Sambal, Ketjap and Dutch Chicken Saté

On the Menu:

Dutch-style Chicken Skewers with Peanut Saté Sauce and a Vegetable Stir Fry

Chicken saté is as Dutch as Chicken Tikka Masala is British.

Due to the colonial connection of the Netherlands with Indonesia, Nasi Goreng is as common as a Sunday roast. And the Dutch use sambal and ketjap manis as everyday as the Brits use mustard or Worcestershire sauce.

THE brand when growing up was Conimex. Most households had the same old oil-splattered 30 cent Heineken endorsed recipe book that I still treasure. I’ve also got a later version in German (go figure) and another one in English. All are nigh on antiques by now.



You can find Conimex or other Indonesian brands in the foreign food aisle of most English supermarkets.

It’s not foreign food for the Dutch though. It’s positively Dutch.

Mum served (tinned) tomato soup with a drizzle of coffee cream and ketjap.  Ketjap also made an appearance in her meatballs, as did a nasi goreng spice mix. Her spag bol and BBQ sauce also featured ketjap. And a fondue Bourguignonne in the 70s would not have been complete without saté sauce on the side.

Different sambals, ketjap manis and atjar tjampoer (vegetable pickle) are my store cupboard staples to this day. Conimex by default rather than choice, as other (more authentic) brands are hard to come by here without jumping through considerable hoops.

Mind you, “back home” that bottle of ketjap would have been a magnum. Not kidding.

conimex products

Ketjap (or ketcap) manis is basically a sweet soy sauce. Sambal is a chili based condiment, used whenever you would use a fresh red chili or a chili sauce.

The different names of sambal denote different preparations and added ingredients. Sambal Oelek is the hottest and most widely available, a simple chili and salt preparation. Sambal Badjak is milder, baked with onions and garlic. Sambal Brandal is aromatic with molasses, onion, galangal and lime. Sambal Manis is the mildest, baked to an almost burned hue.

One of my favourite snacks growing up was a Ryveta cracker spread with peanut butter and a good scraping of Sambal Manis on top. Still love it. Try it. Yum.

The term “saté” in Dutch refers to the skewer, usually chicken (ayam) or pork (babi). Colloquially though, more often than not, “saté” denotes a chicken skewer with its ubiquitous peanut sauce.

You’ll find chicken saté in every chip shop in the Netherlands, or you can have saté sauce (peanut sauce) poured over your chips.

Recipes vary from household to household. Mum’s sauce was pretty much a cheap smooth peanut butter, skimmed milk, dark brown sugar, ketjap manis and a little sambal to taste.  Don’t think limes nor coconut milk had hit the local shops yet back then.

Mum’s chicken skewer would have been marinated in a Conimex packet mix. Doesn’t fit with my clean eating lifestyle today though. So replicated the ingredients of the packet mix by using fresh ingredients and store cupboard spices instead.


Dutch-style Chicken Saté (serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter– GF DF RSF LC)

chicken,sate,Dutch,recipe,stir fry,peanut sauce,skewer


3-4 chicken breasts

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp lemon grass powder, fresh lemon grass or from a jar (I did not have any so added the zest of a lime)

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)

1 tbsp finely chopped or grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp finely chopped or grated garlic

Coconut juice, derived from 30gr desiccated coconut. Pour over enough boiling water to cover, infuse for min 30 mins, drain through a cloth into a bowl and wring the cloth to get all the juices out. Discard the coconut or use in another recipe, keep the juice (“Santen”). For the lazy who like it creamy and fancy, use a cup of coconut milk

1 tbsp sambal of choice if you have it. Else chili sauce

A little rapeseed oil or coconut oil if frying

lime wedges to serve


Dice the chicken breasts, about 3-4 cm across.

Mix together the dry spices, garlic, ginger, coconut sugar, santen and sambal or chili sauce. Add the chicken and mix to coat. Leave to marinade in the fridge for as long as you have time for (min 1hr or overnight).

Skewer the chicken onto metal or wooden skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water beforehand, this prevents the wood from burning during the cooking process. This should yield 6-8 skewers, 3 each as a main, or 2 each as a starter.

Either throw on the barbie, grill or fry in a non-stick pan or grill pan in some rapeseed or coconut oil. Turn often until just cooked and golden.

Serve smothered in sate sauce with lime wedges and a salad garnish as a starter, or as a mains with  a vegetable stir fry, rice or, Dutch style, chips!

Classic Dutch Saté Sauce (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter – GF DF RSF V LC)

This sauce is also great with pork or prawn skewers or can be used cold for gado gado.


½ jar top quality crunchy peanut butter (I used Meridian organic crunchy 100% peanut)

150-200 ml milk (go DF with coconut milk or another non-dairy milk)

1-2 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)

1-2 tbsp ketjap manis (go DF with Tamari, or use normal soy sauce, but add an extra pinch or 2 of sugar in that case)

1- 1½ tbsp sambal, chili sauce or 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped


Heat all the ingredients over low/medium heat. Add more or less of one or the other until you are happy with the balance of flavours and the consistency.

Stir fried kale, Chinese cabbage, red pepper, mushroom and carrot (serves 3-4 – GF DF V Vg LC RSF)

This is not really a recipe to speak of, more an outline guide for whatever suitable veg you have in the fridge. The key is to get your wok ultra hot before adding oil and keeping it on high heat as you go, except for a momentary simmer with a lid if needed.

Start with the veg that take longest to cook. That’s why I don’t like ready prepared stir fry mixes in a bag: the veggies need different cooking times.

Don’t add garlic and ginger too early, or they will burn.

Can be served as a side dish or as a main with rice or noodles. I mixed mine with thin black bean noodles as a main the next day, an unexpected find at my local farm shop!



1-2 good handfuls of kale, shredded

½ Chinese cabbage, shredded

½ red pepper, finely sliced

A good handful of mushrooms, sliced

1 carrot, grated or cut into thin batons

1-2 cloves of garlic

A good thumb of fresh ginger

A good dollop of sambal oelek, chili sauce or ½ – 1 fresh chili, finely chopped, seeded if you don’t like it too hot.

A few spring onions, tops, tails and outer leaf removed, thinly sliced

A few tbsp rice wine, water or stock

A little rapeseed oil or coconut oil

A good splash of ketjap manis, soy sauce or GF tamari

A splash of toasted sesame oil

Some fresh coriander and/or mint if you have it, finely chopped

Some toasted sesame seeds (optional)

S&P to taste


I find stir fried kale remains a little tough, so I microwave mine with some water, stock or rice wine for 3-5 mins before stir frying.

Finely chop the garlic, ginger and chili (if using) either by hand or all together in a mini-food processor

Heat the oil or coconut oil in a hot wok. Hot being the operative word.

Add the softened and drained kale and stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the red pepper and continue stir frying for another minute or two.

Add the garlic, ginger and chili (if using). Stir fry for another minute.

Add the mushrooms and carrot. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add the rice wine, water or stock, the ketjap and sambal or chili sauce (if using). Stir, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 2-4 minutes.

Remove the lid, turn the heat back up and add the Chinese cabbage and spring onion.

Quick stir to heat, then add the fresh herbs and a little sesame oil (if using) to give a lovely aroma and shine.

Check and adjust the seasoning before serving sprinkled with a few sesame seeds (if using).

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