You know how everyone has one food that they just can’t stand? Mine is fresh tomatoes. The mealy texture freaks me out. Even the smell, when too strong, is enough to make my stomach turn. I know, I know. Heirlooms aren’t the same as the beefsteak grocery store variety. I agree. They’re definitely much better, but I still can’t hang. I continue to try them every year, and every year I curl my nose and wish I hadn’t taken a bite.
For my brother, that food is peanut butter. He hates it. I’ve genuinely never seen someone dislike a food more without being deathly allergic to it. When we were kids, I would chase him around the house with an open container because even the smell freaked him out. That’s what loving big sisters do, right? I’ll never understand it because peanut butter is so good! But I’m sure he thinks the same thing about how much I hate tomatoes.
So this dish is not for him, but he is missing out. The recipe that follows makes a complex, but well balanced sauce that’s sweet, salty, spicy, and slightly malty. The chicken is succulent with a crispy char around the edges and flavors of ginger, garlic, and umami goodness. The two go together beautifully and make the perfect appetizer, or can be served over a bed of rice with steamed vegetables.
4 to 6-inch long wooden or metal skewers
4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 large garlic cloves
1-inch ginger, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup porter or stout
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon canola oil, plus more for baking sheet
Cut chicken lengthwise into strips approximately 1/2″ thick; transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Place all ingredients after chicken in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Pour mixture over chicken to marinate; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for one hour, up to overnight.
Set broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil. Thread chicken onto prepared skewers, leaving enough room at one end to pick up; arrange on prepared baking sheet and set on the top rack beneath the broiler. Once chicken is slightly charred, about 5 minutes, flip skewers over and continue cooking until done. Alternatively, grill chicken for 5 to 7 minutes per side.
Peanut Porter Sauce
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 large shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon grated ginger root
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup smoked porter, robust porter, or stout
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, and ginger; cook, stirring frequently, until shallots soften and mixture is fragrant. Add remaining ingredients; simmer, stirring occassionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth.
Pour into a serving bowl and cool to room temperature. Sauce may thicken as it sits; if this occurs, add a splash of water or beer and stir to combine prior to serving. If preparing in advance, cover and refrigerate; allow to come to room temperature prior to serving.
Garnish with freshly chopped green onion and crushed peanuts.