Coconut Curry Chicken Satay

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Satay (or sate) is basically your generally Southeast Asian grilled skewer or kabob, prepared in a variety of ways throughout the region, and often served with a dipping sauce on the side.

I pulled my influences from Thai and Vietnamese cuisines to come up with this version which includes a little coconut milk in the marinade, which can either help chicken breast meat retain moisture or soften the slightly stronger and gamier flavor of dark meat, depending on which you use.

One upside (among others) of using breast meat is that it cooks very quickly, and when you have lots of skewers to cook for a crowd.

If you're grilling on a gas grill, you just need to preheat your grill to a just under medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes prior to cooking. If you're grilling with coals, since you're dealing with smaller, thinner skewer cuts, you'll want to make sure to give your coals plenty of time for the flames to burn out and then a little time for the white heat to dissipate just a bit before you start cooking. You'll be able to tell when some of the coals have returned to something more like the original charcoal color.

And then there's always the hand test (assuming an even spread of the coals) in which you hold your hand an inch or two above the grill grates and judge the temp by how long you can hold it there before you have to pull it away. For the slightly less than medium heat you want for these satay skewers, 4 to 5 seconds should do it.

Coconut Curry Chicken Satay
Serves 8 to 10 (makes roughly 30 skewers - easily halved)
Time: About 20 minutes to prep and marinate, 2 to 8 hours to marinate, 20 to 30 minutes to skewer, 6 to 9 minutes to grill per batch for white meat, 11 to 14 for dark
Printable Version

Why the weird/odd numbers, Shinae??? Because I find people more apt than not to overcook proteins, specially on a grill, and the slightly lower than usually prescribed cooktimes are there to encourage you to dare to cook them just a little bit less than you usually do so you might discover how much better meat can taste when it's not THAT cooked. ;)

- 40 skewers soaked ideally overnight, but at least 6 hours or so

- 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat cut into roughly 1/3-inch thick, 1.5-inch wide strips
- 1 to 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- zest of 1 lime
- 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
- 1/2 Tablespoon curry powder

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken strips with the salt first and give them a good thorough mixing with your hands to ensure that the chicken is evenly seasoned with the salt. (I often find that when I'm working with wet or watery marinades, this step of minimally salting the protein first ensures that the meat takes up a little bit of salt flavor before the salt elements in the marinade can leach moisture, thereby diluting the flavoring of the meat.) Let that sit for about 5 minutes while add the other ingredients into the bowl.

2) Combine the rest of the marinade ingredients with the salted chicken and again, using your hands, massage the ingredients gently and thoroughly into the chicken, making sure that all the components are evenly distributed throughout the chicken.

3) Cover the chicken and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8. (What will happen if you marinate it longer? Well, it won't be terrible, but the longer proteins sit in a salty mixture, the more cured a texture they begin to take on. You can actually let this marinade go for 2 or 3 days before you cook the chicken, but I think up to 8 hours for chicken breast keeps optimal texture. Up to overnight for dark meat.)

4) Skewer the chicken in roughly 6-inch segments. This may take combining 2 or more pieces together. No biggie. Also, if you're planning to cook the chicken over coals right after you skewer, right before Step 4 would be a good time to light your coals.

5) Grill the skewers over slightly lower than medium heat. 3 to 4.5 minutes per side for breast meat, 5.5 to 7 minutes per side for dark meat.


Goes Great With: Joey's Favorite Crunchy Soy Slaw, Super Easylicious Peanut Sauce, Simple Jasmine Rice & Peas (without the peas is probably better for this particular dish), Spicy Cucumber Banchan

Repurposing Ideas: Tortilla Wraps with a little lettuce, mayo, and sriracha; over a garden salad with your favorite dressing; a kicked up banh mi...


  1. yum! coconut reminds me of south indian culture and i love india. the coconut curry chicken satay is worth a try and i have a strong feeling that i will like it.looking forward to more posts like this!


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