An easy recipe for Gai Yang, Thai Grilled Chicken

Gai Yang - Thai grilled chicken

Gai Yang - Thai grilled chicken

One of the easiest and most delicious dishes that my wife and I like to make at home is Gai Yang, or Thai-style grilled chicken. If you’re a regular reader of this site, you’ll remember that we served Gai Yang as the main course on our Diner en Blanc Singapore menu. While easy to cook and a joy to eat, especially with some sticky rice and some Thai sweet chilli sauce, the trick to making a great Gai Yang is to marinate the chicken (at least) overnight.

What actually goes into the marinade is actually quite personal. Every home or professional chef will have his or her own preferred ingredients and quantities. At its base, Gai Yang is chicken that has beem marinated with fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic and cilantro stems and then grilled over charcoal. That said, I’ve seen recipes that replace fish sauce with soy sauce or even oyster sauce, which while interesting, are not substitutions I would make.

When S and I took our little boy T to Bangkok at the end of July, we discovered that he enjoys Gai Yang just as much as we do. Which is fantastic. As he gets older, he’s been eating more and more “adult food”, so we’re always on the look-out for foods that we like that he also takes a shine to. It’s a lot easier to prepare one larger meal that the whole family can enjoy–as opposed to cooking a separate meal for the rugrat.

Of course, I was not at all surprised that T liked Gai Yang. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy what has become one of Thailand’s most popular Thai street foods. Despite its association with Thailand, you should know that Gai Yang originally came from Laos, where it’s called Ping Gai (which literally means “roast chicken”). It came through Thailand via the Isan folks who live in the country’s northeast (which borders Laos).

When we do Gai Yang at home, despite having a Miele barbecue grill built into the island in our kitchen, we tend to roast the chicken in the oven. It’s simply easier and a whole lot cleaner.

I hope you give this simple but gorgeously aromatic and tasty chicken dish a try. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes one of your own favourite easy recipes to whip up for yourself. And your kids.


About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!