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Grilled Coriander and Garlic Chicken

gai yang

© by Maureen M. Evans


Serves 4

  • White Peppercorns 1 tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Cilantro Root or Stem chopped, 2 Tbs
  • Garlic chopped, 3 Tbs
  • Palm or Brown Sugar 1 Tbs
  • Ground Turmeric ½ tsp
  • Ground Coriander ½ tsp
  • Fish Sauce 3 Tbs
  • Vegetable Oil 1 Tbs
  • Chicken or Poussin 1 small, about 450 g
  • Sweet Fish Sauce 2 Tbs (recipe below)
  1. Pound the white peppercorns and salt in a pestle and mortar to a fine powder, then add the coriander root and garlic and pound to a smooth paste. Add the sugar, turmeric, ground coriander, fish sauce and oil, and mix until combined and smooth.
  2. Using a pair of heavy-duty scissors, cut the chicken along the backbone to butterfly the bird. Place the chicken, breast-side up, on a cutting board. Gently, but with some authority, press down on the chicken using the palm of your hand so that the chicken becomes flattened. This will allow it to cook evenly on your charcoal grill.
  3. Rub the marinade all over the chicken, coating it thoroughly, then leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to cook, prepare a charcoal grill, then cook the chicken over a medium heat for 15–20 minutes until cooked through. To do this, start by placing the exposed cavity side of the chicken on the grill and leave for two-thirds of the cooking time; the bones will protect the delicate white flesh from overcooking and becoming dry. Flip the chicken over so that it’s breast-side down, and cook for the final one-third of the cooking time to colour the skin a golden brown. Leave the chicken to rest in a warm spot for 5 minutes.
  5. Before serving, use a pastry brush to liberally glaze the chicken with the Sweet Fish Sauce. Transfer to a cutting board and carve into pieces. I would suggest halving the chicken down the middle of the breastbone and removing the legs, then separating the legs and thighs through the joint. Remove the smaller drumsticks and wings, then cut the breast through the bone into 2–3 pieces.

Sweet Fish Sauce
nahm pla waan

  • Palm or Brown Sugar 250 g
  • Water 2 Tbs
  • Shrimp Paste ¼ tsp
  • Fish Sauce 3 Tbs
  • Cassia Bark 2.5 cm piece, toasted
  • Star Anise 1, toasted
  • Dried Bird’s Eye Chillies 2, toasted
  • Dried Shrimp 1 Tbs
  • Fried Shallots1 1 Tbs
  • Fried Garlic1 1 Tbs
  1. Heat the palm sugar and water together in a large saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the shrimp paste, fish sauce, cassia bark, star anise and dried chillies, then bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Test the consistency by spreading a small amount on a plate and chilling it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. The desirable consistency should be tacky and sticky but not too firm. Simmer for longer, or add water as necessary to achieve the right consistency.
  2. Stir through the dried shrimp, fried shallots and fried garlic, then transfer to a container and leave to infuse for at least 2 hours before using (I prefer to leave the sauce to infuse for 24 hours for a better flavour). This recipe will make more than required but the sauce will keep indefinitely in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before using to allow the caramel to come to room temperature, or warm gently in a pan to a pouring consistency.

1 Fried shallots and fried garlic can be purchased from an Asian supermarket or online. If you prefer to make your own, find John Chantarasak’s recipe here.

Recipes reprinted (adapted slightly) from Kin Thai: Modern Thai recipes to cook at home by John Chantarasak (C) 2022 Reproduced by permission of Hardie Grant. All rights reserved.

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