In case you missed it, there’s a fantastic feature in this month’s Gourmet Traveller on Isan cuisine. Having just returned from an amazing honeymoon in Asia, I’ve had lots of fun this last week recreating these recipes.
My favourite of the bunch is the gai yang, a fragrantly tantalising grilled chicken that’s traditionally served with a side of som tum (a spicy paw paw salad) and kao niao (sticky rice).
The key to this recipe is to marinate the chicken ahead of time (I leave mine in a large freezer bag to lock in the flavours). Also remember to keep a close eye on the chicken so it doesn’t overcook or dry out.
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 coriander roots, scraped
1 lemongrass, white party only, finely chopped
1 tsp coarsely ground white pepper
30 grams tamarind pulp, dissolved in 50ml hot water, strained and solids discarded
15 grams light palm sugar, crushed
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 free range chicken (around 1.5kg), butterflied
4 garlic cloves
1 coriander root, scraped
1 long red chilli, coarsely chopped
375ml rice vinegar
220 grams white vinegar
1. Pound ginger, coriander root, garlic and lemongrass in a mortar and pestle, or process in a small food processor. Transfer to a non-reactive container with tamarind, palm sugar and fish sauce. Slash chicken at intervals with a large knife then add to tamarind mixture, turn to coat, rubbing with marinade, refrigerate to marinate (overnight).
2. Meanwhile, for dipping sauce, pound garlic, coriander root and chilli in a mortar and pestle to a paste. Trnasfer to a suacepan with viengar, sugar and 200ml water and cook over high heat until sauce is syrupy. Refrigerate until required.
3. Preheat a coal barbeque or char-grill pan to high heat. Grill chicken turning regularly, until charred and cooked through (25 minutes). Cut into portions and keep warm.
5 red birdseye chillies
2 garlic cloves
1 small green papaya, shredded
6 snake beans, cut into 6cm lenghts plus extra to servce
8 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp ground perserved fish sauce
4 limes, juice only
60ml fish sauce
30 grams light palm sugar, crushed
2 tbsp dried shrimp
Roasted peanuts to serve
1. Pound chilli and garlic in a large wooden mortar and pestle to a paste. Add papaya and beans and pound to combine, folding mixture over with a large metal spoon as you go. Add remaining ingredients, pound and fold to combine, add peanuts, adjust seasoning to taste and serve.
Recipes extracted from Gourmet Traveller’s February 2011 issue