Gai gratiem – garlic chicken
It’s taken me a while to work out a recipe I’m happy with for this.
The main difficulty I’ve had with it is that what I love about having this in Thailand is the Thai garlic itself. The cloves are smaller and the skins are wispy paper thin – you just squash them rather than peel and those beautiful thin skins go crispy when fried and add such lovely texture to the dish that it just tastes different without that dimension.
Not much I can do about this though, so I’ve tried a few different recipes and ended up with this that I think gives all the flavours I want. I’ve also eaten it before with very crispy chips of garlic on top but I’m not so successful at making those without them often tasting a bit burnt so I’m not adding those in this version.
It’s a very simple dish, often eaten just over rice for lunch or without rice as a snack with a drink. There is a lot of garlic in this but somehow you don’t end up smelling of old garlic the next day!
It’s a simple, elegant and quick recipe and it doesn’t need to be with chicken – beef, pork or squid work as well. My favourite is probably with slices of pork tenderloin. I’m sure tofu would be good too – please let me know how it turns out if you make a version with tofu.
So, for one with rice as a main meal, I used:
about 4-6 garlic cloves
1 chicken breast
about 1 tablespoon cooking oil
a small (3/4) tsp white pepper
a small (3/4) tsp white sugar
a scant tablespoon light soy sauce
a scant tablespoon fish sauce
coriander leaves, to garnish, and lettuce leaves to serve
cooked boiled or steamed rice, to serve, if using
Smash gently the garlic with a flat knife and remove the skins. Is it possible to ‘smash’ gently? Perhaps I mean squash with a bit of force. Either or, up to you …!
Then chop quite finely.
Slice the meat and bash a bit with a rolling pin to flatten – you want the pieces in slices rather than chunks but quite flat so they cook very quickly and your garlic won’t burn.
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat until hot and add the garlic then cook for maybe a minute, stirring all the time so it doesn’t burn and until it is just starting to go a little brown.
Add the meat and again keep stirring constantly until it is cooked through. This will probably take around four minutes and do just cut or pull a piece open to check . If it’s sticking at all add a splash or water – in fact I would do anyway just to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the pepper, sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce and another splash of water if needed to make sure it mixes together.
Mix then turn up the heat and cook rapidly for a minute or two until the sauce reduces and there is very little sauce left.
Then either serve on a plate with lettuce in the traditional ‘bar snack’ style and garnish with coriander leaves, or have with rice as a more substantial meal.
I really like the flavours of this and the slight heat from the white pepper makes a change from chillies!
Do let me know if you liked this …