In the last few years I have been so fortunate to have visited Indonesia twice. The country is filled with incredible spices (ie:nutmeg, cinnamon, cacao) and other agriculture such as coffee and rice. While on my honeymoon, my husband Ben and I did a farm trek in the central mountains. We learned so much about how generations of farmers use grafting to yield easier harvesting practices and how they carve out families' plots on shared farmland. It is truly inspiring!
The food there is fantastic. I will never forget the coconut chocolate ice cream made from from the nut and bean on the eco-farm we stayed at. Many fresh spices and herbs are used to provide each vegetable, dessert, and protein with layers of flavor. Think heat from chilies and garlic, color from turmeric and chocolate, and sweetness from fruit like starfish and coconut. So much grows there it is truly awesome!
I was inspired by Indonesian flavors to come up with a simple marinade and dipping sauce to turn chicken into a Southeast Asian experience. Try out a new adventure with this recipe!
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
2 Organic chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 inch piece ginger or galangal
4 cloves garlic
1 inch piece turmeric (or 1 TSP dried)
1 lemongrass stalk
3 persian or japanese cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
Fresh cilantro and/or fresh mint
2 TB vegetable oil, plus extra for the vermincelli noodles
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB fish sauce
4 Cup water
½ Cup Unsalted peanuts
Rough chop the garlic, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, and jalapeno. For the lemongrass, remove the tough outer layer and use only the bottom ⅓ of the stalk. If you have a mortar and pestle, put half those ingredients inside and pound into a smooth paste. If not, you can chop by hand or add the ingredients to a blender or food processor. Add to a pyrex or ziplock bag. Cube the chicken if you plan to layer onto skewers or slice the chicken breast lengthwise in half and add to the marinade. Refrigerate 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Toast the peanuts in a saute pan or in a 400F until fragrant and they release their oils. You can also buy already roasted peanuts to alleviate this step! Place the peanuts, water, soy sauce, fish sauce, and remaining fresh spices into the same blender or food processor if you used one. Blend for several minutes until creamy and smooth. Taste at this point and check to salt, add pinch by pinch until it suits your taste. At this point, increase the heat level by adding more chopped chili or chili oil. Set the peanut sauce aside in a dish with saran wrap until ready to serve.
Light a charcoal or wood burning grill, once scorching hot, grill the chicken on each side 5 minutes until it’s a bit charred. It should smell very fragrant. Heat a kettle and follow the instructions for the noodles exactly. Toss in a tablespoon or two of canola or sesame oil. On the same platter, add your peanut sauce.
Slice or cut your cucumbers into large bite-sized chunks and add to the platter. Top with freshly picked cilantro and mint. For the last piece, add your skewers or slices of chicken breasts on top of the noodles. Serve hot. This dish is killer with some ice cold beers!