Gai Yang: Grilled Chicken

This is the basic recipe for a dish that allows great variation. Some cooks add a large pinch of powdered turmeric to the paste; others[ add some fresh lemongrass or a little black pepper. To my mind, the best version comes from a village called Si Saket, in the north-east of Thailand.]

Total Time:
35 min
5 min
30 min

4 servings

  • Chicken:
  • 3 coriander roots, scraped and chopped
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • 2 small chickens, about 12 ounces- Poussin or Cornish game hens
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Large pinch palm sugar
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup scraped and chopped coriander root
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup long red chiles, deseeded if desired
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Using a pestle and mortar, pound coriander roots, salt, garlic, and peppercorns into a fine paste. Cut chicken in half along the breastbone. Flatten out, wash and dry. Work in the paste, fish sauce and sugar and leave to marinate for a few hours.

  • For the sweet chili sauce, pound coriander root, salt, garlic and chiles into a paste. Combine vinegar, sugar, water, and salt in a pot and bring to the boil. Add paste and stir to dissolve. Simmer sauce until reduced by half, skimming as necessary, then set aside to cool.

  • Chargrill chicken for about 15-20 minutes, turning regularly. Serve with a bowl of the sauce.

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