Thai Marinated Grilled Chicken


This is a version of one of my favourite Thai recipes. In Thailand, the chicken is marinated, then wrapped in fragrant pandan leaves and fried, which process releases the nut-like flavour of the leaves.

Pandan leaves (also known as screwpine leaves) are similar to bamboo leaves. Only dried pandan leaves are available in the West and that is why this recipe omits them. However, the marinade is so pleasing to the palate that only a Thai diner will note the absence of the pandan. For maximum flavour, marinate the chicken as long as is feasible: preferably overnight.


  • 900 g (2 lb) unboned chicken thighs


  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons white rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 small fresh red Thai chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds


Blot the chicken thighs dry with kitchen paper.

In a blender, combine the marinade ingredients and purée.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the marinade and mix well. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to grill or barbecue the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the sauce by combining the vinegar, dark soy sauce, chilli, sugar and sesame seeds, and set aside.

Preheat the oven grill to high or make a charcoal fire in the barbecue. When the oven grill is very hot, or the charcoal is ash white, grill the chicken for 10 minutes on each side or until cooked, basting occasionally with excess marinade.

Place on a warm platter and serve immediately with the sauce.