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Gai Yaang (Thai BBQ Chicken)
Gai Yaang (Thai BBQ Chicken) pictures (1 of 4)

July 4th is two days away and I am sure you are busy finalizing your party menu. If you are looking for a new recipe idea to impress your guests, I have got you covered with this guest post by my dear friend Chef Robert Danhi—Gai Yaang or Thai BBQ Chicken Wings recipe. Chef Danhi is my cookbook colleague as he is currently working on his second cookbook, Easy Thai Cooking by Tuttle (my publisher). This Sunday also marks the 4th anniversary of Rasa Malaysia, so to all my American readers, have a great 4th and Happy Independence Day, and Happy 4th Birthday to Rasa Malaysia!

July 4th is all about grilling and each year I like to try something new. This year I am in the midst of writing my second book Easy Thai Cooking (Tuttle, November 2011) and the flavors of Thailand fill my test kitchen. If you are still undecided about what to make this July 4th weekend, I recommend trying out Gai Yaang or Thai BBQ Chicken Wings with a sweet-and-spicy chili glaze.

Like American French fries scream out to be dipped in ketchup, grilled chicken of Thailand yearns for Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. Traveling through the streets of Thailand, especially in the northeast area of Issan, grilling chicken (Gai Yaang) is a common sight. Charcoal fired grills release aromatic smoke and imbue the marinated chicken with a welcome layer of smoky flavor that the sweet chili sauce is right at home with. It is usually served on the side to dip the chicken in but here I find that tossing the grilled wings in the sauce ensure every bite is filled with a sweet-spicy goodness…

Like ginger, garlic and scallion is a common trinity that lays the foundational flavor in many Chinese dishes, the combination of garlic, coriander root (cilantro) and white pepper is a prevailing ingredient combination of Thai cooks. Then seasoning this mixture with some sweet golden palm sugar and the omnipresent fish sauce. Minced lemongrass come to the party with a bright citrus-like aroma.

In short, use the traditional recipe marinade, there is no problem to use coriander (cilantro) stem instead of the less available roots and buy the chili sauce to save that time—also having the remaining bottle will encourage you to incorporate it into all sorts or recipes. I even make a mean coconut martini that I use this chili sauce to coat the glass with.

Now back to my new cookbook…the new book will be different than my Southeast Asian Flavors book in that the recipes may not be the long standing traditional recipes of this food focused culture, they are recipes that have the genuine flavors of Thailand but rely on store-bought condiments to save some time. This is how many of us cook now, even in Thailand. Stay tuned and follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook to check on the progress of the cookbook.


Gai Yaang (Grilled Thai Chicken Wings with Sweet and Spicy Chili Glaze)

Recipe by: Chef Robert Danhi

I have found that serving with some lime wedges allows those that care to add an extra burst of flavor.
Makes 4 to 6 servings


Marinated Chicken Wings

3 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced cilantro stems
1 stalk lemongrass, minced
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon oil

3 lbs chicken wings


¼ cup Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoon roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce (option – for those extra spicy ribs)


Marinade Wings:
Whisk together fish sauce, sugar, cilantro, lemongrass, white pepper, and oil. Toss wings well, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, ideally overnight.

Make Glaze:
Whisk together all ingredients for glaze in large bowl.

Cook Wings:
Pre-heat charcoal or gas grill to medium heat. Grill chicken wing over in-direct heat for about 30-45 minutes turning them every 15 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

Glaze Wings:
Toss wings in glaze until coated well.

Chef’s Note:

If you wish to try the authentic Isaan version of Gai Yaang, please check out this recipe in the Southeast Asian Flavors cookbook.

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