Cook's Illustrated

Malaysian Chicken Satay

Imagine the most flavorful bite of grilled chicken you’ve ever had: robustly seasoned, gorgeously charred, and crisp at the edges. That’s what you get with every bite of satay, one of the world’s proudest examples of meat on a stick and quintessential street-food fare all over Southeast Asia. The proteins and flavors vary from region to region, but the gist is more or less the same across the board: Small pieces of chicken, pork, beef, goat, or various types of seafood are coated in a flavorful liquid or paste; threaded onto skewers; and grilled hot and fast and very close to the coals so that almost every inch of their surfaces singes and picks up savory, smoky grill flavor. As soon as the food comes off the fire, it’s embellished with a condiment—often a potent dipping sauce—that ups its already strong appeal.

Whereas Thai satay tends to be relatively sweet and rich, the Malaysian version skews more herbal and savory.

Two of the most familiar versions of chicken satay are native to

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