Sambal Chicken Skewers
So, I have a confession to make.
I’m a really bad griller. It’s true. If you ask me to grill you something, I am probably, most likely, almost definitely going to mess it up.
I’m sure that the whole thing is probably easy enough to do if you’ve got a gas grill, but we only have a charcoal grill at my house and for the life of me, I cannot keep that thing hot enough to cook the food. Don’t get me started on using smokers and special types of wood and all those other fancy doohickies (did I spell that right? I don’t think I did.)
I remember one Memorial Day a couple of years back where I tried to help my Mom grill. When we couldn’t keep the coals hot enough, we finally got the idea in our heads that we needed something to feed the flames since the coals obviously weren’t cutting it.
Don’t ask why, but for some reason, we decided to go with old newspaper.
Well, it got the coals hot enough, for sure. It all just started going south AFTER we put the meat on the grill…and the newspaper started flaking and flying up all over the place, sticking to the food.
Good times, Good times.
Long story short, we ended up rinsing off the meat and just finishing it all in the oven and slow cooker that day. But it still served to teach me a very valuable lesson: I’m NOT a griller. At least not now. Maybe one day I’ll just sit down and force myself to learn. I could also just find a guy to date who knows how to do it and just leave all that grilling business to him. Either one would work.
I say all of this because it’s very frustrating for me when I see or find a recipe that I would reeeeeeeeeally like to try, but it’s supposed to be grilled. My culinary shoulders give a little slump every time I see that and I just think,
“What? It’s supposed to be grilled? But…but…I don’t know how to grill. I suck at grilling. How am I supposed to do make this if it’s supposed to be grilled? No fair!”
Most of the time, I just end up putting said recipes aside for the day that I do end up learning to grill. But not this time. This time, I just couldn’t put it aside. I wanted to make this recipe, darn it. And I didn’t want to let grilling get in the way of me and my food.
Bon Appetit is such a dangerous website for me. I can browse it for 5 minutes, and suddenly I want to cook absolutely everything I see there. That’s what happened with this recipe. I saw it, and I just knew, people. I knew I had to make this, come hell or high water.
I may not know how to operate my charcoal grill…but my oven? She and I are on very good terms with each other.
I made this recipe work for me, people. And really, I’m so glad I did. Because grill or no grill, it’s really so friggin delicious. The marinade is what really makes the flavors pop. The rice wine vinegar gives a slight tang and acidity to the chicken that is somehow tempered by both the saltiness of the fish sauce and the sweetness of the ginger and brown sugar. The hot chili paste doesn’t bring as much heat as you would think it would- I would describe it more as more of a smoky flavor. The Sriracha is where the heat comes in, sneaking up on you in the back of your throat even after you’ve swallowed the chicken. I’ve eaten a lot of chicken breasts and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to inject them with much flavor. But this really does do the job.
I did make some modifications to this recipe for my own purposes: first, I obviously baked them in the oven rather than grilling them. But the original does call for them to be grilled, I can see how they would taste even better if they were. So if you’re good at grilling, then by all means, go for it. Second, rather than just putting the marinade on the meat the same day as cooking, I did let them it sit overnight in the fridge, just to make sure all the flavors would fully permeate. However, if you’re in a hurry this isn’t necessarily mandatory. Third, the original recipe called for you to take the used marinate, bring it to a boil over the stove, then brush it over the finished chicken.
Yeah…I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. I know that boiling the marinade is ‘supposed’ to take the bacteria out of it. But my paranoia and just the idea of eating something that raw, uncooked chicken sat in made me feel queasy. I just re-made the whole marinade and warmed it up over the stove. That way I don’t have to worry that I’ve poisoned myself and my family.
So, Grill. We managed to avoid each other once more. Perhaps we shall meet one day- but that day is not today.
Guys, I give you…Sambal Chicken.
Sambal Chicken Skewers
Recipe Adapted from BonAppetit.com
- 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
- 1/4 cup Sriracha
- 2 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch–2-inch pieces
- Sesame seeds, optional
- 8 bamboo skewers soaked in water at least 1 hour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Thread 4 or 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.
3. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and place a wire rack over it. Spray rack with non-stick cooking spray. Lay chicken skewers on rack and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until chicken reaches inner temperature of 165 degrees.
4. While chicken is baking,make a second batch of the marinade and warm in a saucepan over the stove.
5. Brush sauce over finished chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
15 thoughts on “Sambal Chicken Skewers”
These look/sound delicious, Jess! Such a fun narrative to read too…LOL, date a guy who can grill! Hint #1…get yourself a “chimney” to start the coals in, it’s no-fail for me! You’ll figure it out on your own I bet…maybe it can be your goal for summer 2015. 😉
Thanks for the tip Nancy, that’s a good idea. I should totally make a Food Bucket List for 2015 😀
Ha, Nancy is right get yourself a starter chimney. I will confess sometimes I cheat and use matchlight, don’t judge me.
Your skewers are seriously spicy and delicious, look so good with that rice. Yum.
Psssh, who am I to judge Suzanne? Given my track record wtih grilling, I would probably STILL mess it up using the match light lol
Thank you <3
Lol. Ive been known to do just that.
I bet these are amazing! My hubby will love, thanks for posting!
Thanks Bonnie, I hope he likes them 🙂
I posted about building up a tolerance to spicy food today. I think I may be up to this wonderful looking dish and the heat! 🙂
I used to have a zero tolerance for spicy food. I built my endurance up over the years, but I still think these would taste just as good without as much of or even entirely without the Sriracha. Thank you!
But I love Siracha now…lol! 😉
Ahh. I feel the same way. Any food magazine site is bad because everything looks so good. I’m not a griller either. Or a baker for that matter.These Sambal Chicken skewers look so delish! I love Sambal and Sriracha and always have them on hand. You always have the most amazing chicken recipes =)
Thanks Andrea, I’m ALWAYS looking for new ways to jazz chicken up. We eat a lot of it over here 😉
Oh yum. YUMMY.. We have just a charcoal grill too…. and I SUCK at grilling! Mike just mentioned to me last night that I haven’t made Chiavettas chicken lately…and I kind of cringed, because I knew that he was hinting that he wanted it… and he knows that I’ll make it if he wants it…I just hate grilling!!
I’m so glad that you made this Jess… show them that a grill is not necessary!! I can’t wait to give this one a try… that delicious sauce on the rice…and then some of it mixing into rice (LOVE rice!!)… oh yeah, this is my kind of meal.
You make the best stuff. Love this. Love you. <3
Grills are overrated…..okay, maybe I’m just saying that because I can’t grill but still…lol
Thanks Prudy 🙂