Chicken and two simple ingredients are all you need to make this tasty Indonesian Chicken Satay recipe. Served alongside a simple and slightly spicy peanut sauce for dipping. A taste of Bali right in your own kitchen!
Only a few short months before the world went into lockdown my husband I embarked on magical trip to Bali, Indonesia. Beyond the beautiful sunsets, beaches and temples was a world of food that I had never explored until then!
Indonesian food is not easily or found at all where I live in Ontario unless maybe I took a drive into Toronto for the day but that is hardly convenient so until this trip I had never ever had Indonesian food.
Three things that come to mind when I think of Bali now are incredible food bursting with flavour, the most amazing sunsets and beach clubs ever, and it is the hottest place I have ever been! I mean, not Caribbean hot. Hot like you are sitting on top of a barbecue under radiant lighting and about a foot from the sun hot!
In all fairness though, I am Canadian and arrived in late November so my body was adjusted to cold temps but jeesh! I have never experienced heat like in Bali!
This is a picture of Lou and me at the Tegallalang Rice Terraces just outside of Ubud. This was about 9 am and the heat was already into the 40s or well over 100 degrees. We went for a hike with our guide Gede walking up and down the narrow terraces through the farmer’s fields paying a small entry fee to each private field to support the local farmer and thank them for entry.
It was a humbling experience to feel so hot and see these workers in the fields under such heat toiling away to harvest grains of rice. I was so torn, feeling so uncomfortable in my own clothes yet so inwardly embarrassed at my privilege of not having to work hard in such heat. This reckoning while at the same time being surrounded by such beauty is an experience I will never forget.
I could go on and on about the wonders of Bali but I will save that for another post… back to the food!
Food trucks or carts weren’t something I saw much of in Bali, unlike some of the other Asian countries I have visited. Instead, it is much the same as here. Either you go to a sit-down restaurant or you go to a smaller take-out/sit down and run sort of establishment. In Bali, these are called Warungs.
We had the best Indonesian Grilled Chicken Satays at a place down the street from our hotel and when visiting sit-down full-service restaurants you would often see them served on individual mini charcoal barbecues like the one shown above. Boy, do I wish I bought some to bring or ship home!
But since most of us don’t have these mini charcoal barbecues a traditional barbecue or even better a charcoal barbecue works best if you have the time to fire it up!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Chicken – Chicken thighs or chicken breast work best. Both with the bones, skin and any large pieces of fat trimmed.
- Kecap manis – This is a sweet soy sauce popular in Indonesia. You will find it in most asian or food markets that carry global foods. It it is not called Kecap Manis on the bottle it will be called sweet soy sauce.
- Butter – unsalted or salted works find. I use unsaled because soy sauce is inherintly salty so you really don’t need the tiny bit of extra salt in the salted butter.
- Skewers – short or long… doesn’t matter.
And for the Peanut Sauce You’ll Need
- Peanut butter – I use natural peanut butter because I don’t want my peanut sauce to taste too sweet. But any smooth peanut butter will do.
- Coconut milk – Not the kind you pour into smoothies but the canned kind. When you open the can the coconut fat will have risen to the top so just give it a good stir and then measure from there. The coconut helps to thin out the sauce to make it dippable while adding a great south east asian flavour.
- Kecap manis – Yup… that sweet soy sauce again!
- Garlic – Because if you know me garlic is in almost any dinner recipe.
- Lime juice – Cuts the fat and adds a great tanginess to this dip.
- Brown sugar – Add a little sweetness that is much easier to adjust and control when you use natural peanut butter.
- Crushed red peppers – Totally optional but adds a nice kick of heat. Or if you can find it and really like spicy food replace the peppers with a little sambal oelek.
How to make Indonesian Chicken Satay
Cut the chicken into small 1″ thick and max 2″ wide slices.
Add the chicken, kecap manis and melted butter to a large bowl and mix. Well to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid and leave to marinate in the fridge for about a half-hour.
While the chicken marinates, prepare your skewers if you are using bamboo or wood by placing them in a dish with some water.
