Make Your Own Street Food: Singapore Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Daniel Hautzinger
Milk Street's Singapore Chicken Satay. Photo: Connie Miller of CB Creatives
Milk Street's Singapore Chicken Satay. Photo: Connie Miller of CB Creatives

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street airs Saturdays at 4:00 pm.

Singapore is renowned for its street foods and open-air food markets (the first thing the protagonists of Crazy Rich Asians do when arriving in Singapore is go eat at one of these markets), and one popular dish that has even made its way to the United States by way of Thai restaurants is chicken satay: charred chunks of meat on a skewer served with a peanut sauce. It is traditionally cooked over coals, but Christopher Kimball's Milk Street has come up with an ingenious trick to allow you to make it with your broiler, without any dangerous smoking or flare-ups. 

Singapore Chicken Satay

In Singapore, satay—thin strips of boldly seasoned and skewered meat—is cooked quickly over long beds of hot coals. The skewers are flipped frequently to ensure even cooking and plenty of delicious charred bits at the edges. It typically is served with a thin vinegar-based sauce that includes a scant amount of peanut butter and chopped peanuts for flavor and texture. In our recipe, the skewers are broiled on a wire rack set over a baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkled with 1 cup of kosher salt. The salt absorbs the fat when drips hit the pan, thereby preventing the fat from smoking. 

Note: Don't marinate the chicken for more than 3 hours or it will be too salty. And don't substitute chicken breasts. Under high heat, they dry out and easily overcook. 

Start to finish: 35 minutes, plus marinating

Servings: 4


For the chicken:
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
6 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp toasted peanut oil
2 tbsp ground turmeric
4 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips

For the sauce:
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp toasted peanut oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
2 tsp chili-garlic sauce such as Sriracha
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 cup finely chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts


1. To prepare the chicken, in a large bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, sugar, oil, turmeric, cumin, 1 tbsp salt, and 1/2 cup water. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then stir in the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

2. To make the sauce, in a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water and peanut butter until smooth. Whisk in the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, then set aside. In a small skillet over medium, heat the oil, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili-garlic sauce and turmeric, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk the garlic mixture into the soy mixture. Reserve 1/4 cup for basting the chicken. Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce for serving.

3. About 30 minutes before skewering and cooking the chicken, remove the sauce from the refrigerator. Stir in the chopped peanuts. Heat the broiler with a rack about 4 inches from the element. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread 1 cup salt in an even layer over it. Set a wire rack in the baking sheet over the salt and mist with cooking spray.

4. Drain the chicken in a colander. Thread 2 or 3 pieces of chicken onto each of eight 8-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and pushing the pieces together, but not tightly packing them. Evenly space the skewers on the wire rack.

5. Broil the chicken until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the skewers and continue to broil until the second sides begin to brown, another 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush each skewer with 1 to 2 tbsp of the reserved sauce. Continue to broil until well-charred, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven once again, flip the skewers and brush with another 1 to 2 tbsp of the reserved sauce. Continue to broil until the second sides begin to char and the chicken is cooked through, another 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with the dipping sauce.