Bring the flavour, aroma and kick-ass foodie delights of Thailand’s BBQ street food with this super delicious Gai Yang recipe!
1kg boneless chicken thighs (or thighs – see notes)
Fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), lime wedges and sliced red chilli for garnish (optional)
For the Marinade:
4 tbsp soy sauce (or Tamari for GF substitute)
20 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 lemon grass stalks, thinly sliced (just the beige-white parts)
1 tbsp fish sauce
30g palm sugar
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 to 4 coriander roots, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
If using a food processor/ blender: Place all the marinade ingredients, along with ¼ cup of water, into your food processor and pulse until a chunky, pesto-like paste is formed
If using a pestle and mortar: Add the lemongrass slices to the mortar and begin to crush with the pestle. Slow add the garlic cloves, a few at a time to make it easier, followed by the coriander roots and peppercorns. Add the remaining ingredients, along with a few tablespoons of water, and continue to crush and grind untila thick and chunky paste – similar in consistency to pesto – is reached.
The Gai Yang Chicken:
In a large bowl combine the chicken with the marinade. Turn to evenly coat. Cover with plastic wrap (you could also use a large zip-lock bag or an airtight container) and leave in the refrigerator to marinade – a few hours will be fine but for the best, kick-ass results, overnight is highly recommended.
An hour before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator – this helps for even cooking.
Cook the chicken on your BBQ or grill, basting frequently with the remaining marinade, until the chicken is lightly charred and cooked through (the cook time will depend on the heat of your BBQ and the size of the chicken thighs/ breasts, but 3 to five minutes on each side should be plenty).
Remove from the BBQ and allow to rest for fifteen minutes before serving.
Instead of chicken thighs you could easily use chicken breasts. Or you could use diced chicken and turn this recipe into Gai Yang skewers. Alternatively, the recipe I adapted for this post used whole, deboned chickens. It really depends on what you have available or how adventurous you’re feeling!
If you don’t have a BBQ/ grill, or the weather outside isn’t suiting your barbequing needs, the chicken can be cooked in the oven, preheated to 180°C, for about 30 minutes (although this time will depend on the size of you chicken thighs/ breast), basting with the left over marinade every ten or so minutes. You can even finish the chicken off under the broiler (grill) for a few minutes to get that charred, BBQ-like finish.