GAI YANG (THAI GRILLED CHICKEN) is without a doubt, one of the best, most moist chicken recipes you’ll ever make.  Coming from Thailand, Gai Yang uses a butcher’s cut called spatchcocking, the chicken cooks faster, more evenly and without the typical waste of cooking a whole chicken.  We let the chicken marinate overnight which maximized the flavors, but you can certainly get nearly the same results with three to four hours in the marinade.



For the Marinade

4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce
8 tbsp water
8 tbsp minced garlic
2 stalks ground lemongrass or two tsp lemongrass powder
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tbsp coriander powder

For the Table Sauce

3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp oreganic bbq sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp coconut sugar


Make marinade

Create space in the refrigerator for a very large bowl, do this first so you know it will fit with ease.

Put all the wet ingredients (except for the water) into that very large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the dry ingredients into a small bowl and add the water, whisking until all is dissolved. Then pour that mixture into the large bowl. This ensures all the dry ingredients are mixed properly. You will have a very thick, chunky, garlicky, peppery mixture that will be very dark.

Preparing the chicken

If you’ve never spatchcocked a chicken, you might consider asking a butcher to do so when you buy the whole bird. If you’re careful and have sharp kitchen shears, it’s easy to do yourself. Flip the bird breast side down on a large cutting board. Using kitchen shears, starting at the thigh end, cut along one side of backbone with kitchen shears, then flip the bird around and cut the other side. The backbone will come out, but be sure to save this for soup stock.

Carefully place the chicken in the bowl with the marinade and rub the mixture onto the skin and on all surfaces of the chicken. As the marinade will have chunks of minced garlic along with the pepper, make sure to completely coat the skin well. You’ll thank me for this later!|

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, but better yet, overnight.


Indirect cooking keeps the hot coals from burning the meat while providing plenty of heat for cookingRemove chicken from refrigerator but do not allow it to come all the way up to room temperature. Heat up grill with hardwood charcoal. Placing all the white hot charcoal on one side and allow to cool slightly. Carefully remove chicken from marinade, place on grill and cook on the opposite side of the charcoal. This is called indirect cooking and allows for the meat to cook withot flare-ups and burnt meat.
Wait about 20 – 30 minutes before making your first flip, but baste the chicken with the extra marinade. You can use the marinade to baste the chicken while it’s on the grill, but STOP doing so during the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Cook the chicken on low heat for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through to the bone and the skin is golden dark brown on the outside.

Remove chicken from grill. Take inside, cover and allow to rest before serving. When serving, add a small amount of the table sauce to the chicken.


About Elizabeth Dougherty

Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations. Food Nation Radio has won two news awards for content. Broadcasting LIVE each week, nationwide, on and on stations around the country.

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