Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spicy Coconut Chicken: Thai-inspired barbecue

This recipe was requested by Sharon, a collegue of my wife, after she tasted it at a staff lunch at St. Bart's church. It's a hybrid dish, frankly, a variant of authentic northeastern Thai barbecued chicken, 'gai yang'. (I'll have a recipe for the real gai yang in the blog fairly soon.) This is a good way to prepare those chicken breasts with skin and bones that often are on sale at the supermarket. Not only does the freshly cooked chicken make a great meal when accompanied by rice and a dipping sauce, but left-overs make wonderful cold snacks or even picnic fare. The only downside is that the chicken needs to be marinated overnight.

The sauce, for which there is a recipe included after the chicken, is one of the many easily made Chinese-origin sweet-sour dips used in Thailand.

The recipe makes sufficient chicken for six fairly hearty eaters. Accompany with white unsalted rice (see the blog posting of 1/26/08) and the sauce below. A salad with a sesame seed or fruit-flavored dressing goes well with this. While beer might be more appropriate, if you want a wine for the chicken, go for a fruity not totally dry one such as a chilled Riesling, Chenin Blanc, or Pinot Grigio, or an un-chilled medium-bodied Merlot.

Spicy Coconut Chicken Tim

6 medium-large chicken breast halves with skin and bones
1 cup (about 1/2 of a 14-ounce can) unsweetened coconut milk, can shaken well before opening
3 large cloves garlic, put through a press or finely minced or pounded in a mortar
1-1/4 inches fresh ginger, thinly sliced then finely minced or pounded in a mortar
4 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (or extra soy sauce)
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
5 teaspoons ground coriander
1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

The day before the chicken is to be cooked set it up to marinate. Slash crosswise twice through the flesh and skin of the chicken pieces down to the bone. Mix all the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat well, spooning some deep into the slashes in the chicken. Toss periodically, then place the chicken and marinade in the refrigerator either in the bowl covered with plastic wrap or in a large zip-locked plastic bag. Mix (or squeeze the bag gently) to re-coat the chicken occasionally. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

For roasting, heat the oven to 475 degrees (and temporarily disconnect the smoke alarm). Place a baked goods cooling rack on a large cookie sheet and place the chicken pieces, skin side up, on the rack. Roast on an upper shelf for 25 minutes. Move the chicken breasts around a little and roast another 15 minutes, or until the skin and edges are becoming browned and crispy.

Serve either as whole breast pieces or cut into chunks, through the bone, with a meat cleaver or heavy knife. Accompany by small bowls of the dipping sauce below.

Dipping Sauce for Roasted Chicken Tim

In a stainless steel or enamel pan (not aluminum or iron) place:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, bruised but intact
2 thin (1/8-inch) slices fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or 2 small Thai red chilies, slit lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon bottled chili-garlic sauce

Mix well and bring to a boil. Let simmer, stirring, 1/2 minute. Remove from the heat. Taste and add salt or sugar, if needed, to taste. Let cool, and discard the garlic and ginger.

Serve in small bowls near the diners. Pieces of chicken can be dipped into the sauce, or some sauce can be spooned over the chicken.


Anonymous Sharon said...

Tim - Thank you so much for including this recipe. I plan to prepare it this weekend. It is wonderful!

10:02 AM  
Blogger Tim Dondero said...

Sharon: Thanks for the comment. IBe sure to let the chicken marinate overnight. Please let us know how it turns out. Tim

8:31 PM  

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