Enjoy the Thai street food experience with Gai Yang Thai grilled chicken. Bursting with authentic flavors from Isaan cuisine, this delightful dish is a favorite among Thai food enthusiasts. Learn the key ingredients, cooking methods, and garnishing options to create the perfect authentic Thai Gai Yang.
- Why You'll Love This Thai grilled chicken Recipe
- What does Gai Yang taste like?
- What is Thai Gai Yang (Grilled BBQ Chicken)?
- Gai Yang, THE ultimate Thai street food
- Ingredients for Thai Gai Yang
- How to Make Thai Gai Yang
- Garnishing Options
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- What to Serve With Thai Gai Yang
- More Thai recipes you'll love
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Gai Yang Thai Grilled Chicken
Get ready to embark on a culinary journey to the streets of Thailand and savor the taste of this tender and juicy grilled chicken!
Why You'll Love This Thai grilled chicken Recipe
- Delicious flavors! With its succulent and juicy meat infused with the mouthwatering marinade, Thai Gai Yang offers a burst of delectable sweet, savory, and tangy notes that will leave you craving more.
- Perfect for a BBQ. Whether you're hosting a barbecue party or want to savor the taste of Thailand at home, this Gai Yang recipe is the ultimate choice. So, fire up your grill, follow the easy steps, and get ready to experience the magic of Thai Gai Yang.
- Great for meal prep. Looking for a recipe that is healthy but still tasty? This is the recipe for you. Make it healthy by substituting sugar for monk fruit sugar, agave, or honey for less processed sugar.
What does Gai Yang taste like?
Thai Gai Yang celebrates rich flavors and enticing aromas that captivate your taste buds. Combining a succulent whole chicken and a mouthwatering marinade made with a medley of Thai sauces and aromatic herbs creates a delightful burst of sweet, savory, and tangy notes.
Whether you're a fan of Thai cuisine or just looking for a scrumptious chicken recipe, Thai Gai Yang is the ultimate dish to add to your culinary repertoire.
What is Thai Gai Yang (Grilled BBQ Chicken)?
Gai Yang, also called Kai yang or Ping Gai, is a popular Thai grilled chicken dish from the Isaan region in the Northeast of Thailand. A Thai word for "gai" means chicken, and "yang" refers to grilling. The magic of this dish lies in its flavorful marinade, featuring a blend of fish sauce, sugar, dark soy sauce, and aromatic spices. This marinade infuses the chicken with a delectable combination of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors.
Gai Yang, THE ultimate Thai street food
Gai Yang, the ultimate Thai street food, is a mouthwatering delight found on the bustling streets of Thailand. It is commonly prepared on street carts, where skilled cooks work their magic over a charcoal fire. The hot coals burn slowly, turning into gray ash, while the open bottom vents of the grill ensure steady airflow. The chicken is expertly placed on the set cooking grate, producing juicy and tender meat with a deliciously crisp skin. The smoky aroma fills the air as the chicken cooks, enticing passersby with its irresistible fragrance.
To top it all off, the dish is generously seasoned with loads of garlic, adding a flavor that makes Gai Yang an authentic street food sensation.
Ingredients for Thai Gai Yang
To recreate the authentic Thai Gai Yang, gather the following items for this authentic Gai Yang recipe. Most of these ingredients can be found at your local Asian grocery stores.
- Whole chicken. Find whole chicken, then cut it into individual pieces. I used an entire chicken for this recipe but feel free to pick your favorite cuts with skin and bones still on.
- Sugar. Palm or brown sugar works great. For authentic flavor, use palm sugar. I used
- Oyster sauce. This is where the umami flavors come from.
- Fish sauce. The fish sauce perfectly balances Thai saltiness and umami with Gai Yang marinade.
- Soy sauce. Dark sweet soy sauce will work as a substitute but will be sweeter than regular soy sauce. Learn more about Thai soy sauces in this helpful blog post here.
- Lemongrass. Lemongrass is essential. It adds a citrusy note to the marinade. Learn more about classic Thai ingredients used extensively in Thai cooking.
- Cilantro roots or stems. If you can find cilantro roots, use them! If not, use cilantro stems, the lowest and largest parts possible. Learn more about Thai herbs here.
- White peppercorns, ground into powder if using whole peppercorns. Black pepper is fine as a substitute. Learn more about Thai spices here.
- Salt. Salt, cilantro roots, and white peppercorn are what make a Thai dish authentic and flavorful. They work as a marinating paste for many Thai dishes including this iconic dish.
- Coriander powder. If coriander seeds are available, use them but grind to powder first before mixing in the marinade.
- Turmeric powder. Turmeric adds a lovely natural yellow color to the chicken. Just a tiny bit goes a long way.
- Fresh Garlic. This recipe uses lots of garlic for the extra aroma and flavors.
- Cooking oil. Use neutral oil like vegetable, canola, or avocado oil. The oil is used in the marinade and for brushing the chicken to keep the meat moist and prevent burning.
- Water. Just a little bit to keep the marinade from being too thick.
How to Make Thai Gai Yang
Follow these steps to create a tantalizing Thai Gai Yang dish. I used a gas grill for my Gai Yang. Charcoal or electric grill will work just as well. Ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked using an instant red thermometer, no matter what type of grill you use.
