Thai Marinade for Chicken

IMG_1285This is an easy to prepare marinade that really is best made in a mortar and pestle, but can be easily done (actually way more easily done) in a food processor.  The amount here is good for about 4 pounds of chicken and I strongly suggest you use chicken thighs and pan fry them.  For me they are the tastiest part of the chicken not to mention way more economical than breast. The thighs I got were boneless and skin-less – I wasn’t looking for them that way and if you can only find skin on bone in ones – don’t despair!   Instead of frying them, roast them at 425 F for about 40 minutes or a little less depending on when they are done.

Marinade Thai Style

Add 1/2 cup unflavored oil like Sunflower, grape seed or peanut (if peanut make sure you use organic ditto canola) to a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot add a 10 scallions that have been flattened by the side of a knife and cut roughly into 3 pieces – keeping most of the green park in tact.  Fry for about 3-5 minutes, when the greens start to brown remove the pan from the heat and let cool with the scallions until it is room temperature.

The instructions are the same here with one exception regardless of if you use a mortar and pestle or a food processor.  If you use a FP use roughly ground black pepper – if you use a mortar and pestle use whole peppercorns.

Add 2 teaspoons of Black Peppercorns and crush them until all the peppercorns have been smashed – they will still be fairly large and rough. Add 6 cilantro roots with a little bit of stem attached (Asian grocery stores usually sell cilantro with the roots as it is used in many spice pastes in Asian cuisines), 2 heaping tablespoons of peeled and roughly chopped ginger, 6 small Asian Shallots (or 4 of the big Western kind) peel and roughly chopped and 12 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed.  Work until the mixture is broken down (see picture below):IMG_1287If you are having so much fun with your mortar and pestle you want to keep at it – go for it!  I, however had, had enough!  Of course in the food processor you will get a much finer and smoother end product.  I like the rustic aspect of doing it by hand and though some would argue that the taste will be different, I find it hard to believe.

Add to the spice paste 1/4 cup of soy sauce (I prefer usukuchi light soy sauce) and mix until incorporated.IMG_1289Place your chicken (which has been rinsed, cleaned and dried) in a large baking dish and massage the marinade over all of it.  Then sieve the scallions from the oil made earlier (reserving the scallions) and further work the chicken so the marinade and oil have reached a harmonious state 😉  let sit for an hour at room temperature.  

When ready to cook heat a big heavy skillet over high heat until pan is very hot then as quickly as possible add the chicken making sure to use a lot of the oily marinade.  Season your chicken – sprinkling a teaspoon or so on each side.  Cook until crisp on the outside and nicely browned.  A fork should be able to cut into a piece of the meat with ease.

Although i have not tried this with fish something tells me it would be delicious with Monk Fish or other meaty fish – maybe even Tuna?   Let me know what you think.

Oh and one last thing, some people remove marinade before they cook whatever it is you were marinading, it seems a waste to me to throw out all that yummy goodness.  Not to mention a pain to have to clean it all off, but its personal and if you feel it’s going to be too strong or affect the cooking or aesthetics in some way – go for it.

This chicken goes great with Spicy Isan Dipping sauce.


About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note:
This entry was posted in Recipes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thai Marinade for Chicken

  1. Leslie-Anne says:

    This sounds yummy. I am not familiar with cilantro roots. Is this something I can get in a regular Canadian grocery store, in suburbia, or as I like to call it, the land with no culture? I use cilantro leaves all the time (Mexican husband), but the bunches are always trimmed. Did you buy your molcajete in Mexico?

    • urbanfoodguy says:

      It’s actually a Thai mortar and Pestle from Thailand bought at the Bangkok Center Grocery store – there are some slight differences from a molcajete which to my knowledge are wider and lower and have a rougher surface. Mostly I only see them here when someone is making guacamole in one. The Cilantro should not be so difficult to find as I believe there are large suburban Chinese communities in Toronto, I remember my brother taking me to dim sum in a shopping mall in some God Forsaken place – but I’m not sure where – if you were to do a google search for an authentic Asian grocery store in your ‘hood I’m sure something would pop up. If not then just use the stem and don’t sweat it. Or grow your own! 😉

Leave a Reply to Leslie-Anne Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s