An expat backstory: In Peru we have a national chicken dish called “Pollo a la Brasa”, which is basically spit roasted chicken marinated with secret sauces, every locale has their own special marinade and every single person in Peru has their favorite Pollo a la Brasa restaurant. Pollo a la Brasa is specially tasty on Sundays and when hungover, although some people eat it many times a week.
My husband isn’t Peruvian and he loves the stuff. There is nothing better than ordering chicken from Pardo’s Chicken while laying and bed and watching a movie.
Fast forward to Thailand:
Phuket: There is no Pollo a la Brasa in Phuket but there are two Thai style chicken delicacies that became pretty good replacements, and one of them you could even get for breakfast at 7 in the morning. They are sold in roadside stalls and even though they are prepared differently, both are quite satisfying.
The two chicken delicacies of Thailand are called Gai Taud and Gai Yang, Fried and Grilled respectively. Gai means chicken and both can be accompanied by the very classic sticky rice with fried shallots. I never thought I would fall in love with fried chicken for Breakfast, specially after seeing the huge pots of boiling oil where the chicken is made.
Bangkok: Close to our apartment in Bangkok, around the corner from Soi Cowboy, there was a Gai Taud stall but it wasn’t as nice as the one where I get our weekly staple from in Phuket. The rice didn’t have the crispy shallots and the flavor wasn’t as nice. I don´t know what I´m going to do when we have to move and I crave Gai Taud. I´ll have to learn how to make it myself.
The Muslim Thai fried chicken, ¨gai taud¨ (ไก่ย่าง); is superior than the other, not muslim variety. I had not realized this until trying all the kinds and it is completely true. In our Phuket neighborhood, there were four fried chicken stalls and the one with the signs in arabic and halal logos served by the nice lady in hijab was definitely the best. It’s a flavor thing, also a crispiness factor.
Her sticky rice with crunchy shallots was also so good that my kiddos could never get enough. Sometimes I only buy wings, cause why not!
About the other chicken delicacy from the Thai roadside; grilled whole chicken ¨gai yang¨ (ไก่ทอด) with a side of sticky rice and Som Tam (green papaya salad). This is the closest we’ll ever get to Pollo a la Brasa since it’s also cooked over a grill, just not rotated but spread out with bamboo sticks and marinated in a very Thai sauce. When served, its cut up with a big cleaver into pieces and if eaten fresh off the grill, the skin is quite crispy. If taken home in the infamous plastic bag it can get a little soggy.
Our all time favorite Gai Yang is the Thai Muang National Park beach side picnic setup with really nice chicken and equally nice rice and som tam.
Like on all our Thai Food posts I will include a recipe for the food we talk about. I usually use the recipes on the She Simmers website cause they are so spot on. And this Thai Style Fried Chicken ¨Gai Taud¨ recipe is no exception, CHECK IT OUT!
Thai-Style Fried Chicken – Gai Tod (ไก่ทอด)
Thai-Style Fried Chicken My Way
4 pounds chicken drumsticks (or a combination of your favorite chicken pieces)
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
2 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro roots or stems
3 tablespoons oyster sauce (or a mixture of 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules for those avoiding gluten)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (optional but highly recommended)
One cup of limestone water (can be substituted with equal amount of plain seltzer water or one cup of plain water mixed with 2 teaspoons baking soda)
About 2 cups of rice flour
3-4 shallots, very thinly sliced and left to dry out in a single layer on a plate
2-3 Pandanus leaves, bruised and knotted or
1 large yellow onion, quartered with the skin on
- Pound the first four marinade ingredients in a granite mortaruntil they form a smooth paste. (You can use a small chopper or food processor for this.)
- Add the paste to the chicken along with the remaining marinade ingredients.
- Let the chicken marinate in a covered bowl, in the refrigerator at least 6 hours, up to overnight.
- Whisk together the batter ingredients. The batter will be somewhat thin.
- Dip each piece of chicken (no need to wipe off the marinade) into the batter; make sure it’s entirely coated.
- Immediately coat the battered chicken with rice flour; shake off some of the excess flour. Lay each piece out on a cookie sheet and allow to dry 15-20 minutes at room temperature.
- While waiting for the chicken to dry out, heat up the oil in the fryer along with your aromatics of choice, if desired.
- When the oil temperature reaches 350 F, remove and discard the aromatics and gently drop the chicken pieces into the oil (don’t fry too many at the same time; this causes the oil temperature to drop too low and results in soggy coating).
- Fry the chicken until the inside is thoroughly cooked and the outside is golden brown. If you’re not used to cooking fried chicken Thai-style, cook your chicken to the point when you normally remove it from the fryer, then leave it in the oil about 10 minutes longer, adjusting the heat as needed.
- Once all the chicken pieces have been removed, gently drop the shallot slices into the oil. Once they’re browned and crispy, transfer them with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.
- To serve, sprinkle the crispy shallots over the chicken.
- 1 Most of the time, all it took was a tilted head featuring my signature idiotic grin and a series of rapid blinks. Pathetic? Perhaps. Effective? You bet.
***For the Thai Style Grilled Chicken ¨Gai Yang¨ I got the recipe from another great website called Eating Thai Food. And here is their recipe, CHECK THIS ONE OUT TOO!