While everybody seems to “be home for Christmas,” I recently left mine in Thailand. Granted, I have another wonderful family in San Francisco that I also love, I am still long for one I hardly spend time with.
Last day I was in Thailand before flying back to San Francisco, my mom hugged me with teary eyes and said, “this is the best 3 months of my life.” My mom choked up!!!! The reason why there’s “!!!!” because my mom is NOT an emotional type; she is super practical & rational, yes, but not at all sentimental. The last time I saw her cried was about 20 years ago when gram passed away. So the fact that she choked up saddened me. Though I understand why. It was because this visit of mine lasted 3 months instead of the usual 3-4 weeks. It was because she had both of her daughters back living in her house again like the old days, and it was because she also had her first grandchild. I, too, was a bit choked up when I left Thailand this time.
So, to celebrate the love of my Thai family, I want to start my first post after my trip with this “Kor-Lae chicken (ไก่กอและ), aka. my mom’s secret recipe. My mom makes this once a year, usually during the time I visit because this is one of my most favourite dish. It’s not difficult to make, but oh boy, it takes some dedication. Why? In order to make this recipe, she uses old-fashioned charcoal grill like this. She marinates chicken overnight, and carefully grills it with low heat why keep spreading the sauce on the chicken. It takes her forever to prepare the dish, and it’s worth the wait. Last time, my family all devoured it with rice and finished all chicken in no time. OMG!!! My mouth waters just to think about that.
Before I left Thailand this time, I asked for her recipe, and adapted the method a bit, so all of us can easily make it. As you can see, you can definitely make a burger out of it. Use any vegetable you like, but I prefer frisee and nothing else.
P.S. I will not guarantee that you will find this dish when you visit Thailand because it’s so hard to find even there. There is only a couple vendors that I know of who sell this in Bangkok, and a fews more in the South of Thailand. The dish originated in the South, but never became popular. Surprisingly, you can’t find it easily in the South either.
(adapted from my mom’s recipe)
(making it a burger by adding a bun & frisee)
- 3 lbs. Chicken Thighs
- 1/2 oz. (about 16) dried chilies (deseed if prefer)
- 6 oz. shallots, peeled
- 1 tbs. coconut flour
- 3-4 cups coconut cream
- 2 teaspoons salt, more if needed
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, more if needed
- 4 cups light coconut milk (option)
Clean chicken thighs with light coconut milk & pat dry. Set aside chicken and discard that light coconut milk.
Soak dried chilies in warm water until soften, about 10 minutes
In the blender, add coconut cream, shallots, chilies and blend to combine. Pour the mixture into the saucepan over medium heat. Add coconut flour and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add salt & brown sugar and stir to combine. Taste & add more salt & brown sugar, if needed; this sauce needs to be more sweet than salty and a little spicy. Let cool.
Once the sauce is at room temperature, set aside 1 cup, and use the rest to marinate chicken. Marinate chicken at least 1 hour if you don’t have time, but trust me, overnight is best.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Heat an indoor grill; in batches in single layers, sear chicken thighs for 3-5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared chicken to baking tray and spread the sauce that you have set aside on all sides. Repeat with all chicken thighs. Bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through. (Note: if you don’t sear the chicken before baking, you will end up with too much liquid, which is not the result you are looking for. Cooked chicken needs to be moist with thick sauce left in the tray.)
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