Step 1. Prepare the Marinade. In a spice grinder or small food processor, combine coriander roots, garlic, oil, lemongrass, and 1 tablespoon of oil and fish sauce with helping turn the blades. Grind them into a smooth paste.
Step 2. Mix the paste with fish sauce, white peppercorns, turmeric powder, sugar, the rest of the sauces, and oil in a small bowl. Stir until the sauce is well blended.
Step 3. Prepare the chicken. Wash the chicken with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, place in a large pan or Ziploc bag, and get ready to marinate the meat.
Step 4. Marinate the chicken. Coat the chicken pieces evenly with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator. If using a ziplock bag, shake the chicken lightly to get all the pieces covered in the marinating sauce. Marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours or overnight for best results. This allows the flavors to infuse into the meat.
Step 5. Grill the Chicken. Preheat your grill to medium-low heat. Place the chicken pieces on the cooking grate, skin side down, and grill for 10-15 minutes or until grill marks form. Use oil and the reserved marinade to brush on the chicken while grilling. Flip the chicken and continue grilling until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C) using a meat thermometer. The grilling could take up to 45 minutes.
Step 6. The larger pieces will take longer to cook than the wings and drumsticks. Move the smaller pieces from indirect cooking heat while the chicken finishes cooking.Remove the chicken from the grill and place it on a serving platter with your favorite dipping sauce!
Serve the grilled Gai Yang chicken with a delicious dipping sauce like this sweet Thai chili dipping sauce, Nam Jim Jaeow, and a side of sticky rice, Thai papaya salad, or a more sassy Lao green papaya salad. Add a squeeze of lime juice to the chicken pieces if you like a bit of tanginess.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- For extra freshness and flavor, use whole white peppercorns and coriander seeds. For added flavors, dry toast them in a small pan on medium heat until fragrant, then ground into coarse powder form.
- When cooking chicken this way, with a whole chicken, the bigger pieces of chicken will take longer to cook than the small pieces. Move the cooked small pieces to the cool side of the grill with indirect heat while grilling the large pieces on the hotter side. You can also use aluminum foil to loosely wrap the smaller pieces until the other large pieces are done.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to gauge the meat. You'll want the temperature to read at 165 for the inner thicker part of the chicken breast.
- Place a wire rack over a baking sheet to cool the grilled chicken. The air flowing from the rack keeps the crispy chicken skin crispy longer.
- Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels before marinating for crispier skin.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for This Recipe
- A spice grinder. I love this set. There are two in one set. I use one for grinding spices and the other for coffee, so I don't mix the flavors and tastes.
- A small food processor for blending the marinade ingredients.
- Wire rack for cooling the grilled chicken.
- A sturdy cutting board for chopping your chicken into smaller pieces for serving.
- Instant-read thermometer to check the chicken's internal temperature.
What to Serve With Thai Gai Yang
Gai Yang can be served with a spicy sauce or Nam Jim Gai, a Thai sweet chili sauce. Traditionally, Thai Gai Yang is served with sticky rice and a side of Thai papaya salad, also known as Som Tum (or Som Tam) or Green Papaya Salad. The combination perfectly balances flavors and textures, making for a delightful meal. But eating it with plain rice or coconut rice work excellently too.
- Experiment with different meats like boneless chicken thighs, pork, or shrimp to create variations of this grilled dish. Adjust the cooking time accordingly for different meats.
- Cornish hens, turkey meat, or other poultry works well for this Thai chicken recipe. Use meat with bones and skin on it for the best-tasting flavors.
- Use curry powder at a 1-1 ratio if turmeric is unavailable.
- Use sweet dark soy sauce or dark soy sauce instead of soy sauce for extra sweetness and a nice golden brown color added to the chicken.
- Chicken thighs and drumsticks are great substitutes if your whole chicken is not an option.
Store any leftover Thai Gai Yang in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It makes for delicious leftovers or a great addition to salads and sandwiches.
More Thai recipes you'll love
- Moo ping classic pork skewers marinated in aromatic herbs, Thai spices, and coconut milk.
- Chicken satay is one of the blog's favorite grilled chicken recipes on bamboo skewers.
- Grilled bacon-wrapped Enoki mushroom. A family recipe from my hometown in Surin, Thailand
Frequently Asked Questions
Isaan cuisine is a regional cuisine from northeastern Thailand, known for its bold and vibrant flavors. It's known for sticky rice, spicy chili-based salads, and grilled meats like Gai Yang.
Absolutely! Baking Gai yang is an excellent cooking method for those living in cold temperature zones. Check out my oven-baked Thai lemongrass chicken recipe with Gai Yang flavors here.
Yes, you can use an air fryer to cook Gai Yang chicken. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (200°C) and cook the marinated chicken pieces in batches until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C).
While Thai Gai Yang is not typically very spicy, you can adjust the heat level to your preference by adding more or less chili flakes and peppercorns to the marinade.
Yes, grilling Gai Yang on a charcoal grill imparts a smoky flavor to the chicken and enhances its overall taste. Make sure the charcoal is ashed over before placing the chicken on the cooking grate.
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