This is an easy, but amazingly flavorful and delicious grilled chicken recipe only very slightly adapted from the cookbook, "James McNair Cooks Southeast Asian", available here.
The chicken marinates in a thick, seasoned coconut milk mixture, then is grilled and served hot with a Sweet Chile-Garlic Dipping Sauce on the side. So, so good! It has been served at the last few 2 Vagabonds Open Houses and it disappears rapidly! For family dinners, I serve chicken pieces, but for hors d'oeuvres or for the open houses I have done skewers and also chicken wings; I think the wings worked best to keep warm for a long time (plus they're easier to do).
what you'll need:
3/4 cup coconut milk (I like Mae Ploy brand the best-not shown above-it seems to be the thickest and clings to the chicken really during grilling)
2-3 lbs. chicken pieces
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro (roots and lower stem portions if possible)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce, preferably dark Chinese style (the really thick, dark stuff-but just use regular if that's what you've got)
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. white pepper (freshly ground if possible)
Sweet Chilli Sauce (I much prefer Mae Ploy brand to any American brand)
Vegetable oil for brushing grill rack
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
In a bowl, combine the coconut milk, garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, soy sauce, turmeric, sugar and pepper; mix well. Add the chicken and turn to coat on all sides. Cover and refrigerate, turning the chicken several times, for at least 4 hours or, preferably overnight.
Preheat grill and brush lightly with oil. Lay that chicken on the grill! Yep, even if it's snowing outside.
Grill until dark brown on each side, moving to cooler side of grill as needed to cook through thoroughly. Pierce with a skewer or fork to see if clear juices run, or just cut into one to get an idea of how it will look and feel when done. Then eat that one!
It's even better when you have a wonderful helper (slave) like our friend Brian Kestle, who was kind enough to spend two hours grilling twenty pounds of wings for me! Meanwhile his brother, Mat was inside wielding a sharp knife slicing and mincing mountains of veggies and meats, and helping with lots of other cooking. Those guys are awesome!
To serve, put chicken on a platter with bowls of Sweet Chilli Sauce for dipping or pouring over. Garnish platter with springs of cilantro. Best served warm, so if you must (we have to for 6-hour open houses), use either a chafing dish or a crockpot set to warm and just serve sauce on the side. Really, really delicious!
P.S. Please ignore the lemongrass in the photo--it really was not omitted from the recipe, I just accidentally put it in the photo. Though if you wanted to mince some up and put it in either the marinade or the dipping sauce, I'm sure it would be most excellent!