Chicken satays & finale of MasterChef Australia 2011


Grilled chicken satays

Char-grilled chicken satay skewers

Being a foodie that she is, Mysaucepan has many favourite restaurants in Sydney where we live. We are indeed fortunate to live within an Australian city where food trends are vibrant and progressive. Going to dinner at one of her favourite restaurants can mean the equivalent of anything between five and up to fifteen dinners at my favourite cheap and cheerful joints in this melting pot of fooderati that is Sydney.

I believe MasterChef Australia has also played its role in educating the wider public about food culture, the fresh ingredients that we can cook with in this “lucky country”, chefs, providores and food pioneers that has made Australian food and hospitality industry what it is today. And being associated with the food industry, Mysaucepan is an ardent fan of MasterChef Australia each season.

“Hey sweetheart, can I take you out to your favourite Sydney restaurant tonight?” I say pleadingly wide-eyed and with a big smile.

She greets my suggestion with a snarl.

“What?” I say with my hands in the air.

“You know what!!” she retorts. “It’s MasterChef finals tonight!!”

I conjure up my best suprised look and lament, “Awww, damn!! I thought we might check out Quay tonight, after all it’s been awarded three-hats and it’s now Australia’s best fine-dining restaurant, isn’t it?”

“You’re going to pay for this!” she threatens me.

“I honestly didn’t know!” I try to explain whilst trying hide a smirk and stop myself breaking into full blown laughter.

“Tell you what, I will cook your favourite instead!” I say reassuringly.

Soaking satay sticks in water

Soaking bamboo skewers in water

You see, one of Mysaucepan‘s favourite food, apart from Ipoh Kai Si Hor Fun, is Malaysian chicken satays. Her parents used “unlimited satays” as an enticement prize for good grades in high school.

Blending ingredients for spicy satay sauce

Blending ingredients for spicy satay sauce

“How about delicious and succulent char-grilled chicken satays with a rich spicy peanut sauce?” I entice with wincing eyebrows and a big smile.

I know the thought of those skewered juicy satays is going to get her salivating.

Marinating chicken thigh fillets

Chicken thigh fillets marinating in aromatic mix of turmeric, lemongrass, galangal and other spices

Ipoh Kai Si Hor Fun, satay, nasi lemak, no wonder you married a Malaysian boy like me” I say.

“Better still, I can even cook these favourites for you” I boasted.

Skewered chicken satays marinating in fragrant paste

Skewered chicken satays

A smile comes across her face at last. “Okay, you’re forgiven” she tells me.

“There ya go” I say with a smile, “My satays are right up there with Mr Peter Gilmour’s cooking, aren’t they?” I declare to her, referring to the esteemed chef of the award-winning Quay restaurant.

She smiles in silent agreement.

Marinated chicken satays ready for the barbeque

Chicken satays ready for the barbeque

So staying home and having char-grilled satays while watching Masterchef finals sounds like a brilliant idea. What I didn’t want was being couch potatoes and stuffing ourselves silly with forty sticks of satays. That is an ugly thought in my mind.

Satay brush made from slicing a lemongrass stick

Satay brush made from slitting the unused end of a lemongrass stalk and seasoned with light olive oil

So we decide to call our dear friends Eva and Fiona and being the darlings that they are, they oblige our one-day-notice so I immediately whip out my mum’s chicken satay recipe.

At 7pm, our friends waltz into our place with a 2005 Elderton Shiraz from the Barossa valley in South Australia and a beautiful cake supposedly for my birthday last month. Such wonderful darlings that they are!

“This bold and flavoursome wine is perfect to go with the bold and charred flavours of the chicken satays tonight” smiling as I think to myself.

Eva & Fiona's 2005 Elderton Shiraz

Eva & Fiona's 2005 Elderton Shiraz


Finale of Masterchef Australia 2011, Sunday 7 August

Finale of Masterchef Australia 2011, Sunday 7 August

As the finale of MasterChef Australia 2011 fires up on the telly, I fire up my barbie.

Chicken satays grilling on hot barbeque

Chicken satays grilling on hot barbeque

It is important to lightly oil the barbeque and ensure it is sufficiently hot to prevent the satays from sticking onto the grill. The satays should give out a healthy sizzle the moment they hit the grill.

Flipping satays on hot barbeque (Photo courtesy: lovely Eva)

Flipping satays on hot barbeque (Photo courtesy: Arnold Fornachou)

Try to flip the satays only once so that they are nicely charred on each side.

