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Thai Barbecue Chicken, 'Gai Yang'

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Gai yang translates to "barbecued (or grilled) chicken", and can be prepared in many different ways. There are pictures below shared by visitors to this website, as well as our own version, and Thai street vendor versions. Perhaps the most famous version is sold by vendors in the seaside community of Bang Saen, where the bird is cut open along the belly, flattened with a few blows from the back of a cleaver, and pegged with a stick to hold it, then marinaded and grilled over charcoal.

We're most impressed with Bangsaen-style gai yang, where the vendors display distinctive yellow (turmeric-infused) chicken that's already been cooked, and they finish each order with a few minutes on their distinctive grills. The meat is flat and relatively thin, so we use thin-cut skinless breasts in our recipe. After some experimentation and advice from a very good Thai chef known for famous gai yang, we've created a version that starts off in the oven, and we know you'll love it. We also provide a recipe for traditional Thai bbq chicken (gai yang boran).

Thai chickens tend to be small, and tasty. When making traditional gai yang, you can use a 2 pound chicken, or cornish game hens, or other small poultry. Modify the marinade to suit your preference. Some chefs would omit the ginger, others add more garlic, etc. If you choose to use satay powder, it will give your gai yang a special "signature" flavor that no other can match--we highly recommend it.

Bang Saen Beach-style Gai Yang, Marinade

1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large cloves garlic
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon lemongrass powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons thin soy sauce
1 tablespoon coconut milk

Bang Saen Beach-style Gai Yang, Method

You will need about 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast, preferably thin-cut. In a mortar and pestle, pound peppercorns into a powder. Add salt and garlic, then pound until it turns into a smooth paste. Add coriander, lemongrass, turmeric and sugar, pound together until well blended. Transfer to a large mixing bowl then add oyster sauce, thin soy sauce and coconut milk stir until smooth. Put chicken in the marinade mixture and knead (put gloves or your hands will turn yellow) to make sure the marinade gets all over the chicken. Cover and let it marinade overnight in the fridge.

Bake your chicken directly on a lightly-oiled oven rack, at 375 F. Lay some foil on the bottom of the rack to catch drippings. Bake for 30-35 minutes. At this point you can enjoy the chicken as it is, or let it cool down a bit then re-cook on a bbq grill over charcoal for a few minutes to finish it. Serve with sticky rice and sweet chili sauce for chicken as dipping. Enjoy!

Traditional Gai Yang, Marinade

1/2 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup sweet dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of freshly ground ginger root
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
5 (ore more) cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 sprigs parsley
Fresh limes, halved
1-2 tablespoons satay powder (optional)

Marinade the poultry for an hour or more (overnight), the longer the better.

Traditional Gai Yang, Method

Wash the chicken and rub it with fresh limes. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken, mix well and marinade.

Barbeque over charcoal or broil until cooked and the skin is crispy brown.

This is best served with Thai sticky rice, and sweet chile sauce. You should also put some more fresh ground ginger on the table and the usual Thai condiments (we particularly like chilis marinated in sweet dark soy sauce with this one). You can also serve it with a simple green salad.

Thai Street Vendor Video

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Comments

Anonymous
June 5th, 2013
11:07 AM
What is the longest time you would let the chicken marinade for... is 24 hours too long?
Anonymous
June 22nd, 2013
11:11 AM
I've marinated chicken breast strips for 18 hours, and they came out great
Anonymous
November 2nd, 2013
9:37 PM
I made the Gai Yang and it was an absolute hit! Thanks.

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