For quite some time this recipe was stuck in what the movie people call development hell.
The concept was simple enough – chicken pieces simmered in a nut butter and coconut milk based sauce, but the devil, as always, was in the detail, which is kind of ironic, seeing as 2 different spell checkers have suggested that I change “satay” to “Satan“.
The problem was that some recipes seemed overly simplistic, literally suggesting cooking a nut butter in coconut milk with a bit of chilli powder added, while others had more ingredients in them than Methuselah had candles on his birthday cake.
So, in essence, my objective was as authentic a taste as possible, but with a minimum of fuss, cobbled together with stuff I could be confident that I would actually be able to find.
And so, after a lot of drama, angst, hair pulling, scribbling in note-books, weeping, wailing, howling at the unforgiving moon, and long, coffee fuelled discussions with the cat, this is what I came up with.
Turned out quite nice, actually.
It also gifted me a large quantity of leftover satay sauce.
There is only one solution to such a surplus of nutty, creamy goodness. I’ll have to kick-start my “Luscious Leftovers” series, so keep an eye out for a batch of upcoming posts containing the words “…with a satay sauce dressing” in the title.
You read it here first.
Chicken In Satay Sauce
- 1kg skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
- 800ml coconut milk
- 4 tbsp of cashew nut butter
- 2 tsp tamarind concentrate
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 stalks of lemon grass, lightly bruised
- a 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 Jalapeño chilli, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- coconut oil
- Heat 4 tbsp of coconut oil in a non-stick lidded pan over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan. Stir fry until softened, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the ginger, chilli, and garlic. Stir fry until the garlic is golden brown, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Go easy on the salt – remember that the fish sauce is itself salty. Stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, and stir well. Add the lemon grass, fish sauce, cashew butter, coconut sugar, and tamarind concentrate to the sauce. Stir well. Bring the sauce up to a low simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken, and stir well to coat with the sauce. Return to a low simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, and adding a splash of hot water if required. The sauce doesn’t want to be overly runny, but still thin enough to allow the chicken to cook well.
- Towards the end of cooking, if you think that the sauce needs to thicken up somewhat, cook for the last 10 minutes without the lid on the pan. Check that the chicken is properly cooked – it should be white all the way through when cut in half.
- Once the chicken is cooked to your satisfaction, remove the pan from the heat. Serve, together with a side of cauliflower rice.
- To make the dish truly Paleo, get hold of fish sauce that contains only fish, water, and salt. You’re probably best looking in an Asian store for genuine Thai fish sauce. I currently use Thanh Ha Phu Quoc.
- You could of course use your own nut butter of choice in place of the cashew butter.