A while back I tried to make Tien’s Malaysian Chicken Satay. I went on a mission to find whatever ingredients I could and came up short of the white pepper (which is OK because white pepper taste wise is the same as black pepper, just less appealing esthetically). I think that this may have been a bit of a doomed venture from the beginning. I just haven’t had much luck with cooking Thai or Malaysian food. Try as I might I could not make a dent in that galanghal, I grated with a Microplane, I threw it in the Cuisinart, I offered it money. Nothing doing. That mini tree stump would not budge. I waved my white flag in utter surrender and defeat. I moved on to the lemongrass. I found the smell enchanting, as I closed my eyes and whiffed away, almost forgetting that I had some chicken to take care of. Coming back to reality I realized that stalk was going to be hard to break. I tried to recall Ming Tsai’s advice on how to use it, but aside from the stalk being hard and you trying to peel it away, I couldn’t recall anything. I must have looked like some sort of Cro-Magnon nut bar trying desperately to hack away at that stalk. I then tried a mortar and pestle, again with the Cuisinart (I swear it must have been rolling it’s eyes at me by then), lastly I fruitless tried banging away with this rock, yup I was a freakshow. Additionally I realized that I had not properly refrigerated my soy sauce and it effectively had gone bad. All was not well in Whoville.
But I moved forward I used whatever ingredients I could salvage to make what resembled very little of Miss Tien’s Malaysian Chicken Satay. Twas a sad sad chicken indeed. It didn’t have any of the flavor I was looking for. Undaunted by the first attempt I sallied forth with pork the next day. I used the Thai Spice blend from World Market (which includes: sesame seeds, paprika, coriander, garlic, onion cilantro leaf, basil red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg natural shrimp flavor and lemon oil), threw in some extra garlic, some cumin, Lawry’s salt, black pepper and a little bit of salt. All of the spices were added to some ketchup, soy sauce and a bit of honey. I then broiled it, It was different, actually not so bad, but not quite right yet. So I persisted. I had a chicken breast and was going to make a salad to throw some chicken on top. I thought, let’s cook this bad boy Southeast Asian style. On the chicken I put a dash of Lawry’s Salt, a dash of sea salt, garlic powder, the Thai spice blend, cumin, soy sauce and a little bit of sesame oil (it was pretty well coated with the spice blend. I then put it in my little oven uncovered for about 20 minutes at 375 degree Fahrenheit. My chicken was moist and tasty, I think it would be OK to let the seasons marinate for a bit. I dished out some greens added some corn and black bean and put slices of the chicken on top along with my salad dressing.
I’ve done this a few times, various ingredients in the salad and various dressing. It’s super yummy. I guess the moral of the story is to keep trying and you’ll figure out your way through something. Odds are your outcome won’t be the same as someone else, but it can still be good and quite satisfying. Thanks Tien for the starting point.
**Oh and I would have put in a picture, but the salad always seems to be gone by the time I get the camera. 😀