My friend J recently went to spend a few months in the Thai islands looking forward to a bit of chill time during a break in her frenetic career. What she didn’t bargain for was to be robbed three times (the latter time at knifepoint) of ALL her possessions in the space of about a month – bar the clothes she stood up in. And on one of the occasions to be bullied by local police who accused her of lying about the thefts – apparently it was going to give Thailand a ‘bad name’. Bah! But the silver lining in all of this is that J, currently on Koh Samui, is being helped by a great group of locals and fellow travellers to get herself back on track. She is simply grateful that she was unharmed and that the robberies weren’t more serious. Who needs possessions eh? (Well maybe a sturdy pair of pants, a cravat and a pipe, but apart from that?)
I dedicate the following recipe to her – ‘cause if we were hanging out, I’d make this, and we’d drink a few Singha beers. These barbecue beauties are my attempt to infuse all the flavours of Thai cooking into one handy chicken kebab, and are loosely based on various barbecued street snacks I’ve eaten in Thailand. They’re fiery and they kick ass, much like J who remains optimistic about her travels and is determined to stay longer in Thailand and enjoy herself. Way to go, J!
Serves 4 (makes approx 8 kebabs)
You will need:
500 – 600g chicken thigh meat, cut into chunks, about an inch squared (don’t be tempted to use chicken breast meat, as this will dry out on the barbecue)
2 thumbs fresh ginger root, grated
4 lemongrass sticks, young part minced until fine
6 medium lime leaves, central vein removed and minced until fine (buy in frozen packs from Asian supermarkets)
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
2 birdseye chillies, minced
1 medium bunch fresh coriander – roots, stems and leaves, minced until fine
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp runny honey or agave nectar
2 tbsp sunflower (or other neutral tasting) oil
Pre-soak some bamboo skewers in cold water. Chop the herbs, chillies, ginger and garlic until finely minced, then combine with the fish sauce, soy, honey, lime juice and oil.
Put the chicken thigh pieces in a bowl, stir through the marinade ingredients and leave to infuse in the fridge for a minimum of three hours, at best leave overnight if you have time.
When the meat is ready, remove from the fridge, thread onto your bamboo skewers:
Grill for about 5 – 8 minutes on your barbecue, turning frequently, until well cooked through and caramelising on the outside.
You can also cook these under a conventional home grill – allow about 10 minutes, turning frequently.