Malaysian Chicken Saté With Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin

Malaysian chicken saté
Malaysian chicken satéPeden + Munk

The complexity of flavors you find in Malaysian chicken saté are hard to replicate—and impossible to forget. Cubes of chicken are marinated in a fragrant combination of spices, including lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric, then grilled so the marinade forms a crust.



The skewers are the perfect way to shake up a cookout, especially at the end of summer when you’ve had your fill of ribeyes, brats, and burgers.

Enjoy this Malaysian chicken saté as an appetizer or serve up a hearty batch as the main course.

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Prep time

4 hours min.

Cook time

10 min min.

  • 12 shallots, sliced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced (bottom 1⁄3 of stalk only, 2–3 outer layers removed)
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1⁄4 cup neutral oil, such as canola
  • 11⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 11⁄2 tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 11⁄2 tbsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2.5 lb boneless chicken (breast or thigh) cut into 1-inch cubes
  • About 15 bamboo skewers
In a blender, combine shallots, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and half the oil and blend into paste.
In a dry pan over medium hear, lightly toast coriander, cumin, and fennel until fragrant. Remove spices and finely grind using a spice or coffee grinder.
In a large bowl, combine wet paste, dry spices, sugar, salt, remaining oil, and chicken and mix. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.
Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for 15 minutes. Slide 3 or 4 pieces of chicken onto each one, leaving half the length of the skewer empty.
Make a glaze by combining remaining marinade with 1 cup water in a small saucepan and bringing to boil for about 6 minutes.
Prepare grill for high heat and grill batches of skewers for about 8 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes. After 8 minutes, brush glaze onto both sides of each skewer, then grill for an additional 2 minutes on each side, until the glaze caramelizes into a golden crust.