This grilled barbecued chicken is a bit unusual in that it's marinated in coconut milk and nam pla, an Asian fish sauce. Nam pla is one of the basic ingredients in Thai cooking and can be found in the Asian section in most supermarkets. It’s made from a mixture of fish, anchovies, salt, and sometimes sugar that’s been allowed to ferment for up to eighteen months. Read the label to be sure it doesn’t contain any MSG. Because fish sauce is fermented, it doesn’t require refrigeration and will keep almost indefinitely on your shelf. Good fish sauce should resemble the color of Scotch whisky and does not taste or smell too fishy.
The lime juice gives the chicken nice, fresh zing, and the hot sauce and red pepper flakes add a bit of spice. Be sure to serve lime wedges on the side so diners can squeeze a little extra juice over their chicken.
For an unusual appetizer, substitute chicken wings and drumettes for the chicken parts and pass on a platter with extra napkins.
Give this Thai BBQ chicken a try at your next cookout. It’s definitely not your Daddy’s BBQ chicken.
Grilled Thai Barbecued Chicken
Adapted slightly from The Beach House Cookbook
1 cup coconut milk (I used the light version)
1/2 cup nam pla (Asian fish sauce)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
4 small cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 chicken, preferably organic (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), cut into serving pieces
6 scallions, trimmed and minced, for garnish or Thai basil
1 fresh lime, cut in wedges for garnish
Combine the coconut milk, nam pla, lime juice, garlic, shallots, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, and cilantro in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and put it in a large plastic zip lock bag. Pour the coconut mixture over the chicken and marinate it for 4 hours in the refrigerator, turning the chicken occasionally.
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill. When the fire is medium-hot, and the coals are covered with a light coating of ash and glow deep red, remove the chicken from the bag, and discard the marinade. Put the chicken on the grill, bone side down. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook, skin side down, covered, until the juices run clear, about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a platter and garnish with the scallions or Thai basil. Serve at once with lime wedges on the side. Serves 6.