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Char-grilled palm-sugar chicken

Australian Gourmet Traveller Thai-style recipe for char-grilled palm-sugar chicken.

By Emma Knowles
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 40 mins cooking plus marinating
  • Serves 4
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Char-grilled palm-sugar chicken
Serve this Thai-inspired chicken as a snack, or with sticky rice and a green papaya salad for a meal.


  • 20 gm (4cm piece) ginger, coarsely grated
  • 10 gm (2cm piece) galangal, coarsely grated
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 2 coriander roots, coarsely chopped
  • 55 gm (¼ cup) light palm sugar, coarsely chopped (see note)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
  • 1 chicken (about 1.6kg), butterflied, backbone removed
  • For brushing: vegetable oil
Roast chilli dressing
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp finely grated galangal
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp coarsely grated light palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground roast rice
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) fish sauce
  • 2 red shallots, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 2 limes, or to taste


  • 1
    Pound ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass and coriander root to a paste in a mortar and pestle, add sugar, pound to combine. Transfer to a bowl, add soy sauce and chicken, turn to coat, cover, refrigerate to marinate (2-3 hours).
  • 2
    Strain marinade into a small saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to a glaze (8-10 minutes).
  • 3
    Preheat a char-grill pan over low heat. Pat chicken dry with absorbent paper, brush with oil and char-grill, starting skin-side down and turning and basting with marinade occasionally, until cooked through (20-25 minutes).
  • 4
    Meanwhile, for roast chilli dressing, dry-roast chilli in a frying pan over high heat until smoky (30 seconds), transfer to a bowl. Add galangal to pan, dry-roast until fragrant and dried (2-3 minutes), then pound in a mortar and pestle until fine. Add garlic, palm sugar and ground rice, pound to combine. Stir in remaining ingredients, drizzle over hot char-grilled chicken and serve.


Note Palm sugar is extracted from the sap of the Palmyra palm and comes in jars, small tablets or large discs. It requires grating or crushing before use. We found the tablets and discs easier to handle than the jar form.
Drink Suggestion: A Spätlese, or medium-sweet riesling. Drink suggestion by Max Allen