After spending a few weeks in the polar vortex, my family and I returned to the Bay Area in mid-January to discover that summer has come early this year. Really early. Dire drought emergency and looming water rationing aside, I did what any self-respecting Californian would do: I quickly hid my East Coast winter parka and fleece leggings in the basement, donned short sleeves and sunglasses, and pulled out the barbecue. To be honest, I felt a little giddy as I plucked a handful of ripe, red cherry tomatoes off a bush and popped one between my teeth, the sweet taste of summer filling my mouth. It was high time for Thai chicken satay.
I’ve spent years trying to recreate the flavors I fell in love with on the streets of Bangkok. With the help of my Thai ex-patriot friend, who also happens to be an excellent cook, I have finally come close with this easy recipe for the classic Thai street food specialty, chicken satay. The marinade for these simple grilled chicken skewers includes signature Thai ingredients like lemongrass, turmeric (ideally fresh, but dried is fine, too), fresh galangal (you can substitute fresh ginger), chilies, and fish sauce. Palm sugar assures authentic Southeast Asian flavor, but dark brown cane sugar is a fine substitute. The end result is pure heaven on a stick.