REAL Chicken Satay. Seriously.

bon appetit

My love of the American Cookery magazine Bon Appétit started in Seoul, South Korea, where we lived for four years. The extensive school library there stocked this wonderful magazine and its sister magazine “Gourmet” (a posher version that has since been sadly scrapped) and I devoured it each month. I read through back issues and dreamed of being back in supermarkets where you could get exotic ingredients like cheddar cheese (I kid you not – we used to buy this on the black market, it has improved greatly, for sad expats, I am told in recent years). My sister Vanessa then got me a subscription for Christmas to Bon Appétit and the rest is, well, large piles of 14 years worth of Bon Appétit all over my house.

I will come back to the magazine in future posts but one column I love each week is RSVP, where readers can ask Bon Appétit to approach a restaurant to share a particular dish with them and the readers. I love reading the little ‘story’ before each recipe. And this is where I found the most amazing tasty Chicken Satay Recipe, via The Flame Tree restaurant in Rarontunga, the Cook Islands back in October 2004.


This is the little ‘story’ that appeared before the recipe:

“My fiancé and I just got back from a vacation to Rarontunga, the Cook Islands. Early in our stay we discovered THE FLAME TREE RESTAURANT. We loved the food so much that we returned several times that week. My favourite dish of the week was the chicken satay, which I would like to make in my own kitchen” Susan Scott, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Well, I would like to thank Susan Scott, who will never know, for going to the bother of requesting this recipe – it is THE BEST Satay I have ever tasted. I have made Satays with short cuts using Peanut butter but you will never make another Satay after trying this. It does have quite a lot of ingredients but don’t skip any – each ingredient brings something needed to make it taste as it does. A favourite in this house for Christmas Eve buffet & parties or serve as a starter as I did for Mary Roses birthday dinner.


1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup roasted salted peanuts (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup water                                                                                                                                                  

1 finely chopped onion
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs (packed) dark brown sugar
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)

Place all these ingredients in a blender and blitz until almost smooth.

satay prep

Place the sauce in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Reheat when ready to serve the chicken.

1/2 cup (the rest of the) canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices / strips

Place all the chicken ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably longer.

satay marinade

The recipe from the Cook Islands now has you putting all this chicken on  dampened Bamboo Skewers and BBQing which I have done but find it much easier to simply tip the chicken onto a baking tray and cook at 180C for 25 minutes (I drain off any watery liquid half way through cooking and flip the chicken with a spatula)

Serve with the Satay Sauce. Seriously good.

photo 1


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