Olive oil on satays using lemongrass brush

Apply olive oil on satays using lemongrass brush (Photo courtesy: Arnold Fornachou)

Oil the satays with the lemongrass brush to infuse more flavours and to encourage the flames to sear the meat.

Back-up lemongrass brush

Back-up lemongrass brush and vegetable oil (Photo courtesy: Arnold Fornachou)

Always have a spare lemongrass brush handy as these brushes burn easily on the hot grill. This is a deliberate and skilled technique where the delicately charred lemongrass fibres from the brushes are intended to infuse fresh flavours onto the satays as the meat caramelises from the heat of the grill.

Mysaucepan drizzling dressing onto salad

Mysaucepan drizzles dressing onto salad of butter lettuce, Roma tomatoes and steamed French beans

As the satays are grilling, Mysaucepan prepares a beautiful salad of butter lettuce, Roma tomatoes and steamed French beans.

Ingredients for salad

2 large ripened Roma tomatoes, sliced
10 – 15 butter lettuce leaves washed and dried
500gm French beans (steamed and rinsed in cold water)

Salad dressing

Mix half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, juice of half a lemon, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle over salad. Then toss salad and serve immediately.

Salad of  butter lettuce, Roma tomatoes and steamed French beans

Tossing salad of butter lettuce, Roma tomatoes and steamed French beans

This salad is one of the simplest yet tastiest salad that I have ever had. The French beans are crunchy and sweet while the flavours of the tomatoes and lettuce leaves are brought to life by the smooth and tangy dressing.

(Tip: Be generous with the lemon juice as it brings out all the flavours in the vegetables).

Chunky lebanese cucumbers and fresh Spanish onions

Chunky lebanese cucumbers and fresh Spanish onions (Photo courtesy: Arnold Fornachou)

The cucumbers and fresh Spanish onions are absolutely delicious when dipped into the spicy peanut sauce. It is a must-have complement to the chicken satays.

Spicy peanut sauce for chicken satays

Spicy peanut sauce for chicken satays (Photo courtesy: Arnold Fornachou)

The spicy peanut sauce should be thick, tangy, spicy, savoury with hearty bits of crunchy peanuts for added texture.

Char-grilled chicken satays

Char-grilled chicken satays with cucumbers and Spanish onions

Unlike beef steaks, I like my chicken satays slightly well done as it is popularly eaten by Malaysians.

Lebih garing” or literally more charred in Bahasa is often shouted by hungry customers to the satay man at the stalls in Malaysia. This is because the charring process caramelises the sugar in the marinate to give a succulent, yet slightly sweet and crispy texture to the meat.

It takes cooking skills to grill a perfect medium rare beef steak as it is an absolute art in grilling chicken satays just well done with the crispy charred flavour.

Michael Weldon draws first blood on Kate Bracks in Round 1

Michael Weldon draws first blood against Kate Bracks in Round 1

As we start to eat, Michael Weldon draws first blood against his opponent Kate Bracks in the first round of the MasterChef Australia 2011 finals.

Char-grilled chicken satay ladened with chunky peanut sauce, cucumber and Spanish onions

Char-grilled chicken satay ladened with chunky peanut sauce, cucumber and Spanish onions (Photo courtesy: Arnold Fornachou)

I draw first blood and savour my first char-grilled chicken satay laden with the rich and spicy peanut sauce. The meat is slightly crisp on the outside and juicy inside. It is slightly sweet and the beautiful charred flavours adds a whole new dimension to the taste.

Char-grilled chicken satays

Char-grilled chicken satays

The crunch of the peanuts gives extra texture to the tender chicken meat and the spicy satay sauce is tasty enough that I am tempted to put a spoonful into my mouth.

Nail-biting excitement and poking fun

Nail-biting excitement and poking fun at other people's contestant

MasterChef Australia 2011 draws on and it is a nail-bitingly close contest between Michael and Kate.

Gary Mehigan rambles on ... as usual

Gary Mehigan rambles on ... as usual

I must say that it is a fantastic idea to have a MasterChef party because it is entertainment while entertaining.

My first batch of satays gets a seal of approval

The first batch of satays gets a seal of approval and praying for your contestant

The first round of satays disappear within minutes as I chuck more onto the barbeque. Some are in deep concentration and glued to the telly.

