This Thai chicken is spectacular and possibly one of the easiest real South East Asian marinades. Hailing from the south of Thailand, it’s ridiculously simple, made with garlic, fish sauce, oyster sauce, cilantro/coriander, turmeric powder and brown sugar. That’s it.
There are two very popular types of Thai chicken. One is Gai Yang which I shared previously which has lemongrass in the marinade so it has an earthy lemon flavour that is so distinctly South East Asian. And this Southern Thai Chicken which is quite different because it has turmeric in it, and no lemongrass.
Lemongrass is a distinctly South East Asian herb which I absolutely love but does not make my standard weekly shop. Whereas this one is made with ingredients that I always have. Aside from cilantro/coriander, everything else is pantry staples. And because I cook so much Asian and Mexican food, coriander always makes it into my weekly basket.
I first tried this Southern Thai chicken at a night market in Bangkok. At the time, I didn’t even know what it was (my Thai is not that great….ie virtually non existent), I just knew it was a finger-licking’ lip smackin’ moment of bliss. I’m lucky I was with friends who were very patient as I became annoyingly persistent, trying to hunt it down again as we continued our exploration of Bangkok.
I never found it again in Bangkok. I was even making jokes about how there was a chicken conspiracy, depriving me of my fix that I needed. I Googled it when I got home, and I still couldn’t figure out what it was (and more importantly, where I could get more). Bearing in mind I knew nothing about what it was except it was a very tasty grilled chicken! I didn’t actually pick there was tumeric in it which would have made my search more successful.
And then, quite by chance, I stumbled across this Tumeric Chicken recipe on a site called Real Thai Recipes. As soon as I read it and saw the photo, my face broke out into a wide grin because I knew straight away that it was what I had. And the reason I never found it again in Bangkok is because it’s not common there, it’s a style of chicken from Southern Thailand.
It all made sense! There’s WASN’T a Thai Chicken conspiracy! No wonder I couldn’t find them on every street corner in Bangkok!
So I’m saving you the Googling and endless hunts through the night markets in the back streets of Bangkok. Here is a ripper of a chicken recipe which is a Southern Thai Chicken that you can grill/BBQ or bake. I really think you will enjoy it. It’s quite sweet, but there are savoury layers from the other ingredients. It’s one of those recipes that tastes like it has way more ingredients in it – my speciality! – Nagi x
- 5 chicken thigh cutlets , skin on and bone in (around 2.5lb / 1.2kg) (Note 1)
- 4 garlic cloves , crushed
- 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp white pepper , ground
- 3 tbsp very finely chopped coriander/cilantro stems (as finely as you can mince with knife)
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
- ¼ cup brown sugar (or finely grated palm sugar)
Combine Marinade ingredients in a bowl.
Add chicken and coat thoroughly in Marinade. Marinade for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. (Note 2)
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. If you remember, take chicken out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
(Optional) Line a tray with baking paper/parchment paper (to save cleaning up), then place chicken on the baking tray, skin side up. Scrape all Marinade out of bowl and dab onto chicken.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown and chicken is cooked through. If it is too brown before cooked, cover loosely with foil and return to the oven.
Allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving with rice and fresh slices of cucumber.
Stove: To cook on the stove, heat a skillet over medium heat. Place skin side down and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes or until the skin is dark golden. Then turn and cover with a lid again, Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through. Rest for 3 minutes before serving.
1. You can make this recipe with any cut of chicken, though I would suggest adding 1 tbsp of oil into the Marinade if using breast because the chicken fat in other chicken cuts is what creates the beautiful caramelisation you see in the photos.
2. If you are using small boneless, skinless chicken thighs or tenderloins, you can probably get away with 1 hour of marinating time because the glaze flavour is strong enough to compensate even if it's not infused all the way into the chicken flesh.
3. This recipe can be cooked on the BBQ, stove or baked. To cook on the stove or BBQ, cook it on medium because the sugar in this marinade burns quickly. Here are some cook time guidelines for other cuts / cooking methods:
- Drumsticks: Bake for 40 minutes
- Skinless boneless thighs: Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or stove/BBQ for 5 minutes each side on medium.
- Breast: Bake for 25 minutes, or stove/BBQ for around 6 minutes on each side on medium.
4. Slightly adapted from this Tumeric Chicken recipe from Real Thai Recipes.
5. Nutrition per serving assuming 5 servings. This does not take into account the fat that is rendered out of the thigh cutlets when cooking.