Grilled chicken is insanely popular in Thailand. There are stalls selling it all across the country from the Andaman Coast to the Lao border, all slightly different, all equally delicious, and everyone has their favourites. While I love SP Chicken in Chiang Mai and Gai
Yang Rabeab in Khon Kaen, my favourite is Khun Tee’s roadside stall in Chiang Dao, which is – as the Michelin Guide would say – worth a detour. Khun Tee brines his chicken prior to grilling. I’ve done my best to replicate it here. I also include a marinade. If you brine the chicken, use the marinade as a baste while you’re cooking. Otherwise, marinate the chicken for at least one hour, ideally six.
- 1 x 1.5-kg/3 lb 5-oz chicken, spatchcocked
For the brine
- 3 litres/5 pints/13 cups water
- 1 tsp white peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
- 3–4 large garlic cloves
- 125 g/41⁄2 oz/1⁄2 cup salt
- 50 g/13⁄4 oz/1⁄4 cup caster (superfine) sugar
For the marinade
- 4–6 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp white peppercorns
- 4 coriander (cilantro) roots
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- a splash of vegetable oil
- a good pinch of salt
- To make the brine, combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure that the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Immerse the chicken in the brine for a good 6 hours. Then remove it and pat dry before cooking.
- To make the marinade, pound the garlic, peppercorns and coriander root together in a pestle and mortar until you have a paste.
- Then stir in the remaining ingredients until they’re well combined.
- If you are not brining the chicken, rub all the marinade on to it and leave for as long as you can. If you have brined the chicken, reserve the marinade to baste the chicken as it cooks.
- To cook, barbecue (grill) the chicken to the side of banked coals, turning from time to
- time, until cooked through and the juices run clear. This should take 45 minutes–1 hour, depending on the chicken and the barbecue.
- Alternatively, roast the chicken in an oven preheated to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for about 45 minutes, again until cooked through and the juices run clear.
- Serve with sticky rice, Som Tum Thai (Green Papaya Salad), Tum Tang Kwa
- (Pounded Cucumber Salad) or Soop Nor Mai (Pickled Bamboo-shoot Salad), and with the Nam Jim Jaew (Roasted Chilli Dipping Sauce) of your choice.
A recipe from Baan: Recipes and Stories from My Thai Home by Kay Plunkett-Hogge (Pavilion Books). Buy the book here.