Gai Yang: Thai Barbecued Chicken

Gai is Thai for chicken, and yang is of course barbecued, so gai yang is Thai style barbecued chicken. The marinade is the secret to getting a delicious golden browned skin with a spicy taste of coconut milk and tumeric.

3 lbs. chicken pieces, skin on (thighs, legs, breasts, or a whole chicken, cut up)

2 t. fresh pepper, finely ground
1 T. tumeric
1 t. salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
13½ oz. can coconut milk

Mix ingredients into a marinade. Put the marinade and chicken pieces into a plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight. Cook on a barbecue grill, turning the pieces frequently to avoid burning. (The drippings create lots of smoke and it's easy to burn your chicken.) Serve with dipping sauce (below).

Use the marinade as a basting sauce for the first part of the cooking. Discard the marinade after the chicken is about half cooked! Warning: It is not safe to reuse the marinade after it has been exposed to raw chicken!

Dipping Sauce

6 small serrano chiles, deseeded if desired, finely minced (optional)
9 cloves garlic, finely minced
¾ C. white vinegar
1 C. sugar
1 C. lime juice (6-8 limes)
6 T. fish sauce (see note)
1 T. red pepper flakes

Wear protective gloves to mince the chiles. In a small saucepan bring vinegar and lime juice to a boil. Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. Cool sauce to room temperature to serve, or you may make it in advance and store covered in your refrigerator for a few days, possibly for many weeks. Return to room temperature before serving.

Note: The following measurements provide sufficient dipping sauce for two servings.

2 small serrano chiles, deseeded if desired, finely minced (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ C. white vinegar
⅓ C. sugar
⅓ C. lime juice (2-3 limes)
2 T. fish sauce
1 t. red pepper flakes

Note: Fish sauce: Called "nam pla" in Thailand, this popular Asian seasoning is made from fermented fish, often anchovies. In some ways it is similar to Western seasonings such as Worcestershire sauce which is made in part from fermented anchovies. You could probably leave this ingredient out if you can't find a store that sells it. Possible substitutes: (1) light soy sauce, or (2) mix canned anchovies with soy sauce in a 4:1 ratio, then process the heck out of it. (If they're packed in oil wipe off the oil first.) I would be reluctant to trust that this would be the same concentration as real fish sauce, so you would have to experiment. I have not tested these substitutes.

Credit: My own original recipe inspired by the gai yang I've enjoyed in Thai restaurants.

Filed under Poultry   Tagged Thai, barbecue, chicken, dinner