This speciality from Isan—a northeastern region of Thailand—is found on practically every street corner in Bangkok and especially at the night markets. Wafts of garlic and lemongrass float in the air as they grill and brush the chicken pieces until they are lacquered and lush. Typically it is served on sticks (often with the clawed feet still on) so you can eat it without forks. But don’t stop at poultry, try the glaze on grilled beef, fish or pork.
Using poultry scissors, cut down the sides of the backbone of each spatchcock. Remove the backbone and flatten the birds.
Put the lemongrass, chilli, garlic, and coriander roots or stems in a mortar and pestle and pound until coarsely chopped. Alternatively, chop by hand. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the fish sauce and 1½ tablespoons of the sugar and combine well. Put two spatchcock each in large resealable plastic bags and pour half of the marinade into each bag. Alternatively, put all the spatchcocks in a shallow container and pour over the marinade. Seal or cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight if time permits.
Prepare a barbecue or chargrill. It is best to cook this over indirect heat, so set up a drip pan between the hot coals or turn off the middle burners if using gas: that way you won’t have flame-ups as fat drips down, and the spatchcock will cook evenly.
While the barbecue or chargrill is heating, put the remaining sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and stir until it has dissolved.
Cook the spatchcock for 10 minutes on one side, then turn and brush with the palm sugar glaze. Cook for another 10 minutes, then flip over and glaze again. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, continuing to brush with the glaze, until the spatchcock is cooked through and is golden and crisp on the edges.
Alternatively, the spatchcock can be roasted on a large baking tray in a 200°C (400°F) or 180°C (350°F) fan forced oven for 35-40 minutes until golden.
Remove from the heat and stand for 5 minutes, then cut the spatchcocks into pieces and place on a large platter. Serve with steamed rice, Chilli Lime Dipping Sauce, Sticky Cucumber Relish or Tamarind sauce.
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