Skip the boring chicken breasts and try this Satay Chicken recipe. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Main course or appetizer? Satay chicken could be either. Strips of chicken breast are threaded on skewers after a generous soak in sesame oil, sherry, soy sauce and lemon juice with garlic and ginger, then baked for all of 10 minutes and served with a savory sauce of peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, ketchup and more.

Delicious no matter when you eat it.

I bumped into this at an anniversary party where heavy hors d’oeuvres was the menu, and these thin strips of chicken tender enough to nibble off the skewers made a lasting impression on me. I found a recipe for them and made them recently for supper. With rice and a salad alongside, we slid the chicken off the skewers onto our plates and ate them slathered with peanut sauce.

Satay chicken is a good use for boneless, skinless chicken breasts which sadly, too often otherwise turn out tough and dry. If the weather were warmer, I might have fired up the grill to cook them outside, but this time I used the oven. The recipe requires some fussing. Slice the chicken breasts and assemble the marinade; soak the strips in it, then while they are marinating, make the peanut sauce and prepare the other things you plan to serve. After that, skewering the strips and baking them is a matter of minutes.

One possible short cut is to make your marinade from a half cup of your favorite vinaigrette dressing to which you add a quarter cup of soy sauce or tamari, plus a little sherry or rice vinegar, and if you like, a couple of cloves of garlic, minced. Save your energy for the peanut sauce which packs a lot of flavor.

If you are a fan of hot and spicy, consider adding red pepper flakes, or a dash of cayenne to the peanut sauce, or a little Thai-style red curry sauce to zip it up a little.

A note on quantities. I used two chicken breasts. Each of them weighed about a pound. I trimmed off the skinny ends and little stray bits to save for stir fry. I figured there was enough for four servings but one person in our household was ferociously hungry so ultimately there were three servings.

Actually, maybe it would have served four if it weren’t so darn delicious.

P.S. I have a biggish package of dates languishing in my pantry. I’m not that fond of dates, truth be told, but I might enjoy a good date bar, maybe one made with oatmeal. I’ll bet one of you has a good recipe for date bars and would be willing to share it with me at

Satay Chicken

Serves 4


2 chicken breasts

1/4 cup sesame oil or plain vegetable oil

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari

Juice of half a lemon

2 cloves garlic minced

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

Peanut Sauce

1 small red onion, finely minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon sesame or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 tablespoons ketchup

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

Cut the chicken into half-inch thick strips.

In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, stir together the oil, sherry, tamari, lemon juice, garlic and ginger.

Add the chicken strips and stir them enough to coat them with the marinade. Let marinate for 1 hour minimum.

Heat the oil for the sauce in a sauté pan and add the onion and garlic, cooking until they are soft and fragrant.

Add the sugar and vinegar and heat until the sugar dissolves.

Stir in the peanut butter, ketchup and soy sauce to make a semi-thick sauce, adding a little water if necessary to make it spreadable. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Run a skewer through each strip of chicken and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is completely done.

Serve with each skewer full of chicken generously spread with peanut sauce.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...