My belated chocolate mousse birthday cake from Eva and Fiona

My belated chocolate mousse birthday cake from Eva and Fiona

Fiona and Eva reveals a beautiful chocolate mousse cake from La Banette in Glebe for my birthday which has well past. But being such wonderful guests, they never fail to bring pressies, wines and desserts whenever they are over at our place.

Judges tallying their scores - more exciting than succulent chicken satays

Judges tallying their scores - more exciting than succulent chicken satays

Question: What is more exciting than chicken satays?

Answer: The final moments of MasterChef 2011 when all the judges are tallying up the scores to determine the winner.

Eva's candid shot of yours truly in action

Eva's candid shot of me in action

We have two photographers tonight as Eva takes some beautiful photos of the food as well as a shot of me in action with my camera.

Matt Moran gives his verdict

Matt Moran delivers his verdict to the contestants

As we gnaw on our satays, the final verdict is being announced.

George Calombaris awards a 9 out of 10 to Kate

George Calombaris awards a 9 out of 10 to Kate

Kate appears to be in the lead when George Calombaris awards nine points out of ten to her. The room is divided as to who should win this year’s Masterchef.

Gary shouts out a 9 out of 10 for Kate

Gary shouts out a 9 out of 10 for Kate

Kate, the beautiful mother of two from Orange in central New South Wales nudges further ahead with a second nine points out of ten from Gary Mehigan.

Matt hands out a 9 out of 10 to Kate as well!

Matt hands out a 9 out of 10 to Kate as well!

Matt Moran, the acclaimed chef of Aria restaurant at Bennelong awards another nine points to Kate.

Michael looks like a stunt mullet

Michael looks like a stunt mullet

Michael Weldon looks bewildered by this stage of the competition and knows that he is on the verge of being eliminated.

Matt Preston hammers the nail into Michael's "coffin"

Matt Preston hammers the nail into Michael's "coffin"

Matt Preston eventually draws his verdict and Kate Bracks is awarded the winner Masterchef of Australia 2011.

Kate Bracks wins Masterchef Australia 2001!

Kate Bracks wins Masterchef Australia 2001!

Kate rejoices with her family, friends and the judges

Kate celebrates and rejoices with her family, friends and the judges

Final curtain on Masterchef Australia 2011

Final curtain on Masterchef Australia 2011

As the final curtain comes down on MasterChef Australia 2011, I am happy and relieved this show is finally over for yet another season.

I’m not a big fan of MasterChef but Mysaucepan is definitely one to cheer on all her favourite contestants each night over the last few months.

Seal of approval from everyone

Seal of approval from everyone

Apart from MasterChef, I’m glad that my satays have proven to be a hit too.

Click on any of the photos to view ChopinandMysaucepan‘s favourite recipes or simply click here.

So dear readers,

Which of the final four MasterChef 2011 contestants did you support to win?

View Results

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Elderton Wines
5 Tanunda road
Nuriootpa, South Australia 5355

Cellar door opening hours:
Monday – Fridays: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Saturday, Sunday and public holiday: 11.00am – 4.00pm
Closed on Christmas Day & New Years Day

La Banette patisserie Boulangerie
18 Glebe Point Road,
Glebe 2037
Tel: +61 2 8095 9688

Business hours:
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Tel: +61 2 9918 2948

Business hours:
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Visit MasterChef Australia 2011 at MasterChef.com.au

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20 Responses to Chicken satays & finale of MasterChef Australia 2011

  1. All I can say is that the chicken skewers all look fabulous! The crispy chicken is amazing and all the photos are great!

  2. sophia says:

    Your wife is too damn lucky. A husband who knows all her favorite foods and cooks them, too! I adore satays– just never thought of making them myself. I never liked those rice dumplings that come along with it, though, unless it’s dunked in that satay sauce.

    Have you watched the American Masterchef before? It’s hosted by Gordon Ramsay. :)

  3. Happy belated birthday, Chopinand! I’ve been looking for a chicken satay recipe and sauce recipe like yours for ages. Thanks for sharing will have to give this a try.

  4. mac says:

    It’s almost mid-night here and I’m drooling all over my keyboard, those chicken satay look delicious, I’m borrowing your recipe if you don’t mine.

  5. sugarpuffi says:

    nawwwwww so sweet! and your satay sticks looks awesome. i really thought michael will win though.

