Isan Grilled Chicken

Isan, or Isaan is a northeastern region of Thailand, bordering Laos and Cambodia that has its own style of food. Not that it stems too far away from the main culture, but I find it to be a bit spicier, and commonly the food is eaten with sticky rice (known as khao neow).  This grilled chicken is common in the region and is one that you will really love, whether you grill it (preferred) or bake it until you have crispy skin. I have made variations of this style of chicken over the last 15 years or so, but this one is a bit different as I brined the chicken in advance to make it even more juicy. If you are looking for in introduction into Northern Thai cooking, and one without a ton of spice but packed with tons of flavor.

Isan Grilled Chicken Recipe
Isan Grilled Chicken Recipe

I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs on this particular recipe, but feel free to use a halved chicken, or spatchcock a chicken and go that route, especially for a crispy skin.

Ingredients for the brine:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1/2 cup of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, or 6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs

Ingredients for the Marinade: (if you have a mortar and pestle use it, otherwise your food processor)

  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced lemongrass
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1/4 tsp MSG, optional
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder, or turmeric
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Start by bringing the salt, sugar and water to a boil. Once the sugar and salts dissolve into the water, remove from the stove and let it cool.

Once the brine is cool, add in the chicken pieces, cover, and let this brine for 4 hours, and up to 24.

Isan Grilled Chicken Ingredients
Isan Grilled Chicken Ingredients

Make the marinade, either by using your food processor which many of you probably have, or go the authentic route and use the mortar and pestle. Make the mixture into a wet paste. Scrape into a sealable jar until the chicken is ready.

When the chicken is ready, remove it from the pot, and rinse and pat dry. Add the chicken pieces to a large sealable plastic bag, and pour in the marinade. Massage the marinade into the chicken and marinate for another 4-24 hours. The longer the better in my opinion.

Before you are wanting to grill, set the chicken out to get some of the chill off of it. I grill over charcoal, but again you can grill over wood, gas, or cook at 400 degrees until you get your internal temperature. My preference is grilling over coal for a more authentic taste.

When you have your grill going, I like to heat one side of the grill with coals and keep a warmer side with no coals. This way I can adjust the heat if things get too hot.

Place the chicken on the grill, near the coals, cover, and adjust the vents. You kind of want to go low and slow with this, slowly cooking the chicken, while any skin will get nice and crisp.

Isan Grilled Chicken Recipe
Isan Grilled Chicken Recipe

As this is cooking, feel free to whip up some dipping sauce that includes fish sauce, lime juice, chili, and a bit of sugar. Also feel free to serve this with jasmine rice, or better yet sticky rice (this is take a bit more planning, but recommended). When the chicken comes to your desired temperature, remove, and serve. Again, I used thighs, so I ended up chopping mine up as my kids love to eat stove like this in the style of larb.

Dig in and enjoy. The flavors are out of this world. A bit smoky from the charcoal, juicy from the brine, and just packed full of awesome flavor from the marinade. This is a great introduction to Northern Thai food, so give this one a try. Hope you enjoy!

Mayonnaise Grilled Potatoes

I know it drives my wife a bit nutty when she opens the refrigerator and sees a couple of shelves of condiments. See I grew up on condiments. My parents were condiment junkies, obsessed with what was new, and what varietal there was with things like mustards, ketchups, and mayonnaise. That’s probably where I got my own issues when it comes to going down a couple of aisles in the grocery store. I ALWAYS stop and look at different barbecue sauces, ketchups, olives, mayonnaises, etc. You get the point. But I have gotten better over the years, and sure, if my wife says to go get a second refrigerator, I’m sure my flood gate would open and that second refrigerator would start to load up on different condiments.

But my narrowing it down, I have came down to three mayonnaises that I truly love and will need no other, other than homemade. Hellmans, Duke’s, and Kewpie.  My wife and kids are not fans of mayonnaise all together, with the exception of including it in things like potato salad, and this particular recipe inspired me to get the awesomeness in mayonnaise embedded into some grilled potatoes without them knowing of course.

Mayonnaise Grilled Potatoes Recipe
Mayonnaise Grilled Potatoes Recipe

I know when you think mayo, and grilling, that you may think ‘grosse’, but trust me on this one, it’s pretty rad. The mayonnaise actually creates not only flavor (and great flavor at that), but great crust and texture. Think of using mayonnaise beyond sandwiches and potato salads, and using it as a marinade for all of your grilling needs.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • Baked potatoes, washed
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise per potato
  • salt, to taste
  • sliced scallions, optional

That’s it. Really simple stuff going on here for your grilling needs.

Start slicing your cleaned baked potatoes about 1 inch thick, about 3/4 of the way down. You still want them to remain in tact, but not fall apart. This is much like a hassleback potato, but a thicker slice.

Next, lather the mayonnaise all over, and into the crevices, of the potato. Season with salt.

Now you can do these in the oven if you desire and you can roast these as you normally would, but my grill was going that day and I decided to lay these on the grill for some additional flavor. However you decided to cook them, just cook them until fork tender.

Mayonnaise Crusted Baked Potatoes
Mayonnaise Crusted Baked Potatoes

Once cooked, place these on serving plate and shower with some fresh scallions.

If you are looking for different ways to use mayonnaise, give these mayonnaise crusted baked potatoes a try. I know next time, I will be grilling some up and lathering some mayonnaise onto them once they come off the grill! Hope you enjoy.

Nam Prik Kapi

Many of you may or may not have heard of Nam Prik Kapi. I was introduced to this funky Thai spicy shrimp paste dip years ago so I thought I would share it with you. Some of these ingredients may be foreign to you, especially the Thai shrimp paste (and trust me this stuff is funky but awesome).

Nam Prik Kapi Recipe
Nam Prik Kapi Recipe

The ingredients are minimal, but the flavor impact is something out of this world. A pestle and mortar works best for this, and I have not tried using a food processor, but feel free if you decide to make this recipe.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 15-20 Thai bird chili peppers, stems removed
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar (or light brown sugar if you do not have any)
  • 3 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
  • 2 whole shallots, skins removed, lightly chopped

As with many Thai dishes, you need to balance out the sour, spice, and bitterness. This one uses 20 Thai chilies, which if you can imagine is going to make it pretty spicy, but that’s how I like it. The goal here is to come up with a light and loose paste, nothing majorly thick.

Start by pounding your garlic, chilies, and shallots in a mortar and pestle. Your goal is to make a paste. This is the labor intensive part, as it takes about 10-15 minutes and will use some arm strength. Once you have a paste, add the shrimp paste and palm sugar, and continue pounding. I find it best to use a spoon along with the pestle to lift from the bottom and keep pounding.

Nam Prik Paki Recipe
Nam Prik Paki Recipe

The final step is to add the juice of the limes. Add enough lime juice to ensure a loose paste. Add more lime juice if you have to.

Now taste and adjust. It will be spicy. It will be tangy. It will be a bit funky.

Serve this alongside fried fish, omelettes, or lightly steamed vegetables. This stores nicely as well, and a little goes a long way. If you are looking for something new to try, give this one a shot. It’s probably one of Thai’s more famous dipping sauces. Hope you enjoy!

 

Scallion and Ginger Oil

Scallions and ginger, oh my! OH MY is right. This stuff is something to be reckoned with. I normally have some sort of homemade sauce in my refrigerator, and it’s funny because we just upgraded our refrigerator, and kept our older one, primarily for all of my condiments and sauces. I swear I have an aisle of Asian condiments or ingredients, a variety of barbecue sauces, mustards, and ketchups, only to name a few. My wife is happy now that all of these condiments have their own home. But let’s get to the point. Scallion and ginger oil. Holy Moly this stuff is the bomb diggity. Super simple to make, and trust me, you will be using it on pretty much everything, well, besides chocolate chip pancakes or something along those lines, but that’s your game.

Scallion and Ginger Oil Recipe
Scallion and Ginger Oil Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of scallions, cleaned, and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of grapeseed oil, warmed
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, to taste

I say to taste because once the mixture cools down and mixed, add more salt, soy sauce or vinegar to your liking.

Start by heating a pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the oil and let it come to a warm, if not hot temperature. Nothing smoking hot, but something you know is nice and warm.

During this time, get your other ingredients ready.

When the oil is hot, add the scallions, ginger, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar to a bowl.

Scallion and Ginger Oil Ingredients
Scallion and Ginger Oil Ingredients

Pour in the hot oil, and give a good stir. Let it come to room temperature, then taste a bit and adjust any seasoning if necessary.

Scallion and Ginger Oil
Scallion and Ginger Oil

Trust me when I say this. This stuff rocks. It’s almost the hidden umami that everyone questions when I use it, either on potatoes, omelets, or on grilled meat. It’s that good, and it lasts for weeks in the refrigerator.  Don’t judge me on the tomatoes, as I know they are not in season here, but we grilled some meat, had this as a side alongside some rice, and it was amazing. Simple and easy. Go for it and enjoy!