Antelope Valley Press - AV Living (Antelope Valley)

A Thai take on a summer favorite

- WRITTEN BY Wheeler Cowperthwa­ite | Special to the Valley Press

Summertime, and the living is hot, which means cooking indoors is a pain, but there is a solution: The grill. I love grills for a multitude of reasons. They can be quick, they are outdoors, they produce tasty meals and in the summer, cooking inside is far too miserable.

That’s where a new take on grilled chicken comes in — specifical­ly, it is a Thai take on the humble hunk of chicken meat.

Gai yang, also called kai yang or ping gai, or simply Thai grilled chicken, brings together some of the most prominent flavors in the west: Lime, cilantro, garlic and chiles.

The flavors mix, meld and create something worth adding to the regular staple of meat marinades.

Recently, I was lucky enough to make a return trip to Thailand just on the cusp of the current pandemic. That meant tourism was down and the streets were not nearly as packed as I have seen them in travels past. Although there were fewer people, there were still plenty of street food vendors with small grills and bags of marinating meat.

Many of the grilled food items had two common ingredient­s: Lime and chiles. There is a third ingredient, which smells awful, but really adds a savory, or unami taste: Fish sauce. I swear by it in most marinades, where it adds a saltiness and depth of flavor not offered by soy sauce.

It’s an ingredient that’s in plenty of Thai cuisine, but its influence melds into the background, becoming indistingu­ishable on the palate, except for a sparkle.

Really, gai yang is not that different from a regular citrus marinade, with the exception of fish sauce, as it contains cilantro, garlic, lemon and lime.

The original marinade recipe I used calls for chopped lemongrass and cilantro roots. I know finding cilantro with the root still on it is hit or miss, and lemongrass is hard to find, so I’ve substitute­d lemon rind.

Making the marinade requires a food processor or blender and the chicken should sit for at least three hours, if not overnight.

I serve this chicken with some rice and green chile roasted on the grill.

Serves 2 to 6

chicken, prepare the marinade and place the chicken in it.

• In a blender or food processor, combine the marinade ingredient­s. Blend for 2-3 minutes, until everything is well combined. Everything should already be chopped.

• Combine the chicken and the marinade in a container, bowl or Ziplock bag and refrigerat­e for at least three hours. Overnight is preferable.

• While the chicken is marinating, combine all of the sauce ingredient­s in the food processor or blender and mix until well combined. Remove to a separate container for serving and refrigerat­e until ready to serve.

• Grill the chicken over medium to medium-high heat until done. Chicken thighs take longer than breasts and bone-in takes longer

than boneless. If the chicken is bone-in, cook over medium heat. Add a little of the marinade to the chicken while it cooks.

• While the chicken is grilling, add the green chiles, cut lengthwise, to the grill and cook until the skin is well blistered.

• Once the chicken is done, remove from the grill and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes.

• Ser ve with rice and the sauce you previously made in the blender/food processor and the roasted chiles.

• Garnish the plates with the chopped cilantro.

Barbecue chicken sauce recipe from Practical Thai Cooking by Puangkram Schmitz and Michael Worman

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