Chicken Satay In Peanut Butter Sauce by Chef Sarah Atieno, H&S Chef Of The Month
H&S Chef Of The Month
Chef Sarah Atieno
Interview With H&S Magazine
Who Is Sarah Atieno?
I am a stay at home twenty-six-year-old mother to one, an operations assistant, writer, and chef. There aren’t many words to describe me but a passionate foodie, who walks and speaks the language of food does it.
Type Of Cuisine?
I’d say this is difficult for me as I love a touch of everything, but If I was made to choose I’d say continental with a twist of African. I am all over the place when it comes to food, I love the amazingly different flavours, textures and traditional methods of preparing meals, so choosing a speciality for me, is one difficult task.
What Inspired You To Become A Chef?
Growing up as a first child, I was tasked with the responsibility of helping my mother around, more especially in the kitchen. When she made chapatis, I’d be adding oil to the pan and flipping them to the other side; you should have seen the joy on my face when everyone appreciated the crispiness and taste; the satisfaction that came from what cooked was unexplainable.
Years later, I’d cook chapatis and sell them to my lectures at Kenyatta University, more especially to one Dr. Alice Ondigi, who would pay me handsomely to make them in bulk. The fact that I loved great food but could not sometimes afford it during my days in campus, pushed me into trying to replicate the same at home, and that’s how I found myself with the title chef.
What Is The Biggest Challenge You Have Faced In The Culinary Industry?
My biggest challenge so far has been getting my hands on quality ingredients. One quality ingredient in a meal can be a big game changer, some are not locally available either. I’ve had to import pure vanilla pods to make my own vanilla extract, getting quality raw ingredients has proven to be a challenge for me. I try to shop for spices and any ingredient I may need back home when I travel to countries/places that have them in plenty.
What’s Your Biggest Achievement In The Culinary Industry?
My biggest achievement in the culinary industry, is when I went solo in the beginning of this year to become a private chef. I currently run my business Sa’Gene for Foods, a cloud kitchen offering state-of-the-art meals and desserts that cover a wide range of clientele’s needs. The versatility of running my business has helped me achieve a long term dream of mine, which is to be there for my daughter when she wakes up, leaves and comes back from school. I am now able to spend some quality time with her, unlike before when I’d leave way too early and come home late when she was already asleep. It gives me immense joy and pride watching my six-year-old daughter take interest in what I do, she’s become my little marketer
especially at her school, where I now bake pastries for students’ birthdays and school functions held.
When It comes To Cooking, What Is More Important To You, The Technique, The Ingredients Or The Creativity?
A great meal is a combination of the three, some ingredients can not be compromised if a desired flavour and texture is to be acquired, this brings in the technique factor then creativity. So for me, it is the perfect balance of all three to achieve the target results.
Recipe Of The Week: Chicken Satay In Peanut Butter Sauce
The Marinated Chicken Satay
• 800g boneless chicken breast (cut into desired pieces with skin removed)
• 1tsp of smoked paprika
• 1tsp salt
• 1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
• 2 tsp Greek yoghurt
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
The Peanut Butter Sauce
• 1 cup smooth peanut butter
• 3 tbsp of crushed whole tomatoes
• 3 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 red bell pepper
• 1 red chilli
• 1 tsps white sugar
• 2 tsp dark soy sauce
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ cup water
• 3 tbsp roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
• Freshly chopped cilantro leaves
• 1 red chilli (optional)
Preparation: The Chicken Satay
Using a hand blender, blend together the crushed tomatoes, garlic cloves, red bell pepper and red chilli to a thick paste, add a pinch of salt and sugar then blend until smooth and set aside (you can skip this and buy ready-made pepper blend in your local grocery store). In a separate bowl, mix together smoked paprika, salt, white pepper, Greek yoghurt and oil. Now rub the cut chicken pieces into the marinade and cover to marinate for at least 2 hours in a cool place (you can leave it
overnight). One by one, put the marinated chicken cuts (5 to 6 pieces) on the skewers. On medium heat, place a non-stick skillet, then add oil and let heat for a minute or until it’s smoking hot. Once hot, place the chicken skewers, carefully, making sure it’s not too overcrowded & let them cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until it’s cooked through and looks golden brown.
Preparation: The Peanut Butter Sauce
Place a saucepan on medium heat, then add a tsp of vegetable oil, and pour in the crushed tomato and pepper blend, letting this cook for two minutes. Next, add in the peanut butter, soy sauce and stir to combine, then add water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for another 5 minutes. The consistency should be thick, like that of porridge. Once desired consistency is achieved, remove from heat and adjust the seasoning.
Garnish & Plating
In a plate, pile the chicken skewers and drizzle the cooked peanut butter sauce on top. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro, roasted peanuts, and red chilli on top. Serve with steamed or buttered rice, with extra peanut butter sauce on the side as a dip.