Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thai Grilled Garlic Chicken, Issahn Style....

When we lived in San Francisco there was a wonderful place we went to often that had Thai BBQ chicken, Ribs, Duck, and Salmon. It was served with sticky rice and a sweet chili garlic sauce and a carrot salad. It was called San Francisco BBQ. They also served the BBQ chicken over noodles in a tasty noodle bowl. That was the first Thai style food I had ever eaten back in the very early 80's. We loved it! We still do.
This chicken reminds me of that very same chicken. I actually have the recipe from that restaurant but I find this better. The marinade is also good on pork or beef ribs. I have not tried it yet but I bet it would be great on Salmon as well.

Thai Grilled Garlic Chicken, Issahn Style
adapted from Quick and Easy Thai
Nancie McDermott

3 T. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro root, or stems and leaves
3 T. coarsely chopped garlic
1 t. freshly ground pepper
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. fish sauce
1 t. salt
3 Tablespoons water, or more as needed to grind the paste
3 pounds chicken pieces
Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce.

In a food processor or blender, combine the cilantro, garlic, pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, and water. Grind to a fine fairly smooth paste. Add another Tablespoon or two of water if needed to help grind evenly.

Transfer the marinade to a large deep mixing bowl and add the chicken pieces ,turning to coat everything well. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, turning occasionally to coat evenly with the marinade.

Prepare a very hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill or oven to 450*. When hot ,place the chicken on a lightly oiled rack, or in a roasting pan in the oven , and cook turning occasionally to brown and and cooked evenly and the chicken is cooked through.
(I cook the chicken until it registers 160* on an instant read thermometer)
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, with small bowls of Sweet- Hot Garlic Sauce.

You can buy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce in the supermarket. There are several good brands or you can make it yourself. If you make it yourself it keeps well in the fridge in a jar or container.

Sweet- Hot Garlic Sauce.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce(sambal oelek)
or Sri Rachaa, or minced fresh hot red chili peppers, or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes.
(I use the sambal oelek)

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, vinegar, water, garlic, and salt to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Simmer 8 to 10 minutes, until you have a thin smooth syrup. Remove from the heat, stir in the chili garlic sauce. Set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature with the Grilled Garlic Chicken or any other grilled or crisp fried food. Sealed in a Glass jar this keeps in the fridge for one week.

( my notes: I find that this comes out as a thin marinade rather than a paste. That is fine. I have doubled this and it works really well as I usually use more than 3 pounds of chicken parts when I make it. My organic cilantro comes with the roots attached so I use all of it...roots ,stems, and leaves. Just be sure to wash it really well as cilantro can be sandy and gritty. I sometimes just throw in a big handful of the cilantro and do not measure it...I always use the processor. Also I normally marinate the chicken in a large zip- lok bag and place that on a tray or in a bowl in case it leaks. I find the chicken gets better covered in the marinade that way. I just turn the bag over ever now and then and make sure everything is covered well.)

I use a gas grill and I put this on a hot grill and turn the cooking area down to low and cover the grill, checking often to see that is does not burn.I leave the other burners on medium.


  1. Oh dear, this looks wonderful and full of flavor

  2. Mmmmm, the charred edges make a huge difference, don't they? ;) And I do believe we have the same plate! Heh heh!

  3. Linda, this looks like such a wonderful recipe and I must try it very soon. Thanks so much!

  4. Linda... wonderful recipe. I do wish I had a grill since this wouldn't be the same in the oven, as Ju says, the charred edges are the thing... I love them so. I'll save this for a country weekend!

  5. ohhh this looks great and I am definitely going to take down that recipe for the sweet chili sauce as I cannot find it in my supermarket...thanks for sharing

  6. Ooh, yum. I love chicken with any sort of Asian flair!!!

  7. This looks amazing Linda......Now I can make my own sweet chili sauce. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  8. Thanks for sharing this Linda! This will be gobbled up with joy in my house. Can't wait to try it!

  9. Linda,Your picture has my mouth watering for spicy chicken and it is only 7:00 Am on the west coast.

    Wish you had posted this last week when I was looking for something to do with chicken legs. This looks wonderful and I can't wait to give it a try.


  10. Just printed this out and will try it on barbecued pork ribs tonight. I love the flavors in the marinade. I'm going to serve this with sticky rice and ripe melon slices. Yummo.

  11. linda, it isnt even 10 o'clock in the morning here but your post makes my stomach growling and i want to eat a roasted chicken right now...

  12. Made it,loved it posted about it.
    My partner is allergic to cilantro so I use a handful of Thai Basil and some chives.

    Still delicious.

  13. Sounds good Jane...glad you enjoyed!

  14. This looks wonderful and very interesting. I love cilantro but have only eaten the leaves. What is cilantro root? I have never seen it in the store or heard of it. I guess I can google it...

  15. can find it in Asian Markets. But often when I buy my cilantro the roots are still attached so I just use the whole just fine. Regular cilantro is also fine to worries.