This easy, weeknight-friendly chicken dinner is a bit of a cultural mash-up. Deliciously so.
I started by bathing hard-to-overcook chicken thighs in a robust satay-style sauce. The sauce delivers a sweet-tangy-savory-spicy blend of flavours thanks to ample amounts of brown sugar, cider vinegar, fish sauce and garlic chili paste. And tying it all together? Finely ground peanuts, which lend both a richness and a hearty texture to the sauce.
As a balance to all those big flavours, the cooked chicken gets dressed with diced tomatoes and avocado, a cooling and fresh contrast to the warm chicken. Finally, a hearty sprinkle of malt vinegar (the usual condiment for fish and chips). It has a tangy sweetness that pulls everything together.
As is, this is a great meal. But you could take it even further and serve the whole thing in a pita wrap. Or continue the cultural amalgamation by chopping the chicken and piling everything over nachos.
SPICY PEANUT CHICKEN SATAY
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup garlic-chili paste
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 3 strips
6 medium plum tomatoes, diced
3 avocados, pitted and diced
Malt vinegar, to serve
Place the peanuts in a food processor. Using the pulse button, grind them until very fine. Be careful not to overgrind; the peanuts should resemble breadcrumbs, not peanut butter. Transfer to a large bowl, then mix in the brown sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, garlic-chili paste, tomato paste and ginger. Add the chicken, stirring to coat well, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
When ready to cook, heat the grill to medium-high. Use an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs to oil the grill grates.
Thread the chicken onto skewers. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes first to prevent them from burning.
Grill the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes, turning once. To serve, pile several skewers per plate, then spoon diced tomatoes and avocado over them. Season with salt and malt vinegar.
Nutrition information per serving: 530 calories; 280 calories from fat (53 per cent of total calories); 31 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 41 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 23 g sugar; 29 g protein; 1630 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org