I spent several hours today filming one of my next videos, which will be on Malaysian chicken satay. These delicious grilled skewers, which originated in Indonesia, have a Malaysian spin and are quite ubiquitous everywhere in Malaysia. Malaysian Airlines even serves it as their signature dish in their premium cabin flights.
At first glance, the recipes for the satay marinade and the peanut sauce do not look that daunting. It’s not until you decide to prepare the dish the traditional way using a mortar and pestle for both the marinade and the peanut sauce that it becomes a bit of a grueling workout. If I wanted to take a shortcut, I could have expedited the process and used a food processor, but what fun would have been had in that?
The laborious nature of this dish doesn’t even take into consideration the lengths I had to go in order to find all the ingredients. Ingredients I don’t use very often but are necessary for this to to remain “authentic” include galangal, which I could only find at 3 Aunties Market in Woodside frozen in slices, and lemongrass, which 3 Aunties was out of stock of. One of the workers was really apologetic when she told me; she said her supplier had run out, and she wasn’t sure when they could get more of it. “It’s scarce and very expensive now!” she exclaimed with a sad face. I ended up attempting to go to three other Asian markets before I could finally find it, and it ended up being around $2.50 for 4 stalks. That’s kind of expensive when you find out that you can technically only use the last 3 inches of each stalk for cooking; the rest of this really long stalk is so woody and fibrous, not to mention it has less fragrance. It got even worse when I went to a fourth Chinese market, which was selling 4 stalks for $5!!
We’re letting the chicken marinade overnight, and then I’ll be cooking it tomorrow along with the peanut sauce. I hope this is all worth it.