What is Kai Yang?

Kai yang is chicken that is usually grilled over coals.

Kai yang is a chicken dish usually grilled or grilled over a charcoal fire. It is a very popular dish in Thailand, especially in the northeast region of Isan, and is often sold as street food in markets. As with many Asian dishes, kai yang is often eaten with some sticky white rice, along with a spicy vegetable salad dish called “som tam” and a little sauce for the chicken.

The term “kai yang” means “grilled chicken” in the Thai language. The dish may have been known to be a part of Thai cuisine, but it actually originated from Laos, which adjoins the Isan region and is separated only by the Mekong River. It is not surprising, therefore, that many residents of Isan are of Lao origin, and one of the many things they brought with them was food. In the Laotian language, grilled chicken is called “ping gai”, which translates as “roasted chicken”. It is possible that ping gai started out as a dish for wealthy people, as residents of Isan lived mainly on seafood sourced from the Mekong River, and other types of protein were rare.

What sets kai yang apart from other grilled chicken dishes is the use of a variety of ingredients for the dish’s marinade. Some ingredients include fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger and a generous amount of white pepper. Vinegar, rice wine, and Chinese hoi sin sauce can also be added to the marinade, as can other herbs like lemongrass, cilantro, garlic, and a little salt. Some cooks add a little coconut milk, perhaps to somehow counteract the spicy spiciness of the marinade, while adding more dimension to the flavor.

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The preparation of the chicken itself is also very different compared to other grilled chicken dishes. The whole chicken, once plucked and prepared, is traditionally spread with a clean slice along the belly. This method is often called “butterfly” chicken. The chicken is then shredded to make the meat tender and help the bird maintain its “butterfly” shape. It is then marinated for a while, at least 15 minutes or so, and then grilled over a very low heat, sliced ​​surface facing down on the grill, until cooked through.

Barbecue is not cut to make the kai yang crispy, as this can produce very dry meat, so the chicken is cooked slowly. This method also helps the chicken absorb more flavors from the marinade. Alternatively, the chicken can also be initially roasted until it is half cooked and then placed on the grill to finish the cooking process. Kai yang is often cut into smaller pieces before serving.

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