Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thai Street Chicken

I had a party to go to on the 4th of July and I was asked to bring a dish to share. I love to cook for people but I really can’t stand cooking for picky people and I am not one who is looking to “please a crowd” when I’m cooking. I am what you would call a “selfish chef.” I like to cook things that make me happy. I’m the one cooking, so damn right I should!

Anyway, I had to ask mom for advice because I really didn’t know what to make that would satisfy most of the people at the party. She suggested this recipe for Thai Street Chicken (Gai Yahng). It is SO good that the only people it wouldn’t please are those on a meatless diet. I was nervous to try it after looking at the ingredients but my mom is an expert (really, she used to be a chef!) and since when should a recipe with three ingredients intimidate me!?

The actual marinade for the chicken is three ingredients. The overall “dish” consists of grilled chicken marinated in a cilantro “pesto” and a sweet-hot garlic sauce to go with it. You can serve it over rice but I wanted it to be a simple finger food so I diced up the chicken for easy dipping into the sauce. I made a big batch to have for lunch the following week and ate it with some steamed green beans!

Cilantro Pesto
Yields about ½ cup
2 tsp whole white or black peppercorns (I used black)
4 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
4 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic

Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, crush or grind the peppercorns. The original recipe calls for them to be crushed into a fine powder but I left the pieces still a bit coarse. Add the cilantro and garlic and work the ingredients into a paste. At this point, you can put them in a food processor but I continued with the mortar and pestle. If you use a food processor, you might need to add a little vegetable oil or water to help with grinding.

Sweet-Hot Garlic Sauce
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup white vinegar
2 tbsp finely minced garlic (I used a garlic press)
1tsp salt
1 tbsp chili-garlic sauce

In a saucepan combine sugar, water, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until liquid reduces slightly and thickens to a light syrup about 20 minutes. Remove from the stove and stir in garlic-chili sauce. Cool to room temp. Store at room temp for 2-3 days.

Thai Street Chicken
2.5 lbs chicken breasts, thawed (I bought a bag of frozen chicken from Target and thawed it out)
½ cup cilantro pesto
4 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
Sweet-Hot Garlic Sauce

In a deep mixing bowl large enough to hold the chicken, combine the pesto, soy sauce, and salt. Add the chicken and coat well with the marinade. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours, turning occasionally to season each piece evenly.

Prepare your grill (I used a grill pan) on high heat. Arrange the chicken on the grill and cook 10 to 20 minutes (every grill or grill pan is different), turning occasionally to brown and cook evenly. When the chicken is done, allow it to rest for a few minutes before chopping into bite-sized pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature with the sauce.

*The original recipe uses a whole, small free-range chicken that is grilled for 45 minutes to an hour on high heat. I haven’t tried this but it’s the authentic way to do it and I’m sure it’s amazing!

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