Why This Recipe Works
This full‐flavored chicken takes its inspiration from gai yang, a Thai street food, and features a pungent marinade and a spicy, sweet, and sour dipping sauce. To build authentic flavor, we made a thick marinade from a pantry‐friendly mixture of spices, cilantro leaves and stems, brown sugar, and fish sauce that offered the same intensity imparted by traditional (but hard‐to‐find) Thai ingredients. We rubbed the marinade both on and under the skin and let the flavors penetrate for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator. To ensure the chicken had crisp skin and perfectly cooked meat, we roasted it on a vertical roaster, starting it out in a gentle 325‐degree oven before ramping up the heat to 500 degrees. To finish, we paired our roast chicken with a simple but potent sauce of vinegar, sugar, garlic, and Thai chiles.
Note that this recipe requires refrigerating the marinated chicken for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours before cooking (a longer time is preferable). To make the sauce less spicy, remove the ribs and seeds from the chiles before mincing. This recipe calls for a vertical poultry roaster; our favorite is the Vertical Roaster with Infuser by Norpro. If you don't have one, you can substitute a 16‐ounce can of beer. Open the can and pour out about half of the liquid. Spray the can lightly with vegetable oil spray and proceed with the recipe.
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, trimmed and chopped coarse
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup fish sauce
1 (3½- to 4-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
½ cup distilled white vinegar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon minced Thai chiles
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Pulse cilantro, garlic, sugar, pepper, coriander, and salt in food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 15 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; transfer to small bowl. Stir in fish sauce until combined. Pat chicken try with paper towels. Using your fingers or handle of spoon, gently loosen skin covering breast and thighs. Place half of paste under skin, directly on meat in center of each side of breast and on thighs. Gently press on skin to distribute paste over meat. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with remaining paste. Tuck wingtips behind back. Place chicken in 1‐gallon zipper‐lock bag and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place vertical roaster on rimmed baking sheet. Slide chicken onto vertical roaster so drumsticks reach down to bottom of roaster, chicken stands upright, and breast is perpendicular to bottom of pan. Roast chicken until skin just begins to turn golden and breast registers 140 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes. Carefully remove chicken with sheet from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.
3. FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE: While chicken cooks, bring vinegar and sugar to boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium‐low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vinegar mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Off heat, let vinegar mixture cool completely. Stir in chiles, garlic, and salt; set aside until ready to serve. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
4. When oven temperature reaches 500 degrees, pour 1 cup water in bottom of sheet and return to oven. Roast until chicken skin is evenly browned and crisp, breast registers 160 degrees, and thighs register 175 degrees, about 20 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through roasting. (Check chicken halfway through roasting; if top is becoming too dark, place 7‐inch square piece of aluminum foil over neck and wingtips of chicken and continue to roast. If sheet begins to smoke and sizzle, add additional water to sheet.)
5. Carefully remove sheet from oven and let chicken rest, still on vertical roaster, for 20 minutes. Using 2 large wads of paper towels, carefully lift chicken off vertical roaster and onto carving board. Carve chicken and serve with sauce.