Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daring Cooks - January - Satay Chicken

"The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day."

Words that should inspire me. Instead, they filled me with one of the most regretful sentiments, nostalgia.

Last year, the Workaholic and I found ourselves in the night market of Kuala Lumpur. It was an adventure that was slightly outside of our comfort zone, if only because we both had fears of eating undercooked anything and spending a day not able to leave the hotel. After scouring the street hawkers, we decided to nibble on small things, and the first thing we had were satay skewers. I've never been a huge fan of satay anything in the past, but they were there, they were small, they were non-committal. We ordered our skewers, the man told us how much it was while holding the meat-covered wooden sticks in the fire and just as we completed the financial part of the transaction, we got our meat. Were we afraid that this was undercooked & going to force us to make use of our international health insurance? Yes. We tenatatively bit in, dipping the meat in the little plastic bag of sauce that came with it. We were delighted. They were fantastic, succulent flavourful pieces of meat that, most importantly, dissolved all fear of hawker food. I fell in love with the food, the scenery and would so love to go back. I think the Workaholic would like to as well.

The satay skewers I made were 1) doomed to never be the satay skewers of my memories, 2) not grilled because my grill is covered in snow, and 3) not on skewers. I don't really think that the skewers made much of a difference, as the idea is to tenderize the meat through the marinade, and the meat was juicy and tender. They just weren't the same spices. This should come as no surprise, the recipe was a British interpretation of Thai, not potentially frightening Malaysian flavour that I had in mind.

The Workaholic bit into his dinner and asked, "Shouldn't they be spicier?" I had to agree. I followed Cuppy's recipe but it just didn't work out for us. The peanut sauce, on the other hand, was fantastic. The Workaholic found it to be too sweet (we don't eat any sugar any more) but I have been eating spoonfuls of leftover sauce out of the fridge (don't pretend as if you never do that!).

We may try other recipes for satay skewers that actually involve me going out to the grill and getting the burn marks I should. I might add fish sauce and chilis. Whatever I do, I'm waiting until the snow melts.


The Cooking Ninja said...

Coming from S'pore, I had to restraint myself from changing the recipe and eat them with an open mind. LOL! It worked though - the satay itself wasn't really fantastic but when dipped with the peanut sauce I made, it was good. :) It's hard not to compare this version to the real satay version we had.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Yeah the recipe didn't so much work for us either. Only thing I was pleased about is how it reminded me what a create technique marinading is for tough cuts of meat... Sorry you were disappointed too...

Merrilee said...

We went to Malaysia (on the east side though) in 2002. We also had food from a street hawker. I had a noodle dish. I did not have the delightful experience that you did. I am glad you were able to enjoy the food. (We did go to other places where we had fantastic food.)
I agree that the satay wasn't very spicy, it worked for us as we have young kids. I loved the peanut sauce though too! I want to make swimming rama with it now. Happy cooking.

Audax said...

Yes I've been to Kuala Lumpur and I loved the food and your satay looks very yummy and your are right this is a UK version of Thai food so is good for a gentle introduction to this complex food. But any way it has got your juice running to do somemore grilling. Well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Dodol & Mochi said...

Hello, stumbled upon your blog! Glad to find another Malaysian here!!

Yea ... gotta agree. We're so used to our satay that ... these "Westernized" versions of Asian classics seem "tamed" to us, huh?

Great job! Keep it up!


Hungry Gal said...

I love satay! But it is definitely hard to reproduce it at home...

Your picture of the night market in KL reminded me of my experience of backpacking around SE Asia. I wandered through a night market and found myself hopelessly lost - alone and in the dark... I eventually made it back to the hostel.

Nice blog!

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