Los Angeles is famous for its Thai food, and rightly so: we have the largest Thai population outside of Thailand, and the restaurants to match. And residents across the Southland, even those that didn't grow up in Thai families, pride themselves on their ability to differentiate between pad thai and pad see ew and their tolerance for extreme spiciness. But we can't forget our own culinary history: there was a time when Thai dishes were quite foreign to most Angelenos.
In 1982, Tommy Tang opened a Thai restaurant on Melrose, and brought papaya salad and Massaman curry to the hip, mainstream masses. The sweet crowd-pleasers Tang chose to indoctrinate L.A. with are now seen by some foodists as out-of-date and even, horror of horrors, inauthentic. But here's the thing: they're delicious. Which is, as far as we're concerned, just about the most important part of a recipe. So, in honor of the longer, sunnier evenings we're enjoying, we invite you to dust off the grill and try this jewel of early-80s Thai cookery -- you'll love these retro flavors.
BBQ Chicken with Sweet Chili Sauce
2 chickens (about 3 pounds each), with bones and skin, cut into halves
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon white pepper, cracked
2 tablespoons raw sugar or honey
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 cup cold Singha Beer
Sweet Chili Sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plum sauce
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or lemon juice
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground red chili paste (sambal)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
4 slices fresh pineapple
Combine all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gently prick chicken skin all over with fork. Add chicken to marinade mixture and rub it in. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place chicken on baking tray and bake chicken until cooked through, about 45 minutes, basting with marinade every 15 minutes. Prepare charcoal grill, then grill 10 minutes on each side to finish cooking.
Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to lower and simmer 15 minutes, Let cool. Transfer the cooked chicken to a platter and serve with sweet chili sauce and pineapple slices.
[Photo by Flickr user Winam.]
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