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Gai yang

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Gai yang

By Lisa Featherby
  • Serves 4
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 25 mins cooking plus soaking, marinating, cooling
Gai yang
Gai yang

This chicken dish is traditionally sold in roadside huts in Thailand alongside other barbecued meats, tum som and sticky rice. The rice needs to be soaked overnight, and the chicken is best marinated overnight too, but once you've done this the rest is really quick and simple. The recipe for the accompanying dipping sauce is adapted from David Thompson's Thai Food. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.


  • 350 gm white glutinous rice, soaked overnight in cold water
Gai yang
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 coriander roots, scraped
  • 1 lemongrass, white part only finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground white pepper
  • 30 gm tamarind pulp, dissolved in 50ml hot water, strained (solids discarded)
  • 15 gm light palm sugar, crushed
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 free-range chicken (about 1.5kg), butterflied and lightly tenderised with a meat mallet
Dipping sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 coriander root, scraped
  • 1 long red chilli, coarsely chopped
  • 375 ml rice vinegar (1½ cups)
  • 220 gm white sugar (1 cup)


  • 1
    For gai yang, process garlic, coriander, lemongrass and pepper until finely chopped. Transfer to a non-reactive container with tamarind, palm sugar and fish sauce. Slash chicken at intervals with a large knife then add to tamarind mixture, turn to coat, rubbing with marinade, refrigerate to marinate (overnight).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for dipping sauce, pound garlic, coriander root and chilli in a mortar and pestle to a paste. Transfer to a saucepan with vinegar, sugar and 200ml water and cook over high heat until sauce is syrupy (15-20 minutes). Refrigerate until required.
  • 3
    Preheat a coal barbecue or char-grill pan to high heat. Grill chicken, turning regularly, until charred and cooked through (25 minutes). Cut into portions and keep warm.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, drain glutinous rice and cook in a large steamer lined with muslin over a saucepan of boiling water until fluffy and sticky (20 minutes). Serve with chicken and dipping sauce.


Drink Suggestion: Cold, refreshing lager. Drink suggestion by Max Allen