This recipe from Great American Grilling (1996) is perfect for a summer weeknight meal and would also work for a casual dinner party. You can use a whole chicken, butterflied, or chicken pieces, as I have done here. Marinate the chicken up to a day ahead in a paste of garlic, green onions, ginger, spices and fish sauce and before grilling it.

Thai chicken on grill

I serve the grilled chicken with gai yang sauce, a hot and sweet sauce made from chiles, garlic, sugar and water. This recipe is from the July 1999 issue of Gourmet.

Gai Yang Sauce

The chicken and sauce are delicious with a Thai noodle salad, also from Great American Grilling. Cooked wheat or rice noodles, cucumbers, red pepper, green onions, cilantro and basil are tossed with a dressing made from rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, hot pepper flakes and garlic. Be sure to dress the salad just before serving and add the basil at the very end.

Thai Chicken with Gai Yang Sauce and Thai Noodle Salad

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use fish sauce without MSG, such as Thai Kitchen brand. Rice vinegar and soy sauce can also contain additives, so read the label carefully. I use Marukan brand seasoned rice vinegar for this recipe and tamari instead of soy sauce.

Thai Chicken


1 chicken, 3 to 3 ½ lbs (or use chicken pieces)

6 large garlic cloves, chopped

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions

1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger

½ tsp each ground coriander and coarsely ground pepper

2 tbsp fish sauce


If using a whole chicken, remove excess fat from chicken. Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry. With poultry shears or knife, split chicken lengthwise through breastbone. Place, skin side up, on a flat surface, pull open, and press firmly, cracking bones slightly, until bird lies reasonably flat.

With mortar and pestle, or in a blender, grind garlic, onions, ginger, coriander, pepper and fish sauce into a coarse paste. Pat paste all over chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or until next day.

Heat charcoal or gas grill and oil grate. Place chicken on grate and cook until meat near thighbone is no longer pink, about 50-60 minutes for whole chicken (less for pieces). Let chicken rest, covered loosely with foil, for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with gai yang sauce. Serves 4.

Gai Yang Sauce


2 small fresh hot red chiles (about 2 inches long) such as Thai or serrano

4 garlic cloves

¾ cup sugar

½ cup water


Mince chiles (wear gloves if you are sensitive to the heat of the chiles). Mince garlic. Combine chiles, garlic, sugar and water in small saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Sauce may be made a day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with Thai chicken.

Thai Noodle Salad


For salad

8 ounces dried capellini, spaghetti or linguine, or thin rice noodles

1 medium cucumber, seeded and cut into thin slivers

1 red pepper, cut into thin slivers

1/3 cup each thinly sliced green onions, chopped cilantro and chopped fresh basil

For dressing

½ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup soy sauce

1 tbsp each sugar, minced fresh ginger and sesame oil

½ to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced


In small bowl, combine ingredients for dressing. Bring large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente; don’t overcook. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain again. Pour pasta into wide shallow bowl and top with cucumber, red pepper, onions and cilantro. Add dressing and toss. Top with basil. Serves 4.

From Great American Grilling and the July 1999 issue of Gourmet