Summer vacation is really over. I have been in denial about its pending end for the last several weeks (as evidenced by my absence from the blog) and have been avoiding doing anything that might make me face the reality of the new school year. Unlike previous years, my oldest daughter is off to start the next chapter of her life with a new adventure in California. I knew her moving away was inevitable but I really wasn’t as ready for it as I thought I would be. There may have been some crying involved as we said good-bye. However, part of parenting is letting your children grow up and making yourself let go. So, life must go on and so must dinner which brings us to today’s recipe – Singapore-style chicken satay.
I have tried a lot of chicken satay recipes in the past and have only ever gotten lukewarm reviews from my family. However, this one was different. This one actually got nods of approval and happy eating faces. I think the addition of rice wine vinegar and the notable minimal use of peanut butter in the dipping sauce (which is also used to baste the chicken as it’s grilling) distinguishes this recipe from typical satay recipes. The chicken doesn’t feel heavy and it doesn’t rely on the sauce for its flavor. Instead the flavor is built up, first, from a good marinade and, secondly, from the basting.
Enjoy the long weekend, friends. Get some grilling time in and don’t forget to give your kids an extra hug. They really do grow up too quickly.
For the chicken
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips
For the sauce
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1–2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce (depending on desired spice level)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 cup finely chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts
For the chicken
In a large bowl, whisk together the water, sugar, garlic, peanut oil, turmeric, cumin and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Add the chicken and the turn the chicken pieces until they are coated evenly with the marinade. Cover the bowl and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare the sauce.
For the sauce
In a small bowl, whisk the boiling water and peanut butter together until the peanut butter is dissolved into water. Whisk in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Set aside.
In a small skillet, heat the peanut oil and garlic over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and sizzling, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the chili-garlic sauce and turmeric. Cook an additional 30 seconds.
Whisk the garlic mixture into the soy mixture until combined. Reserve half of the sauce for grilling. Set the remainder aside to serve with the cooked chicken.
For grilling and serving
When ready to grill the chicken, heat the grill to medium-high. When hot, leave one part of the grill at medium-high. Turn the heat to low on the other part of the grill.
Thread chicken pieces onto skewers. Discard the marinade.
Grill the chicken, uncovered, over medium-high heat until well charred, 3-4 minutes. Flip the skewers and then brush the chicken with some of the reserved sauce. Grill the second side for another 3-4 minutes. Flip again and move the skewers to the cooler side of the grill. Brush the chicken with more sauce, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked through, another 6-7 minutes. Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and serve with sauce.
The turmeric in the marinade can really stain your hands. I like to wear food-safe gloves when I skewer the chicken so my hands don’t turn yellow.