  6. Hannah says:

    I think my arm could be twisted into ‘most anything if I was bribed with peanut sauce :P

  7. Ramen Raff says:

    Wow! The chicken satay sticks looks amazing! Will attempt to make this

  8. msihua says:

    That was highly entertaining! Your story, not masterchef. I’ve given up on it this year and didn’t bother watching the finale… but those satays look beautiful! Damn.. I guess, to get the best satays, one has to cook them oneself.. bah :)

  9. tigerfish says:

    You make me want to watch Aussie Masterchef! and those Satays are to die for. Yum yum! I do not have a grill for my satay and when faced with time constraints, I will sometimes prepare the satay marinade and season chicken drumstick and chicken wings then send them to the oven to roast – and I am in happiness.

  10. Alice says:

    Mmmm when am I coming over for dinner?

  11. Hahaha, this was so much fun to read! I loved the dialogue between the two of you, and the cooking show going on in the background! :D

  12. YUM! How delicious looking these chicken Satays are! And I absolutely love the Satay brush made from lemongrass stalk!!! I love authentic method like this! Happy belated birthday to you!!! And, I like the portrait of your back! LOL!

  13. Joanne says:

    With that fabulous satay sauce, I’m pretty sure you could bribe me as well!

  14. Delicious looking satay! Your wife is so lucky to have you. I’m married to a Malaysian man too but he can’t cook. :D

  15. Carolyn Jung says:

    What a fun and delicious get-together. I must say I have become hooked on “MasterChef,” too, and it’s only in its second season in the States.

  16. A plateful of cleaned bamboo skewers are always testament to happily devoured satay! No excuses needed =D

  17. Chopinand says:

    Hi Maris, thank you for your comments :)

    Hi sophia, You are right on both accounts – I’m not a big fan of the “rice dumplings” too which is why I didn’t bother making them. They are called ketupat in Bahasa. And, my wife is “too damn lucky”. I would be sure to tell her that! Hey, I’m not even a fan of Aussie MasterChef!! So glad it’s finally OVER!!

    Hi Dumpling Girl, thanks for your kind wishes. I would be keen to see how you go with this recipe. Do note the spicy, sweet and salt level needs adjustment according to how you like your peanut sauce. Therefore, I would advise to add sugar, salt and tamarine juice gradually to adjust to you and Cheesecake Boy’s tastes preferences.

    Hi mac, you sure may and please let me know how you go with it.

    Hi sugarpuffi, I was too caught up with grilling satays to pay any attention to the telly.

    Hi Hannah, now that I know your weakness…. :=)

    Hi Ramen Raff, have fun with the recipe!

    Hi msihua, yes I really do find making your own satays is a great way to ensure you get exactly how you like you satays to taste!

    Hi tigerfish, I think roasting satays in the oven is not a bad substitute although you need to place the satays on a stand to prevent them from stewing.

    Hi Alice, you have a special invitation to come for dinner at any time you like! The sooner the better :)

    Hi Kath, we had a great time especially those who were following the show for the last 3 months or so!

    Hi Nami, thanks for your wishes. The satay stick is a great innovative brush that is useful and adds flavour at the same time!

    Hi Joanne, I should get you and Hannah into my kitchen at the same time and get you two to cook me something delicious in return for the peanut sauce. :)

    Hi Ching, I’m sure your husband loves to eat and that is also a skill!

    Hi Carolyn, that show can get really addictive, especially for foodies!

    Hi mademoiselle delicieuse, yes cleaned bamboo skewers was definitely my goal by the end of the evening and we finished the lot!

  18. Fiona says:

    This is a special ChopinandSaucepan review. It still brings a smile on my face weeks afterwards. I had such a great time, incredibly honoured to share the finals of Masterchef with such great company and those delicious satays….yumm!!! Single handedly, I must say I had a heavy hand in contributing to those clean sticks :)
    Who needs to venture back to KL for satays when I am lucky to have it right here in my backyard in Sydney! Ever grateful. Biggest hugs.

  19. I would have taped Master Chef and made you take me to the restaurant! We love satays too and yours look so yummy!

  20. Kimby says:

    Thank you for the link in your comment leading me to your tutorial and authentic satay recipe! I just printed it off and will definitely put it on my “must make” list! I enjoyed all of your tips (plus the idea of added flavor from charring them longer!), as well as the entertainment from the chef finale!

    The added bonus was reading your previous post to see what Mysaucepan’s favorite food was — loved your version of “chicken soup for the soul!” :) Thanks again!

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