Let them sit in the water for about a half-hour to absorb some of the water. This will prevent them from catching on fire while cooking or burning to the point of crumbling. Discard the water once they have soaked.
Once the chicken has marinated, thread the pieces of chicken onto the skewer making sure not to leave any spaces between the chicken. Unlike other skewers made with vegetables, these skewers are best when the protein fits tightly together.
When the chicken cooks in this manner it will almost cook together which results in a firmer chicken skewer that behaves more like one solid piece of chicken. Indonesian chicken satay are a street food so having the chicken stay together and not swirl and twirl while you are trying to eat them is better.
Heat your grill to medium-high heat and give it a once over with some oil on paper cloth using the grill brush to lightly oil the grill and prevent sticking.
Place the skewers on the grill and use the marinade to baste them. Let them cook for about 7 minutes and then turn them and give them another baste with the remaining marinade. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so or until the chicken is no longer pink in the centre and the internal temperature of the chicken has reach a temperature of 160º F.
Discard any left over marinade. When the chicken is cooked thoroughly remove from the grill and serve!
In the Meantime … Making the Peanut Sauce
Add the peanut butter, coconut milk, minced garlic, kecap manis, lime juice, brown sugar and crushed peppers or sambal oelek to a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
Serve the peanut sauce alongside the grilled chicken satay for dipping or brush it on top!
Can indonesian chicken satay be made ahead of time?
Hell yes! In fact, they can be made the night before and left to marinate in the fridge or even frozen for up to 3 months for a quick freezer meal recipe! I would leave the grilling though until the day you wish to eat because I find cooked chicken tends to dry out if left in the fridge for more than a day.
How do you freeze this indonesian chicken recipe?
You can freeze the chicken in the marinade by placing it in a resealable plastic bag or in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 months in the freezer. When you are ready make it let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Then mix it up again to make sure the marinade evenly coats the chicken again and grill!
Can these be made as appetizers?
Yes! They are a great appetizer idea. I recommend smaller skewers with less chicken on each so that your guests will have a smaller portion to nibble on.
If you can’t find kecap manis what can you use?
I get it it can be hard to find… it took me months to find the spot in my town that has it and when I found it the sky parted and angels… no just kidding. But boy was I excited!
Here is a recipe to make your own which I found on Indofoodstore.com.
What should you serve with this chicken satay recipe?
A side salad, rice or any of these recipes will go well:
- Asian Cucumber Salad – this is what I usually got with it while in Bali
- Healthy No-Mayo Coleslaw
- Butter Smothered Green Beans and Cashews
- Asian-Inspired Air-Fryer Cauliflower Wings
Indonesian Chicken Satay With Peanut Sauce
- Chopping Knife
- Large Bowl
- Small Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Mixing Spoon
- Resealable plastic bag or large container with a tight-fitting lid
Indonesian Chicken Satay
- 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast Sliced to 1" thick and 2" long pieces
- 1/2 cup kecap manis
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 8 large skewers or 16 small soaked in water
- 1/2 cup creamy unsweetened natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup coconut milk canned, mixed well
- 1/4 cup kecap manis
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp chili flakes or to taste
- In a large bowl add the sliced chicken, kecap manis and melted butter. Mix well to coat. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for about 30 minutes.
- Soak bamboo skewers in water while the chicken is marinating.
- While the chicken is marinating make the peanut sauce by adding to a small bowl the peanut butter, coconut milk, additional kecap manis, garlic, lime juice, brown sugar and chili flakes. Whisk until smooth and set aside.
- After the chicken has had time to marinate thread the chicken pieces tightly onto the skewers. Discard the water that the skewers were soaking in.
- Heat the barbecue or grill to medium-high heat and lightly grease the grill. Place the chicken satay skewers on the grill for about 10 minutes per side basting with the remaining marinade each time to coat. Continue to cook turning occasionally and basting until the chicken is cooked and no longer pink in the centre and the internal temperature reaches 160F.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and serve alongside the peanut sauce for dipping.