Thai grilled chicken
- May/June 2020
- Serves 4-6
- Hands-on time 15 min, barbecuing/roasting time 1-1/4 hours, plus at least 6 hours brining
Forget pad Thai – grilled chicken with green papaya salad (som tum) and sticky rice is the ultimate Thai street food. The best grilled chicken comes from Khun Toi’s stall in Chiang Dao, in northwest Thailand, but he’ll never part with his recipe – and rightly so.
Try the spatchcock method of cooking chicken and you’ll struggle to serve it any other way!
Note: you’ll need to brine the chicken in this recipe for at least 6 hours before starting to cook it.
- 8.6g (2g saturated)
- 4.2g (3.6g sugars)
- 1.6kg free-range chicken, spatchcocked (see Know-how)
- Sticky rice, handful fresh coriander sprigs and lime wedges to serve (optional)
For the brine
- 1 tsp white peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
- 4 large garlic cloves, bashed with a rolling pin or the flat of knife
- 125g salt
- 50g caster sugar
For the baste
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp white peppercorns, crushed with a rolling pin/flat of a knife
- 4 coriander roots, roughly chopped (see Know-how)
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- Splash vegetable oil
You’ll also need…
- Pestle and mortar or mini blender
- For the brine, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl with 3 litres cold water, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the chicken, cover, then leave in the fridge for 6 hours (see How to Master Grilling, left). Remove the chicken and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- To make the baste, pound the garlic, peppercorns and coriander roots to a paste in a pestle and mortar (or use a mini-blender). Stir in the remaining ingredients with a good pinch of salt to combine well.
- To barbecue the chicken, light the coals and arrange them in a bank under one side of the grill rack. Once they’re glowing white hot, set the chicken away from the banked coals and grill for 1-1 and 1⁄4 hours, turning and basting from time to time, until cooked through and the juices run clear when you push a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh or breast. (Alternatively, to roast the chicken, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6, then roast in a tin for 1-1 and 1⁄4 hours until cooked through and the juices run clear.)
- To serve, cut the chicken into portions, then serve with sticky rice and fresh coriander, with lime squeezed over, if you like.
How to master Thai-style grilling
You can oven roast the chicken (see tip), but nothing makes this taste better than grilling it over charcoal. The smell of the chicken cooking is guaranteed to pique your appetite.
Get the flavour right
The brine is the key, pulling flavour into the bird. You want to do this for at least 6 hours or overnight.
How to serve and eat it
Cut the chicken into portions, then serve with sticky rice and fresh coriander, with lime squeezed over, if you like.
You could use light muscovado sugar instead of palm sugar.
Coriander root is used in many Thai and Asian recipes. Its flavour is more earthy and celery- like than that of the leaves. Find it in Asian grocers or order online via Thai Food Online. If you can’t find it, use coriander stalks.
If you’re oven-roasting the chicken, start it off in a hot griddle pan or under a grill to re-create the charring from a barbecue.
You need to start brining the chicken at least 6 hours before you want to cook it.
To spatchcock a kitchen, either ask your butcher for tips on how to do this for you, or click here for our handy guide.
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