If bourbon BBQ grilled chicken doesn't scream Fourth of July, then I don’t know what…
Easy, marinated, grilled chicken skewers bursting with flavor only to be enhanced by a creamy, light and flavorful peanut sauce. Chicken and peanut butter work so well together and become a totally crave-able appetizer. This Asian-inspired recipe is easy, quick and a perfect, flavorful protein-packed snack!
There is something about peanut butter and chicken that gets me oddly excited. The nuttiness of the peanuts and the vibrant marinade on chicken go so well together, it’s amazing to think that this is not joke and a really interesting match made in heaven. The first time I had peanut-style chicken was when I was at an Asian buffet and I think I went back six different times just to get more. It’s so good!
Then when I started learning more about food I realized this was a pretty common pairing of peanut sauce and meats. Satay in general, a Southern Asian dish, is generally known as skewered and grilled meat that gets dipped into a sauce, preferably a peanut sauce. It’s usually a must-order appetizer anytime I see it on a menu. Slightly sweet and savory and perfect for any occasion. I’ve even stopped ordering chicken satay with take out because this recipe does the trick! You can make it all the time.
Although I cannot say that this recipe is typically heavy or greasy, I did want to make this version of chicken satay easy, light and family friendly. In order to achieve that, I still needed to utilize ingredients that are in traditional satay but also wanted to find some that you can pull from the pantry on any given day. Doing all this while keeping it light on calories was easier than I thought. It’s one of my favorite post-workout snacks with all the protein, a little fat from the chicken and the seasoning that’s healthy and delicious!
Here are some key ingredients you may need to find on your next trip to the store…as well as the substitutes that you can use if you HAVE to make it today:
- Fish Sauce – Just one of those ingredients that you don’t want to think you need but actually does add a unique, exotic, yet, salty/umami flavor to a lot of Asian dishes.
- To substitute – Soy sauce or worcesterchire sauce are probably the most common substitutes that add the level of saltiness you need. Oyster sauce, seaweed or coconut aminos are also fine.
- Lemongrass – I feel like such an idiot to say that I’ve looked far and wide for this ingredient. Sadly enough, lemongrass paste is all you need and it’s in the produce section next to garlic and ginger paste (grab them all if you can). This is a great ingredient to have for soups and other Asian dishes that need a burst of freshness.
- To substitute – This might shock you but lemon and lime zest and juice work perfectly fine. You may also want to mellow the citrus out with some grated ginger but if you’re in a bind, this is probably the easiest way to make the flavors work with what you have.
- Curry/Cumin/Turmeric – along with Ginger and Garlic – If you don’t have these ingredients on hand at all times, I highly suggest adding some sort of variation of these ingredients to your pantry or fridge. In addition to them all being very healthy and healing, garlic, ginger and cumin are used in so many international dishes that it’s important to keep them around. As far as curry and turmeric, they’re not always everyone’s favorite but they can certainly boost a meal or a simple recipe with just a little bit.
- To substitute – I find it hard to substitute any of these ingredients. You can certainly leave something out or add more or less of it if you choose. It will change the overall flavor of the recipe, as well as the color. If you only have paste, powder or raw forms of any of these ingredients, they should all work. You just need to be aware of the amounts and potency of each one.
- Coconut Milk – Really great for thickening sauces, adding a dairy free creaminess to a dish or in this case, marinating! The reason I like marinating meats in some sort of “cream” is it helps tenderize and moisten the meat. For me personally, one of the main reasons I like this method is it helps all the seasoning and flavor evenly coat the chicken while doing all the other magical things like making it juicy and tender. I don’t usually keep coconut milk on hand often only because I don’t make a ton of recipes with it. So, guess what? I use Greek yogurt. Seeing that it’s one of my favorite ingredients in general, I always have it on hand and it works just fine!
- To substitute – Yogurt or buttermilk. If none of those are an option, add just a little oil and that’ll be good!
Now here’s the kicker. For the sauce, it’s easy…peanut butter and soy sauce and few other ingredients and you’re set. In this recipe, I really went a lot lighter with the ingredients solely because the sauce is insanely delicious and I needed more of it! So instead of eating a ton of full fat peanut butter, I used a peanut butter powder instead. This gave me control over the consistency of the sauce and there is absolutely no guilt! There’s so much less fat and still a boost in protein. I know a lot of people have regular, generic peanut butter on hand, and that’s fine. This is just another ingredient I have on hand because I love peanut butter but not all the added fat and calories.
This recipe can be an appetizer or the protein-portion of your dinner. I ate these for dinner because I couldn’t get enough of them so it became a whole meal. They go great on top of salads, in pitas or paired with cucumbers and dip! I assure you, as your kids give you the side eye when you serve them peanut butter sauce with chicken, I can almost promise they’ll be begging for more.
Chicken Satay & Light Peanut Sauce
For the Chicken:
- 3-4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cubed
- ½ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
- 2 tablespoons garlic paste/crushed
- 2 tablespoons ginger paste/grated
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon curry powder/paste
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- salt & pepper to taste
- cilantro (garnish, optional)
- lime wedges (garnish, optional)
- crushed peanuts (garnish, optional)
- sesame seeds (garnish, optional)
For the sauce:
- ½ cup peanut butter powder
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup soy sauce low sodium
- 1 tablespoon sriracha/chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste/crushed
- ½ teaspoon sugar substitute (or 3 tablespoons brown sugar)
For the chicken:
- Soak the bamboo skewers for at least 3-4 hours.
- Mix the yogurt, fish sauce, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, curry, salt and pepper in a large shallow mixing bowl.
- Cut the chicken into even cubes about 1”x 1” and then add to the marinade. Cover and set in the fridge for 2-12 hours.
- Skewer the chicken evenly onto each skewer. This should equal about 4-6 pieces per skewer and make about 12 skewers.
- Allow to sit outside of the fridge until the grill has preheated at medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste right before adding to the grill.
- Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes and then turn. Turn every 4 minutes and cook for about 12-16 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°.
- Pull off the grill and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
For the peanut dipping sauce:
- This can be made a few hours in advance or right after the chicken cooks.
- Whisk together peanut butter powder, water, soy sauce, sriracha/chili sauce, garlic and sugar substitute until smooth.
- Top with chopped cilantro, crushed peanuts and seame seeds. Serve with lime wedges.