I first threw the ingredients together many years ago after a friend and I shared a peanut chicken appetizer at some after work watering hole type restaurant. You could tell it was made primarily from nothing more than Skippy peanut butter and soy sauce and while it was certainly edible (and rather ordinary - think Claim Jumper) I knew the basic idea deserved better so I set out to upgrade the dish to main course status. I scored a home run on my first effort serving it to my family, grateful I had actually written down the ingredients as their balance turned out to be quite critical. I shared the recipe with those at the table and they have all many times since throughout the years served it back to me as if I had nothing to do with it. Sometimes with a wink and sometimes with willful forgetfulness. My brother now refers to it as his "famous peanut chicken" with barely a discernible wink. My mother eventually tagged it as "Indonesian" for some of her guests -- although I'm not sure what about it pegs it specifically to those islands.
I have alluded to this familial recipe appropriation phenomenon in before in previous posts. After sharing a particularly good dinner party recipes with family they rapidly serve to just about everyone we know --including me -- before I ever get a chance to get my full play out of it among our common shared dinner party targets. Its really all in good fun of course because I really do enjoy finding something they like that much. This is the one that started it all but due to its overplay many years ago I had stopped making it. When I saw the half used jar of peanut butter in our refrigerator during 'clean out the fridge dinner party' week I realized I had yet ti maj this for my in-laws. Needing a guaranteed to impress dish as I did -- the dish had to be returned to my repertoire -- at least temporarily.
Some advice to those who want to see what the fuss is about and will actually make this...and I think you all should... Before marinating the chicken, reserve half of it to use as a dipping sauce. I always put out some bread for this purpose but you will soon see that the sauce shares the addictive qualities of heroin. Your guests will be drenching not only the chicken (which doesn't even need the help of the sauce having marinated in it for 8-12 hours) with it but also any veggies or rice you serve along with it. Your dinner party is guaranteed to become a peanut sauce orgy. Bread will only be used for scraping the last remnants of sauce from the serving bowl and plate. I cut some green onions in half to thread on each end of the skewer. The resulting display adds wow factor before the grilling begins and guests see what is for dinner. These usually cook right off the skewer so I also throw some whole ones onto the grill to serve along side for color.
Indonesian Peanut Chicken
- 1/2 cup all natural chunky peanut butter (I use Laura Scudders All Natural Chunky)
- 1/2 cup peanut oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 8 cilantro springs, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger