I travelled to Bali in June last year. An old friend lives there now and paying a visit didn't take much convincing. It was a relaxing two-week trip and the vacation mode made for plenty of feasting. After all, I'm a chef - a holiday diet is nothing but a missed opportunity.

I have to say all the food in Bali is pretty amazing, but what sticks out the most in my mind would have to be the chicken satay.

I can't tell you how many times I ate this in the two weeks I was there. As it's considered street food in Bali, you can find little stalls on the side of the road selling skewers nearly everywhere you go. Of course, I had to taste them all.

I put all that research to good use, developing the most delicious version with a tasty peanut sauce. It's become a go-to dish I make at home all the time.


• Emanuele is head chef at Jervois Steak House, Auckland.

Balinese chicken satay skewers

For the satay skewers:

500g chicken thighs, skinned and deboned
3 shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
3cm ginger, peeled and grated
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and white part finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dark brown sugar
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
4 Tbsp peanut oil


1. Slice the chicken into thin strips and set to one side.

2. Grind together the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric and the remaining spices in a food processor or a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, sugar and pepper. Add the fish sauce and chilli and combine.

3. Mix the paste with the peanut oil and add to the chicken, tossing to coat well.

4. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours and ideally overnight, allowing all the flavours to develop


5. Soak 16 bamboo skewers approximately 15cm long in warm water half an hour before cooking to prevent them scorching.

6. Thread the marinated chicken onto the skewers until they are three-quarters full.

7. Brush the griddle pan with oil and allow it to get very hot before adding the skewers.

8. Grill the chicken until it has cooked through and has begun to pick up a few crispy brown/black spots, basting with oil as you go and turning frequently (about 5–7 minutes).

For the peanut sauce:

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
1 red chilli, chopped and deseeded if preferred
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 Tbsp crushed ginger
4 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp soy sauce
100ml coconut cream
50ml water


1. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil followed by the shallot, chilli, garlic and ginger. Sauté for 2–3 minutes until the shallots are softened and the oil begins to take on the red colour of the chilli.

2. Add the peanut butter and stir until it melts.

3. Add the tamarind paste and dark soy sauce and stir well.

4. Pour the coconut cream and water into the saucepan and stir for 3–4 minutes, until the peanut butter has been incorporated into the satay sauce.

5. Simmer the mixture on a low heat for 1–2 minutes. Serve warm with the chicken skewers.