Chicken satay is one of the most famous dishes in Indonesian restaurants. The skewered grilled chicken pieces dipped on savoury peanut and honey sauce just makes your mouth water, and you just won’t be able to resist its charm. Sure, there are other satay variants in other countries, such as Malaysia, but Indonesia’s version is just one of a kind.
But what is the secret to a totally delicious serving of chicken satay? If you are a big fan of Indonesian food in Singapore, then for sure you already have your criteria. However, if you are still in the getting to know stage when it comes to the said dish, then here are some tips to watch out for:
- It all begins with fresh chicken.
Many people think that satay rests heavily on the sauce, which is savoury in its own right, but the real way to judge if the dish is good or not is on how the chicken was prepared. So yes, when looking for the perfect satay, begin with the chicken meat.
Of course, the meat should be fresh and not taken out of the freezer. This is because frozen chicken meat has the tendency to lose its natural flavour to the ice and water as it defrosts. When preparing the meat, better settle with freshly dressed chicken, which is often available early in the market.
- Check the marinade.
Aside from fresh chicken meat, another factor to great tasting satay is the marinade. The marinade is what boosts the chicken’s flavour, and you shouldn’t miss out on it. The ingredients for the marinade are fairly simple-crushed garlic, chopped chilli peppers, soy sauce, coconut oil, and a little bit of honey in case you want your chicken to be a little sweeter.
Marinating the chicken is the key to an awesome satay, although it takes a lot of patience to pull it through. If you happen to have found a great satay, it means that the meat was marinated for several hours to even a day before it was actually cooked.
Most restaurants prepare their chicken marinade at least one day before cooking the meat, although there are also others that only take 3-4 hour hours of soaking time.
- Grilled to perfection.
Chicken satay is grilled, not roasted, not fried, not baked. Yes, cooking the dish is similar to barbecue, but under perfectly heated embers at a careful cooking time. This is because when the chicken is overly grilled, it becomes dry and loses its flavour. On the other hand, when it is undercooked, the chicken meat will remain raw and inedible, not to mention put you at risk to salmonella infection.
- The sauce.
Lastly, when looking for the perfect chicken satay, you should taste the sauce that comes with it. Satay sauce is very unique in the sense that it blends in a diverse array of flavours. You are able to taste a tinge of coconut, chilli peppers, peanuts, and honey all in one dip.
When examining the satay sauce, here are the factors to look at: first, the sauce should be thick in terms of consistency, as this where the flavours are found. Second, the flavours should complement each other, and not overpower one another. A lot of satay sauces fall out of the competition when either the coconut or the peanut paste overpowers the other, as then the sauce would taste too tangy or too chalky for the meat.
It would be worth taking to do a taste test in various restaurants that feature Indonesian food in Singapore; doing this will lead you to the most scrumptious satay in the country, with you serving as a firsthand witness to it.