Chicken satay with pressed rice (nasi impit)
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Chicken satay with pressed rice (nasi impit)

8 hours
to chill the rice
1 hour
to marinate the meat

Susan says

As much as I love searching out street food wherever I travel, there's something to be said for eating it at home. Creations from your kitchen may lack some of the flavour that the fumes from passing traffic give to street food, and there's none of the colour that the great outdoors adds, but home has air-conditioning and comfortable surroundings.

You can find satay in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The nasi impit - pressed rice - is an Indonesian addition, and it should be made several hours in advance (or overnight) because it needs time to cool.

The marinade and peanut sauce also go well with other types of meat, especially lamb and pork; choose tender cuts to substitute for the chicken.

For the Thai red curry paste, buy the Nam Jai brand, if it's available. Palm sugar usually comes in small discs or cones. It's very hard and needs to be chopped or scraped, or you can microwave it to melt it. Some shops sell it in granules, which is easier to use.

There's no substitute for galangal, a rhizome that looks similar to fresh ginger (it's often called Thai ginger), but which has a different flavour. Look for it in shops that specialise in Southeast Asian ingredients, where you can also buy the red curry paste and palm sugar. Galangal freezes well, so if you do get some, buy more than you need, then wrap it and store it in the freezer, for future dishes. If you can't find galangal, then use fresh peeled ginger, but know that the satay will taste very different. 

For the pressed rice
275g (9¾oz)
long-grain rice, preferably jasmine
fine sea salt
For the satay
800g (28oz)
boneless and skinless chicken thighs
lemongrass stalks, the juicy lower part only (about 8cm or 3⅜in)
10-15g (⅓-½oz)
fresh galangal (or ginger)
medium-sized shallots, peeled
garlic cloves, peeled
25g (⅞oz)
palm sugar (or 2tbsp granulated sugar)
ground turmeric
curry powder
300ml (1¼ cups)
coconut milk
fine sea salt
For the peanut sauce
whole coriander seeds
100g (3½oz)
10g (⅓oz)
Thai red curry paste
30g (1oz)
palm sugar (or 2tbsp and 1tsp granulated sugar)
5ml (1tsp)
cooking oil
160ml (⅔ cup and 2tsp)
coconut cream
To serve
Asian cucumbers
red onion

Weigh the rice in a bowl but leave the scale on - do not press the tare button. Rinse the rice several times, until the water is almost clear, then drain off most of the water. Place the bowl of rice back on the scale, then add more water so the total weight of rice and water is 605g (21oz). Stir in one teaspoon of salt then put the ingredients in a rice cooker and steam until done. While the rice is still very hot, mix it roughly, to break up the grains, but not so much that it turns into a paste. Very lightly oil a pan then line it as smoothly as possible with cling-film. Press the rice into the pan so that it is about 2.5cm (1in) deep. Lay a sheet of cling-film smoothly on top of the rice. Place another pan on the cling-film, weigh it down so that it compresses the rice, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


Finely chop the lemongrass, galangal, shallots and garlic. Pound the lemongrass and galangal in a mortar, then add the shallot and garlic and continue to pound until a rough paste is formed. Scrape the ingredients into a bowl and add the palm sugar, turmeric, curry powder, coconut milk, 5ml (1tsp) of cooking oil and one teaspoon of salt. Combine thoroughly, then taste; add more salt, if needed.


Cut the chicken into strips about 2.5cm (1in wide) and mix them with the marinade. Leave at room temperature for about an hour, stirring occasionally.


Soak wooden skewers in cold water (this prevents them from burning when you grill the satay).


Make the sauce. Roughly chop the peanuts. Put the coriander seeds, peanuts, curry paste and palm sugar in a mortar and pound to a paste. Heat 5ml (1tsp) of oil in a saucepan, add the coconut cream and bring to the boil. Add the peanut/curry paste mixture and stir well to combine. Bring to the boil then lower the heat. Simmer for about five minutes, until the mixture is thick and the oil floats to the surface.


Thread the chicken onto the soaked skewers. Lightly oil a grill pan or barbecue grill and lay the skewers on top. Cook the satay on high heat, until the chicken is cooked through and lightly charred at the edges, turning the skewers as needed.


Pour the sauce into a bowl. Slice the cucumber, cut the red onion into bite-size pieces and the nasi impit into two-bite-size pieces. Arrange the satay and pressed rice (nasi impit) on a plate, add the bowl of sauce and the cucumber and red onion, then serve.


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