In this recipe for gai yang, or Thai grilled chicken, the chicken marinade is enriched with a little coconut milk, which keeps the meat moist during grilling. Prepare the sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce the day you want to use it, because it loses freshness quickly. If you prefer to use chicken breasts instead of thighs and drumsticks, use 3 bone-in breast halves and cut each in half crosswise for 6 servings total.

Naomi Duguid
Source: EatingWell Magazine, May/June 2013


Dipping Sauce


Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare chicken: Combine garlic cloves, pepper, cilantro stems and pinch of salt in a large mortar or food processor or food mill and mash or pulse to a coarse paste. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in fish sauce and coconut milk. Add chicken and stir to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate, loosely covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

  • Preheat grill to medium. (No grill? See broiler variation, below.)

  • To prepare sauce: Heat vinegar to a boil in a small nonreactive pan. Add sugar, stir to dissolve it, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and minced garlic; simmer for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and stir in salt. Pour into a serving bowl and let cool to room temperature before serving.

  • Remove the chicken from the marinade. (Discard marinade.) Oil the grill rack (see Tips). Grill, turning occasionally, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching bone registers 165 degrees F, 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Serve the chicken with the dipping sauce.


Make Ahead Tip: Prepare sauce (Step 3) and hold at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

Tips: Fish sauce is a pungent Southeast Asian condiment made from salted, fermented fish. Find it in the Asian-food section of well-stocked supermarkets and at Asian specialty markets. We use Thai Kitchen fish sauce, lower in sodium than other brands (1,190 mg per tablespoon), in our recipe testing and nutritional analyses.

Oil a grill rack before you grill to keep the food from sticking to the rack. Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill--it may cause a flare-up.)

Broiler Variation: Preheat broiler to high. Place chicken in a roasting pan and broil about 5 inches from the heat, leaving the oven door ajar. Check after 8 minutes or so; the chicken pieces should be browning. Turn them over and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching bone registers 165°F, about 8 minutes more.

Nutrition Facts

442.6 calories; protein 53.1g 106% DV; carbohydrates 18.9g 6% DV; exchange other carbs 1.5; dietary fiber 0.3g 1% DV; sugars 17g; fat 15.9g 25% DV; saturated fat 4.8g 24% DV; cholesterol 280.4mg 94% DV; vitamin a iu 194.4IU 4% DV; vitamin c 0.8mg 1% DV; folate 10.3mcg 3% DV; calcium 26.9mg 3% DV; iron 2.5mg 14% DV; magnesium 50.9mg 18% DV; potassium 580.6mg 16% DV; sodium 628.7mg 25% DV; thiamin 0.2mg 21% DV; added sugar 17g.

Reviews (5)

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5 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 1
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 4 stars
This is a great recipe. I used a grill pan and fried them on the stove. The chicken was moist and tender. Wasn't worried about sugar content because we just dipped pieces in a little Read More
Rating: 2 stars
1/2 cup sugar? I usually love all the Eating Well recipes but mostly they are more nutritious. Seriously? 1/2 cup of sugar in this.....not good Eating Well not good. Cons: That's a lot of sugar!! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
A real winner! This is a very tasty recipe. I don't normally like dark meat but this was fantastic. I would like to try it with boneless skinless thighs soon as the drumsticks took forever to take the skin off. I broiled the chicken since it's winter in Michigan. I've made this at least 3 times and it's a hit every time! Pros: Easy tasty moist Cons: drumsticks take forever to take the skin off! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Tasty and easy As the previous reviewer suggested I used boneless chicken thighs. I prepared the seasoning paste in a small food processor but the peppercorns were only lightly crushed so not much pepper made it into the paste. Nonetheless I used it to season the thighs then immersed them in the coconut milk mixture and broiled them in the oven. So easy and super tasty. A keeper. Pros: Easy and fast Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Loved this with the Thai fried rice recipe. I did boneless chicken thighs and they were great! Only added have the sugar suggested for dipping sauce. Read More