Thai Barbecued Chicken (Gai Yang)

Thai_Barbecued_Chicken_(Gai Yang)2 (1 of 1)I pulled out the grill (I have a charcoal grill — I prefer the end results over gas) for the first time this spring. I made one of my favorite chicken recipes, Gai Yang. Gai yang is a beloved “street food” in Thailand — you find it everywhere, and when you get it, it comes in a plastic bag, together with another plastic bag of delicious spicy pepper dipping sauce. The marinade for the chicken calls for a commonly used ingredient in Thailand, including fresh, scraped coriander (cilantro) roots. If that’s not available, you can use the stems of the plant (which is what I use, and it seems to work well). This grilled chicken is flavorful and wonderful. I hope you’ll try it!

1 whole chicken (3 to 4 lbs), cut into 8 pieces (so you end up with 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 drum sticks)
2 stalks lemongrass (lower 6 inches), outer leaves removed and very finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh garlic
3 Tbsp fresh coriander root, or 1/4 cup coarsely chopped coriander stems
1 1/4 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp (plus) canola oil

Add lemongrass, ginger, garlic, coriander root (or stems), turmeric, brown sugar, fish sauce and oil to a food processor. Puree to a very fine paste, adding additional tablespoons of oil as needed.

Combine chicken pieces and paste in a large bowl. Mix well and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Be sure to stir chicken mixture occasionally.

Prepare grill.

Grill chicken about 25 minutes, until cooked but not overdone. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and a spicy Thai chili dipping sauce.

Serves 4.


4 thoughts on “Thai Barbecued Chicken (Gai Yang)

  1. The High Heel Gourmet

    If someone didn’t give your this recipe, I would give you a medal for figuring this out on your own! However, I guarantee with my head that there is no ginger in most Gai Yang in Thailand but may be galangal which is not common and will be used sparingly. If you like your recipe it’s great but if you think it’s not there yet. I would like to suggest you add ground black or white pepper. (You know the three important ingredients to cook southern foods. Thai has that too, cilantro root, garlic, pepper) Also add soy sauce and may be oyster sauce. It would make your Gai Yang smell so much closer to the Thai street side Gai Yang.

    Let me know if you need a recipe of “Nam Jim Jaew” or the dark spicy, salty and sour dipping sauce with roasted rice. I just posted recipe of sticky rice and mango. You can find out how to cook sticky rice there. The street side Gai Yang usually sell sticky rice with the chicken and we normally don’t eat this with regular steam jasmine rice (You make me wonder why, I have a mission to find that out now :))

    1. savory65 Post author

      Thank you for your nice comments! I admire your blog, and appreciate your suggestions. I do want my Gai Yang dish to be authentic, so I’ll follow your advice next time I make it – I’ll leave out the garlic and won’t use galangal. I’ll instead use the white pepper, soy sauce and some oyster sauce for sweetness. These changes sound good, and yes, please pass on the recipe for Nam Jim Jaew.

      Regarding the sticky rice, I learned how to make it in a cooking class in Chiang Mai (and I have the proper Thai equipment to make it), but I have yet to master it. I’ll practice over the weekend. Thanks again!

  2. The High Heel Gourmet

    Oh no garlic is a MUST! Thai people rarely eat food without garlic. Just eliminate the ginger.

    One Gai Yang place in Nakornnayok has a good Gai Yang that I want to get the recipe but they won’t give it to me. I ate there and peek at their marinade (They put about 20-25 Kilo of chicken in a big basin which normally used in Thailand for laundry). The owner probably sick of me going so often and want to get their recipe sort of showing me what did they marinade the chicken with, garlic, oyster sauce and sriracha (the Thai brand not the single chicken with green tip that wasn’t made in Thailand)…That’s it?!?! but a ton of garlic. I think for those over 50lb. of chicken they put at least alb. of garlic.

    Nam Jim Jaew is tamarind paste, Fish sauce, roasted rice, dried chili flake, palm sugar (just a pinch you can substitute with brown sugar) lime juice, cilantro, green onion, tomatoes and culantro ( Put them in a plastic bag all together and mush them. Taste it and adjust it to your personal preference.

    If you want the sweet sticky red nam jim gai, it’s only sugar (a lot of them) vinegar, salt, fresh red chili chopped and of course garlic. This one require cooking on the stove until you get the desire thickness.

    1. savory65 Post author

      Thank you for your response. Your nam jim jaew recipe sounds great. I have all the ingredients at hand. and will make it this weekend!


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