Monday 15 April 2013

Satay Ayam Goreng (Violet Oon's Cooking Class)

This past weekend, through the recommendation of a friend, I was privileged to attend a cooking class at The Private Pantry. Thank you to The Private Pantry for the invitation to attend Violet Oon's Nonya cooking session. The Private Pantry also organises cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes in Singapore by many other renowned chefs teaching different types of cuisines such as Thai, Italian, French and Spanish. Check out other classes by The Private Pantry here

Violet Oon doesn't need much of an introduction for Singaporeans. She has been a household name in Singapore for the many decades and I have heard much about her Nonya Food specialty which made me really excited about going to this class to pick up some tips. For those who do not know her, Violet Oon is one of Singapore's leading food gurus and considered a leading authority on Asian cuisine. 

During the class, she demonstrated three mouth-watering Nonya specialties: Satay Ayam Goreng, Garam Assam Fish and Sambal Belacan and also gave the class many valuable tips on preparing the spice mix required in Nonya cooking. 

Garam Assam Fish cooking away on the stove: Ikan Tenggiri or Garoupa fish steaks are cooked in a spicy and tangy curry with tomatoes, pineapples, laksa leaves and ginger flowers.  One can also add other vegetables such as brinjal or ladies fingers or use other kinds of seafood for this dish.

My tasting portion of Garam Assam Fish: According to Violet, a strong tasting fish is used with this curry so that it compliments the richness of the sauce. The firm fleshed fish goes well with the sauce and the tomatoes and pineapples adds a sharp edge to the Assam sauce which makes it extra refreshing. 

Sambal Belachan: Shrimp paste is pounded with fresh cut chillies in a pestal. This salty and spicy concoction is made perfect with a few drops of fresh lime juice. This can also be made in a food processor but the effect won't be the same as that using the traditional motar and pestal method, said Violet. 

Satay Ayam Goreng stewing away on the stove: This has to be my favourite dish among the three (recipe below). In this dish, pieces of chicken are stewed till tender in a spicy and aromatic coconut sauce. And one doesn't need to fry the spice mix ahead which means it doesn't require oil and is therefore much healthier. 

The sauce of the Satay Ayam Goreng being thickened: After the chicken pieces are done, they are removed and the sauce is slowly reduced further till it is thick and rich. 

My tasting portion of Satay Ayam Goreng: The succulent pieces of chicken covered with an aromatic and spicy sauce. The sauce will be delicious with bread or rice.

Satay Ayam Goreng
Recipe by Violet Oon

  • 1 chicken cut into pieces of 1.2 kg of cut up thighs and breast of a chicken
  • 3 cups of thick coconut cream or freshly squeezed coconut cream from 2 coconuts
  • 1 - 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 - 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 stalk lemongrass smashed, to allow flavours to infuse curry
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, broken up, to allow flavours to infuse the gravy
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder*

Spice Mixture
  • 5 dried chillies or 1 tbsp dried chilli paste
  • 5 candlenuts, washed and drained
  • 3 red chillies, sliced roughly
  • 150 g shallots, peeled, sliced roughly
  • 1 tsp belacan (shrimp paste)

*Dry fry coriander seeds in frying pan till light fragrant. Grind in a coffee grinder and sieve to get dine powder. Discard the rough bits. Alternatively, buy ready-made coriander powder. 


1. Wash dried chillies, soak in hot water for about 1 to 2 hours till softened. Cut the stalks off and cut the chillies into small pieces.
2. Pound the candlenuts till semi-fine. Add the fresh chillies and pound till semi-fine. Add the dried chillies and pound for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shrimp paste and pound well. The last ingredient to add is shallots. Pound till the mixture is very fine. Alternatively, you can grind the ingredients in a food processor till you get a smooth paste. Grind all the other ingredients first before adding the shallots for further grinding.
3. Mix all the ingredients (spice mix, coconut milk, lemongrass, lime leaves, chicken) in the sauce pan and bring to boil. Sprinkle the coriander powder into the pan and then add salt and sugar to taste. Simmer till the liquid is reduced and the gravy is thick. 
4. If the chicken is cooked (45 mins to 1 hour) and can be easily pierced with a fork, remove the chicken and further thicken the gravy till desired consistency.
5. Serve with rice, first removing the lemongrass and lime leaves.


  1. Mich, I am not familiar with Violet Oon and I agree with her that sambal belacan is best prepared with mortar and pestle. The satay ayam goreng looks so delicious and I would scoop lots of the gravy on my rice.

  2. Hi Mich, like PH, I'm not familiar with Violet Oon but the satay chicken looks absolutely delicious. I will be thinking about this for the whole day :P

  3. Violet Oon is a popular Chef with Peranakan dishes and I'd watched her demo a few times.
    This satay ayam goreng looks very delicious, definitely can goes with extra rice :)

  4. Thanks so much for sharing it, Mich. Love the sambal :o)
    Enjoy your week ahead dear.

  5. Wow Mich, everything looks so appetizing! I would surely have double portion of rice cos I loveeeee these kind of gravy.

  6. This satay ayam goreng is so delicious, thanks for sharing this recipe.

  7. Mich , everything looks flavorful and drool-worthy ! You're so lucky to attend her demo :)

  8. Hi Mich,
    I have heard of Violet Oon and have seen her recipes in some magazines, but have never attempted her recipes before. The Satay Ayam Goreng looks delicious, would love to try this one of this days!

  9. I'm hungry now! What a great post. I have heard of Violet Oon but it was great to see/read more about her culinary prowess. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Delicious! I too like the chicken curry dish but the sambal looks good too.

  11. Sounds like it would be fun to go to a cooking class. Your photos look so yummy.

  12. Looks so flavorful and delicious! I'd need lots of rice for this. YUM!

  13. Sounds like a really fun class! I love the close-up shots, I could almost feel the spicy deliciousness of the food. Yum yum!

  14. Mich, this satay ayam goreng looks delicious though they aren't on the skewers! The colour is so vibrant!

  15. Hi Mich! Thanks for sharing with us what you had learnt in the cooking class!

    I love the Assam fish dish. Do you have the recipe?

  16. How lucky to be able to attend to this event. It is nice to learn new things especially when they are food related! I have been looking into joining a cookery class too, the problem is finding the time for it. All these dishes look yummy!

  17. Sounds like you had a great time! If you pop over to my blog I have awarded you the Best Moment Award!

  18. what interesting post Mich, Im sure you enjoyed!! look awesome!

  19. What a wonderful class -- all of these dishes look amazing!

  20. Looks like you had a great time!! We are going to Paris in May and are looking to take a French cooking class!! hopefully we come back with great recipes and tips!

  21. Hi Mich,

    Violet Oon is a great cook and you are so lucky attending her class. Like violet said, I like using motar and pestle and prefer to use both processing and gounding method but sometimes, lazy to use both. Ops!


  22. thank you for sharing the recipe! that gravy looks superb!!

  23. Hello Mich, it sounds like a great opportunity and her Satay Ayam Goreng looks so wonderfully delicious an explosion of flavors.

  24. Hi Mich, I always love satay ayam goreng, one of my top favorite. Yours look soooo delicious. If you invite me I can have extra rice, no problem. :)

  25. Can I please ask this satay chicken recipe have no peanuts ...? Cos to me satay must have peanuts, am I missing Something here ...?

    1. Hi, this is the Nonya version... Satay simply means cut into pieces... its not the India satay that we are familiar with....

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