In Laos these marinated chicken pieces are flattened between split bamboo sticks and barbecued on a wood fire. This tasty salty-lemony-sweet treat is a particular favourite at festivals as the sticks make it easy to devour the smoky chicken on the trot. This is a real winner if you allow it to marinate for long enough and you will eat every morsel from the bones. The wilder the chicken the better, these ‘fatties’ pictured here were hefty free-
range Devon birds which are far less gamey that Lao chicken but still tasty.
6 chicken breasts with bone and skin attached, or better still, 6 poussin, flattened spatchcock style
4 tablespoons of fish sauce (and a teaspoon of paa dek water if possible)
4 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
3 stalks of lemon grass, sliced finely
1 birdseye chilli (optional)
4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- Place the chicken pieces on a board and cut three slashes of 1cm deep into each chicken breast with a sharp knife. Place them in a wide bowl. Wash your hands.
- Take a small bowl and mix the sugar into the fish sauce by stirring vigorously to dissolve the sugar.
- Peel the garlic, slice the lemongrass and (if using, slice the chilli in quarters and wash your hands afterwards or beware the consequences when you touch your mouth or eyes).
- Take a pestle and mortar and place the garlic, lemongrass and chilli in the bowl.
- Pound the mixture for about five minutes until it makes a rough paste, (add a little more fish sauce/sugar if it is too dry to pound).
- Add the fish/sugar liquid and the oil.
- Pour the mixture over the chicken and rub all over the pieces, getting into every crevice. Wash your hands and leave to marinate for 24-48 hours in the fridge, so the flavours really soak deep into the meat.
- Meanwhile put the light soy sauce, into another wide bowl. When ready to barbeque, place the chicken in the soy sauce and slop it around in the soy.
- Barbecue until juices run clear, turning regularly. Check often to avoid burning. The result is extremely tasty. Serve one poussin/breast per guest with sticky rice, chilli jaew and soup pak greens.
No BBQ? use an iron (ridged) griddle, heated over gas. The sugars in the marinade can burn if the heat is too intense so it is just a question of watching it while you cook.