Thai satays can be found all over the streets of Thailand, and they're almost always made from pork, but you can also use chicken or beef. The peanut sauce in this recipe is so good you can put it on anything you like, however, few people know that in Thailand, peanut sauce is only used on satays and a handful of other dishes like this salad. (No, Thai people do not put peanut sauce on everything despite what you might have been led to believe!)
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- 1 lb pork loin, cut into 2-cm thick chops, chicken, or beef (see note)
- ¼ cup coconut milk for basting
- Small 6-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 2-3 hours
- 4 slices white bread
- 1 ½ tsp coriander seeds, toasted
- ½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted
- ¼ tsp white peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp lemongrass, chopped
- 1 tsp galangal, minced
- 1 tsp chopped fresh turmeric or ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground clove
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ Tbsp white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup water
- 2 Tbsp red curry paste, panang curry paste, or massaman curry paste (each one will give a slightly different flavour)
- 1¼ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup roasted peanuts
- 2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds (or substitute 2 tablespoon more peanuts)
- 1-2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped palm sugar
- 2-3 tablespoon tamarind juice
Quick Cucumber Pickle (Ajaad)
- ½ cup quartered and sliced cucumber
- 1 Tbsp thinly sliced shallots
- 8-10 slices of spur chilies, jalapenos, serranos, or fresno chilies,
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- a pinch of salt
Cut the pork chops in half along the length of the fatty rind. Then slice each piece, along the short side, into ¼-inch thick pieces. (See video for a visual.) If using beef, cut into thin slices against the grain. If using chicken, cut into small cubes.
For the marinade:
Grind coriander, cumin seeds, and white peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until very fine, then add galangal, lemongrass and fresh turmeric (if using); pound until fine. Add turmeric powder (if using), cinnamon, clove, brown sugar, salt, vinegar, coconut milk, and water; stir to mix well.
Pour the marinade over the meat, massage with your hands, making sure that no pieces of meat are stuck together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
For the peanut sauce:
In a food processor, grind the peanuts into a fine meal. If using sesame seeds, grind them into a fine meal using a spice/coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle, being careful not to over grind them into sesame butter.
In a small pot over medium heat, reduce ¼ cup of the coconut milk by about half. Add curry paste and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until it is very thick. If it thickens too quickly, add a splash of coconut milk to help loosen it up.
Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, ground peanuts, ground sesame seeds (if using), fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind juice. Simmer for a few more minutes until it has thickened into a dip consistency, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom from scorching.
Taste and adjust seasoning with more sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind juice as needed.
For the Quick Cucumber Pickle (Ajaad):
In a small pot, combine vinegar, sugar and salt; bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely.
Place the cucumber, shallots, and chilies into a small serving bowl and pour the cooled vinegar mixture over it. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.
(Note: You do not have to grill these; I sometimes just sear the skewers on a skillet on both sides to get a nice browning on the meat.)
Preheat the grill to medium.
Skewer the meat onto bamboo skewers, about 3 pieces to each skewer, and lay them flat on a tray. Brush the top side of the skewers with coconut milk, then place on the grill, coconut-nut-milk-side-down. Brush the other side with coconut milk and grill for a minute or so just until it is halfway cooked. Flip the skewers and grill the other side just until done. These are small and thin skewers and should only take a couple of minutes to grill, so watch them carefully and do not overcook them!
When ready to serve:
Finish the ajaad by pouring the cooled vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Place bread on the grill to toast (you can also just toast the bread in the toaster) and cut each piece of toast into 9 squares. Serve the grilled satay skewers on a platter alongside peanut sauce, ajaad, and toast.
Note: The toast is typically dipped into the peanut sauce, and the ajaad can be eaten in between bites as a palate cleanser or together with the satay.
If using chicken, both dark and white meat work well, but I prefer dark because it more moist and juicy, and is more forgiving should you overcook it slightly. If using beef, make sure you choose a tender cut, and cut the meat against the grain.
Keywords: Satay, street food, kabobs, grilling