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Chicken Satay

The cosmopolitan nature of British cookery is on display here again: thanks to the influences of the British Empire, the vibrant and exotic cozy right up against the provincial in an easy relationship, going a good long way towards banishing the notion of British food as boring and bland. These little chicken morsels, seasoned with turmeric and lemongrass, are a wonderfully flavorful vehicle for the crunchy satay sauce, which delivers just the right amount of heat to keep things lively. We like to serve Basmati Rice Pilaf or plain couscous alongside. To turn this recipe into an appetizer, cut the chicken pieces a little smaller, remove from the skewers after grilling, and serve them inside Gem Lettuce leaves with the satay sauce spooned on top.

Chicken Satay

For the chicken:

1 tsp. turmeric
1 small lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
2 tsp. caster sugar (superfine white)
2 tbs. vegetable oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

For the satay sauce:

¾-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. dried red chili flakes (or to taste)
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1/3 cup peanuts, toasted and finely chopped
2 tbs. tamarind paste*
2 tsp. light muscovado sugar**

Mix the turmeric, lemongrass, sugar, and oil in a shallow dish. Add the chicken and stir well. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for about 3 hours. Soak 8 bamboo skewers in water for 1 hour.

To make the satay sauce, mix the ginger, onion, garlic, and chili flakes with 2 tbs. of water. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the ginger mixture. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onion is golden. Add the peanuts and cook a further 5 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, mix the tamarind paste with 110 mls (scant 1/2 cup) of water, stirring until smooth. Add to the sauce along with the muscovado sugar and simmer until reduced by a third (we found this took no more than 5 minutes).

Thread the chicken onto the skewers and grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked through and slightly charred on the outside. Serve with the satay sauce.

* Tamarind Paste is a popular sweet, fruit-based ingredient used often in Indian and Thai cookery. If you are unable to find it, substitute pomegranate molasses, or equal parts lemon juice and brown sugar.

**Muscovado sugar has a higher molasses content than our dark brown sugar, but use that to substitute for the muscovado if you must.

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