We lived in Jakarta on and off for the better part of 4 years in the early 1990’s and always enjoyed the myriad of sÃ¡tes (skewered meats on a bamboo stick) often served with a spicy peanut sauce. The meat was flavorful, moist and succulent. Paired with acar or pickles, it was one of my staple meals at the time. When I tired of beef sÃ¡te, I ordered chicken, and more often than not it was just as good as the beef, and rarely bone dry. So that latent love for sate is probably what recently drove me to experiment with chicken barbecue on a stick over hot coals. Both experiments rated rather poorly on the Marketman scale of 1 to 10…
I used chicken breast (white meat) fillets, cut into smaller pieces. That was probably the first of several errors… next time perhaps chunks of dark meat would be more flavorful, fatty and moist. For barbecue version 1, photo up top, I marinated the barbecue in canned coconut cream and several tablespoons of bottled ginisang bagoong and lots of cracked black pepper. I figured that the coconut milk might help to keep the meat moist. After about 90 minutes in the marinade, we put the chicken on bamboo sticks and grilled them over a hot fire. The second mistake is that the grill wasn’t oiled (because it’s smarter to oil the meat than the grill) and the meat dried out quickly AND stuck to the grill. The flavor was kinda nice, but the meat was bone dry and bordering on cardboard-like texture.
Version 2 of chicken barbecue used a more common marinade of soy, brown sugar, kalamansi, pepper, chilies, garlic, lemongrass, etc. and that was left for about 90 minutes as well. This grilled up on the same fire also resulted in serious sticking and dry meat. This tasted familiar, but wasn’t terribly appetizing. The crew munched on both of these with apparent joy… Spoiled food brats. :)
So the chicken barbecue experiments Round 1 were a total flop. And btw, I have never been able to do a satisfactory pork barbecue recipe either… I gave up a couple of years ago after several iterations that yielded equally unsatisfactory results. And yet every darned street corner in the Philippines seems to have thriving pork barbecue vendors in the early evening hours… harumphhh. Any bright ideas?