Coconut marinated Thai chicken skewers — or satay as they are called in Thailand — is a typical street food that shouldn’t be missed. Visit any market or side street, and you’ll see hundreds of skewers charring as they turn over glowing coals. Grab a few and savor the charred meat with a cold beer.
How can you go wrong?
How to make Thai chicken skewers?
If you can’t visit the streets of Bangkok, these coconut marinated Thai chicken skewers may be the next best thing.
Thai chicken skewers are complex in flavor but super easy to make. Juicy chicken thigh meat is marinated in sweetened, spiced coconut milk, grilled, and then served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce made of shallots and chilies. They can be prepped in advance and are loaded with seasonal veggies for an easy summer BBQ.
First, combine the marinade ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and the coconut milk turns slightly orange and smells sweet of turmeric and galangal.
Next, nest chunks of chicken thighs in a spiced coconut bath to marinate in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 hours (or even up to 24 hours!). I prefer chicken thighs for their flavor but feel free to use chicken breast.
Then, thread the chicken on wooden skewers alternating pieces of meat with veggies and grill until lightly charred.
Serve these coconut marinated Thai chicken skewers with a sweet and sour dipping sauce made of chiles and shallots whizzed up in the blender.
A note on Thai ingredients.
If you’ve read this far, you may be scratching your head and saying to yourself, “what the f are Thai long chiles, and why can’t I just use ginger instead of galangal?”
Don’t worry, just do your best to find the ingredients. If you can’t, these chicken skewers will be just as delicious. In any case, I’ve noted a few substitutions to help.
Grilled Thai Coconut Marinated Chicken Satay with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
For the Coconut Marinade
- 2 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 1/2" pieces
- 1 tbsp coriander seed
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 3 tbsp peanuts unsalted
- ½ cup coconut milk unsweetened
- 6 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp Thai whiskey or bourbon
- 1 piece fresh turmeric (or 1 tbsp ground) peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 piece galangal (or ginger) peeled, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks lemongrass tough outer leavers removed, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup shallots
Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce
- 4 long red chilies (Thai, jalapeno, fresno, serrano) deseeded
- 1/2 cup shallots chopped
- 1 cup white vinegar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
For the Skewers
- 1 lb shiitaki mushrooms washed and stems removed
- 2 medium red onions cut into 1 1/2" (4 cm) pieces
- 2 small zucchini cut into 1/4" coins
- 4 whole limes quartered
- vegetable oil for grilling
Make the marinade
In a large bowl, add the chicken.
Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender or small food processor, add the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Pour pour the marinade over the chicken and massage into the chicken using your hands. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the chicken to marinate for 3 to 5 hours.
Make the dipping sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor and blend until a coarse paste forms. Bring to a boil in a 1-quart sauce pan over medium heat and reduce for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Make the skewers
Toss the vegetables with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Skewer the chicken and vegetables. Add a wedge or two of lime to each. Discard any extra marinade.
Serve the skewers with the dipping sauce.