Classic Thai BBQ Chicken Recipe

Thai BBQ chicken also known as "Gai Yang" is one of the authentic Thai foods. In the past, this method of cooking, grilling ("Yang") was very common as opposed to stir frying or boiling since due to lack of equipments at that time.

The tremendous smoky barbecue food vendors in Thailand usually line up on both side of streets from morning until late night. The dish is commonly served as an all-day snack or a main dish commonly accompanied with steamed sticky rice (Khao Niew) and varied spicy sauces such as sweet Thai chilli sauce, Nam Jim Jaew (north eastern style) and so forth.

Rotisserie chicken is another popular style of cooking in Thailand. It is also a common street food where the whole chicken is cooked rotating over gas or charcoal heat.

Authentic Thai grilled chicken is usually cooked by individual pieces over a charcoal grill. If cooking with charcoal grill creates an over powering smoky flavor that you may not like, you can try using BBQ or gas grills to cook over high heat for a few minutes of each side and then continue grilling in the oven at 250 F.

However, the Thai succulent grilled chicken is best cooked with low heated charcoal grill or BBQ. The chicken can be marinated with coconut milk, Thai spices such as lemongrass, shallot, garlic, coriander root, black pepper to ensure the chicken is tender and full flavored. Sometimes full cream milk can be used instead of coconut cream.

I find grilling the chicken over low heat will keep the meat moist and tender, coconut cream or milk also enhances the juiciness and tenderness of the meat.

Thai grilled chicken can be made in variety of recipes and sauces according to each region, especially northeast and south. The south of Thailand seems to have the most famous barbecue chicken called "Chicken Golek" or "Gai Golek" in Thai.

Thai "Chicken Golek" is influenced by Ayam Golek – grilled chicken of Islamic Malaysian cuisine. It is simply a grilled chicken marinated in spices and herbs and coconut milk over charcoal grill and then dipped in spiced curry sauce until thickened.

Northeast style chicken features simply marinated meat with oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar. For northeast style grilled chicken is usually served with their local specialties such as steamed sticky rice, papaya salad (som tum), laab salad and Nam Jim Jaew sauce made of chili flakes, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.

In this recipe, I use fresh and spiced ingredients such as turmeric, coriander seeds, black peppers, soy sauce, tamarind juice and palm sugar to marinate the chicken meat. Chicken with skin on is preferred. Either use whole, half or drum sticks and thighs.

My recommendations for other Thai dishes that will make a good Thai set menu are Papaya Salad and/or Thai Beef Salad Click to see recipes!

Have fun and Bon appetite!!

Thai BBQ chicken

Thai BBQ Chicken
gai yang

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minute
Served 4

Ingredients for marinate:
Chicken breasts with skin on 4 pieces
Fresh turmeric finely pounded 2 tbsp or turmeric powder 2 tbsp
Coriander seed dry fry and finely pounded 1 tsp
Black peppers dry fry and finely pounded 1 tsp
Grated Palm sugar 1 tbsp
Coconut cream 4 tbsp

Ingredients for for Sauce::
Tamarind juice ½ cup (To make tamarind juice dissolve 2 tbsp of tamarind paste in ½ cup of water)
Grilled shallots without skin on charcoal grill 4 buds
Grilled garlic without skin 2 cloves
Fish sauce 1 tbsp
Grated Palm sugar 3 tbsp
Dried small chilli dry fry and pounded 1 tsp

Let's get started!

How to make:
Step 1: Marinate

  • Mix all ingredients for marinate in a bowl.

  • Rub chicken in a marinate bowl and leave it to marinate for 1 hour.

Step 2: Making sauce

  • Pound grilled shallot, garlic until smooth.

  • Add tamarind juice, pounded shallot, garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar in a pot.

  • Simmer over low heat until slightly thickened.

  • Remove from the heat.

  • Add pounded dried chilli.

Step 3
Method 1 - Grill

  • Create two heat levels / sides of charcoal – One is high heat and one is low.

  • Place chicken with skin down on grill facing the high heat charcoal temperature for a few minutes. The idea is to brown and seal the chicken.

  • Once sealed, move the chicken to the low heat charcoal and cook for approximately 30 minutes turning regularly.

  • Serve Thai BBQ chicken with steamed sticky rice and your choice of salad or Thai papaya salad.

Method 2 - Oven Baked (Using Oven)

  • Preheat the oven at 250 F.

  • Seal the chicken by grilling in a pan on high heat for a few minutes on each side.

  • Place chicken and grill in oven for 25 minutes.

  • Serve Thai BBQ chicken with steamed sticky rice and your choice of salad or Thai papaya salad.

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