Sarah Tiong was a lawyer before she applied to compete on "MasterChef Australia" in 2017. She didn't win the show, but her passion for Malaysian street food won over fans and led to an entirely new career as a recipe developer, event organizer and now cookbook author.
Her debut book, "Sweet, Savory, Spicy: Exciting Street Market Food from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and More" is the perfect introduction to the flavors, smells and tastes of the night markets of Southeast Asia. As the title suggests, many of these dishes combine the holy trinity of flavor layers, where sweet and spicy ingredients elevate rich, savory dishes into another realm.
It's still grilling season in much of the country, and these curried chicken thighs cook perfectly on a skewer over a charcoal fire, but this is also a dish you could make ahead of time and take camping or bake in a 425-degree oven. You could also substitute firm tofu but use the same spices and cooking technique.
To make the Malaysian-style peanut sauce, Tiong toasts a cup of ground peanuts in a dry pan and then adds a tablespoon each of curry powder, tamarind paste and brown sugar, along with 1/2 cup of water. She cooks the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often until it reaches the desired consistency.
Malaysian Chicken Satay
Satay - specifically, Malaysian chicken satay - punctuates most of the happy family barbecues in my life. The juicy chicken pieces, which are covered in the warmth of curry spices and a hint of sweetness and then paired with a creamy peanut sauce, hold a special place in my heart. There is nothing greater than seeing the family gather around the barbecue as they flip skewers of satay, sip an icy beverage and have a good time. The marinade in this recipe works brilliantly with beef and pork too.
- Sarah Tiong
• 3 tablespoons curry powder
• 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 1 large onion, minced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• Pinch of salt
• 3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
• 6 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
• Creamy peanut sauce or store-bought peanut sauce
• Thickly sliced cucumber
• Thinly sliced red onion
Soak 22 to 24 thin bamboo skewers in warm water for 30 minutes.
To make the chicken satay, mix together the curry powder, turmeric, brown sugar, onion, garlic, salt and oil in a large bowl. Add the chicken thigh pieces to the marinade and combine thoroughly. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour (or preferably overnight in the refrigerator).
Heat the grill to medium-high heat, around 400 to 450 degrees. Thread 3 to 5 pieces of chicken onto each skewer, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. The chicken should cover only the top third of the skewers.
Grill the skewers for 2 to 3 minutes per side, then move the skewers to medium heat and cook the skewers for a further 2 to 3 minutes per side, until the chicken is opaque all the way through when cut open.
Serve the satay skewers with the Creamy Malaysian Peanut Sauce, cucumber and red onion. Makes 22 to 24 skewers.
- From "Sweet, Savory, Spicy: Exciting Street Market Food from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and More" by Sarah Tiong (Page Street Publishing, $25)