Thai Style Grilled Chicken | Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

I love sharing my table with friends and family. Enjoying the day to prep, slowly roasting, grilling or braising something mouthwatering with the anticipation of delighting others taste buds.

Although let’s be clear not everything I’ve made is amazing, but that also becomes half the fun. Why didn’t it work and how can I make it better? I have a group of friends who have agreed to be honest about the dishes I serve, so I can make adjustments before posting recipes. My inspiration often comes from a recipe, image, or memory, I’ve come across, and I start to personalize it from there.

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I try to create a balanced dish that is well seasoned. Food that is too salty can be inedible, and food not seasoned well enough is bland and unmemorable. Ah, but when you come across a savory dish that is perfectly seasoned, your mouth starts to water, you have to have more and you experience the real meaning of Umami.

I came across this recipe for Thai Style Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang) with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, from Chef J. Kenji López-Alt and made a few adjustments and served with Grilled Thai Zucchini and Crispy Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Thai Ketchup for a Thai Street Food Dinner Party.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves, Kosher salt and a small amount of the palm or brown sugar into a paste. Combine garlic paste, cilantro, remaining sugar, white pepper, coriander, fish sauce, dark and regular soy sauce, ginger and lemongrass in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a rough paste is formed. Set aside.

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Place the chicken into a casserole dish, large enough to fit. Rub with the marinade on all surfaces, front and back. Cover and place into the refrigerator, and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. It’s up to you if you want to spatchcock the chicken (remove the backbone and flatten) and leave it whole or cut it in half.

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After marinating, place chicken halves on a cutting board and insert two metal skewers into each chicken half, running parallel through the legs and the breasts. Rest at room temp 30 minutes to remove the chill. Using the skewers is not necessary but it makes the chicken easier to handle and also give it the authentic look of street food.

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When ready to cook, preheat the grill on high, clean and oil the grill. When it’s hot, turn off half the burners and place the chicken skin-side up on the cooler side of grill for indirect cooking. I used my Weber Q grill, which I absolutely love. It has a dome grill which allows me to roast and has two burners one across the center and one all the way around the grill. This configuration, makes setting up the heat for indirect cooking a breeze.

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Cover the grill and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into deepest part of breast registers 140°F, about 45 minutes. Flip the chicken, skin-side-down on hotter side of grill, cover and cook until the skin is crisp and an instant read thermometer inserted into deepest part of breast registers 145 to 150°F, about 3 minutes longer, carefully as the skin is very prone to burning. If the chicken starts to burn, slide it back to the cooler side of the grill. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

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Meanwhile grill the Kumquats, until lightly charred on both sides.

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Carve the chicken by separating the legs and thighs, the wings and breasts and finally cut each breast in two and serve with grilled kumquats and dipping sauce.

A quick note about the dipping sauce, I was not able to find 6-8 red Thai bird chilies on Kauai at the time so I used Hawaiian red chilies which are much hotter. I love spicy food but not everybody does, so I encourage you to add a couple of chilies at a time and see how it goes. Also keep in mind that the longer the sauce sits, the spicier it becomes.

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Thai Style Grilled Chicken | Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

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Ingredients

Thai Style Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang)

  • 6 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon, grated ginger
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt, plus extra
  • A handful of cilantro, including leaves and thick stalks
  • 3 tablespoons palm or light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons regular soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 stocks, lemongrass
  • 1 whole chicken, spine removed, split in half along the breast bone
  • 68 Kumquats, halved and seeded

Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

  • 68 red Thai bird chilies, finely minced (more or less to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup palm or light brown sugar sugar
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Instructions

Thai Style Grilled Chicken

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves, Kosher salt and a small amount of the palm or brown sugar into a paste.
  2. Combine garlic paste, cilantro, remaining sugar, white pepper, coriander, fish sauce, dark and regular soy sauce, ginger and lemongrass in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a rough paste is formed. Set aside.
  3. Place the chicken into a casserole dish, large enough to fit. Rub with the marinade on all surfaces, front and back. Cover and place into the refrigerator, and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  4. After marinating, place chicken halves on a cutting board and insert two metal skewers into each chicken half, running parallel through the legs and the breasts. Rest at room temp 30 minutes to remove the chill. Salt both sides lightly with Kosher salt.
  5. When ready to cook, preheat the grill on high, clean and oil the grill. When it’s hot, turn off half the burners and place the chicken skin-side up on the cooler side of grill for indirect cooking.
  6. Cover the grill and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into deepest part of breast registers 140°F, about 45 minutes. Flip the chicken, skin-side-down on hotter side of grill, cover and cook until the skin is crisp and an instant read thermometer inserted into deepest part of breast registers 145 to 150°F, about 3 minutes longer, carefully as the skin is very prone to burning. If the chicken starts to burn, slide it back to the cooler side of the grill. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile grill the Kumquats, until lightly charred on both sides.
  8. Carve the chicken by separating the legs and thighs, the wings and breasts and finally cut each breast in two and serve with grilled kumquats and dipping sauce.

Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sealable container. Shake well, set aside, and allow sugar to dissolve, shaking every 10 minutes or so. When sugar is fully dissolved, store in refrigerator until ready to use. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Notes

Use gloves while chopping chilies and carefully scrub cutting board when finished.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4-6