Red Boat or Thai Kitchen.

water, brown sugar, ginger, jalapeño pepper, garlic, lemon grass, shallots, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, unsalted roasted peanuts, canola oil, fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk

slice, chop, or mince the aromatics

cook the aromatics in the oil

about 10 minutes until browned and softened

When the aromatics are ready, place them in a food processor with the peanuts, coconut milk, brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes and blitz the whole thing until smooth. But wait! You’re not done just yet. Empty the sauce back into your saucepan and cook it over low heat which stirring. Over 20 minutes, it will transform from a creamy sauce into a deep golden paste with the fat separating out. At this point, whisk in the hot water until the sauce is smooth.

combine the aromatics with the peanuts, coconut milk, brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes

purée until smooth

cook the sauce over low heat

the sauce will darken and oil should separate from the solids

whisk in hot water

smooth and creamy

You can keep the sauce warm over very very low heat (so it doesn’t burn) while you cook the chicken satay. If you are making this ahead of time, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it over low heat and if it is too thick, whisk in a tablespoon or two of hot water until you get it just right. For the chicken skewers, we grill them directly over a medium-high flame to get a little charring. Turn the skewers for even cooking (and charring) for about 10-12 minutes.

ready to grill

some light charring is good

right off the grill

I like serving these alongside some Thai cucumber salad for a refreshing and tasty appetizer or even a meal with some steamed rice. The chicken and peanut sauce burst with bright flavors of ginger,lime, and lemon grass, a little heat from the jalapeños, and earthiness from the peanuts and coconut. It tastes much fancier than the effort required to make it, which is all the more reason to make it!

serve with cucumber salad

party food or part of a meal

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
[print recipe]
from Food & Wine

chicken satay
3 stalks lemongrass (bottom 8 inches, outer layer removed, cut into 2-inch pieces)
2 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsps ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsps fish sauce (use Red Boat or Thai Kitchen for gluten-free versions)
1 1/2 tbsps kosher salt
2 tbsps canola oil
4 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

peanut sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
4 medium shallots, peeled, trimmed, and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass (bottom 8 inches, outer layer removed, cut into 2-inch pieces)
1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (remove seeds for less heat)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsps light brown sugar
3 tbsps lime juice
2 tbsps fish sauce (use Red Boat or Thai Kitchen for gluten-free versions)
1 tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free version)
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup hot water

Prepare the chicken satay: Place the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, sugar, coriander, cumin, turmeric, fish sauce, salt, and canola oil in a food processor. Purée into a paste. Empty the marinade and the chicken into a bowl and toss to coat the chicken. Thread the chicken onto skewers and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. While the chicken marinates, prepare the peanut sauce.

Make the peanut sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, jalapeño, and ginger to the hot oil. Stir until the ingredients have softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Empty the contents into a food processor along with the peanuts, coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Process into a smooth paste. Pour everything back into the medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the sauce turns thick and the fat separates from the solids (about 20 minutes). Whisk in the hot water until the sauce is smooth. Keep warm over low heat or chill in the refrigerator if making ahead. The sauce keeps up to 5 days and can gently reheated. If it is too thick, stir in a tablespoon or two of hot water until desired consistency.

Grill the chicken: Grill the chicken skewers over medium-high heat. Turn the skewers to get an even light char on the chicken until the pieces are cooked through – about 10-12 minutes. Serve with peanut sauce. Serves 8.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

thai chicken, asparagus, and baby corn thai firecracker shrimp thai cucumber salad chicken kebabs

14 nibbles at “feels so colorado”

  1. Melissa says:

    I feel somehow relieved that our marinating ingredients are not very dissimilar. :P I also add galangal and coconut milk but otherwise, yeah. And I am just so damn happy to finally have a grill for stuff like this. I have been putting off satay for years. It’s the best thing.

  2. Kristin says:

    This looks so much better than any satay I have seen or made in the past. It’s got to have much deeper flavor. Those shallots are calling my name, and I have some jalapenos that are just about ready to pick in the garden! I have NOT been wanting to cook lately, mainly because of the heat, so thanks for some inspiration!

  3. Amanda says:

    Chicken satay is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. I’m going ingredient shopping. Thank you for this!

  4. Pey-Lih says:

    Absolutely beautiful and mouth watering dripping all over my MacBook! I don’t have a grill, but I think this recipe should not be a problem. Your peanut sauce is the real deal! Thank you, Jen!

  5. Denise says:

    I wish it was feeling like summer in the Bay Area – my fingers are crossed every day for sunshine or at least not being 60. We actually went to the Eastern Sierras to camp and enjoy heat last weekend – was the perfect way to kick off summer.

    I am loving everything about this recipe as the flavors speak to me! I am adding it to our summer grill season or should I say our year-round grill sessions?

    Happy Summer to you!

  6. Nathalie Dubé says:

    Hi! First I would like to congratulate you on all of your beautiful receipes and your true love of life . I can feel your passion each time I read your acticle. It nurrish my heart at the same time ?.
    I was also hoping you can help me to

    find an article that you wrote at some point that gave suggestions of where to go , to eat or visit depending how long we would stay ( in your region)can you help me for that matter?thank you

  7. jenyu says:

    Mel – I think there are probably many similar variations, but I just love how it is loaded with all of those fresh flavors. It took me until last year to try to make my own chicken satay. Wait, I made a “cheater” version about 15 years ago and it was lame, so maybe that’s why I didn’t attempt another recipe? Either way, I’m glad we’re both there now :)

    Kristin – Oh man, homegrown jalapeños? I’d gladly trade with you! :)

    Amanda – You’re very welcome!

    Pey-Lih – You’re so resourceful! Glad you’re not letting a lack of grill keep you making these!

    Denise – Aw! I really wish we could swap weather for a few weeks. It’s getting too toasty/crunchy in the mountains around here and we’re always worried about wildfires. Love the Sierra Nevada! xoxo

    Nathalie – Thank you! And yes, I have a couple of pages on Boulder ( and Crested Butte ( with lists of restaurants I like. The Crested Butte page is more up to date than the Boulder page, but you can also send me an email (jenyuie at gmail) if you want more recent recommendations. All the best!

  8. jill hyde says:

    Oh these are a definitely must try in the Hyde house! Love those wildflower pics. Do I see Jeremy in fishing gloves? I’ve started to wear them too, to avoid sun spots. The things we do for vanity and our Oncologist! xoxo, jill

  9. Kristin says:

    Wish I could send you some jalapenos!

  10. Kristin says:

    Made this tonight, and it was great! The kitchen smelled wonderful while I was prepping, and the chicken was so flavorful. And I loved how the peanut sauce had so much more depth than the quicker versions, and wasn’t as sweet and salty as they can be.

  11. Chef Veronica says:

    This is just perfect for summer parties here in NYC. The mountains are just beautiful Jen. I’ve been following you for at least 10 years now and it never gets tired. You both are living the life in natural beauty!

  12. Angela says:

    I’m on the same boat as Chef Veronica, been following you for about a decade since I started college, and never commented! I absolutely adore your website. Thank you so much for keeping it beautiful, delicious, and interesting!!!!!

  13. jenyu says:

    jill – Those are actually sun gloves, I don’t think they are for fishing specifically. We both wear these to protect from the sun – I get sun rashes! :)

    Kristin – So glad you liked it and I completely agree with how much better this peanut sauce is than other recipes!

    Chef Veronica – Thank you! xo

    Angela – Thanks for commenting and reading! It’s always nice to know folks out there enjoy the blog <3 xoxo

  14. kat says:

    Wow! This was so good! Everything about it was just delicious. Thank you.

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