Skip to content

Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang)

May 2, 2017

By Kath Dedon


Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang) may be the best chicken I have ever made or eaten!

I adapted the recipe from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the current issue (May-June 2017) of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine. I just started subscribing to the magazine this year and I really like it. It’s published 6 times a year and is full of recipes from around the world. I just noticed today that my Thriftway store has the current issue for sale, so you may be able to buy a single copy if you don’t want to commit to a subscription.

Kimball traveled to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where he ate this amazing chicken prepared by two young chefs who grill spatchcocked chickens over a charcoal grill. He loved the chicken and the tamarind-based dipping sauce that was served with it.

Back home, he set out to recreate Chiang Mai Chicken for home chefs. He makes it simple, giving directions for roasting in the oven.

The marinade is fabulous and gives the chicken so much flavor! The chicken should be marinated for 2 hours. Kimball says 1 hour is not enough and 3 hours makes it too salty.

After reading over the recipe I knew I wanted to make it for Laura’s and Rhett’s birthday dinner. (With their birthdays just 11 days apart, we celebrated both of them on the same day.) I doubled the recipe to have enough for everyone. Since two family members are currently eating a super low-carb diet, I used Truvia instead of sugar in the marinade. It worked really well!

I made both the Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce and the Tamarind Dipping Sauce. I doubled the sauces by making two batches of each one – one with Truvia and one with sugar. There was no difference in taste so I wouldn’t hesitate to use Truvia again. I found it was not necessary to double the sauces. We had quite a bit left over.

Everyone loved the chicken! It’s delicious even without the dipping sauces because the marinade delivers so much flavor.

The Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce was really good, but the Tamarind Dipping Sauce was outstanding and was everyone’s favorite.

This Chiang Mai Chicken is a great recipe to make when you have a leisurely afternoon. It’s easy, but you need to give it that precise 2-hour marinating time. The Tamarind Dipping Sauce takes a bit of time to make, but it is worth it. If you can’t find tamarind pulp or just want something that’s simpler, you won’t be disappointed with the Chili-Lime Sauce. Honestly, you’ll love this chicken as is with just a squeeze of lime juice!

Chiang Mai Chicken served with Cauliflower “Rice”

Chiang Mai Chicken with Cauliflower rice


Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang)

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

(print the recipe)

Serves 8 (cut the ingredients in half for 4 servings)


Special equipment that makes it easier:

2-gallon zip-close bag

A large sheet pan

An oven-safe cooling rack that fits in the sheet pan

Heavy duty foil


Some of the ingredients for the marinade and the sauces

some ingredients

Lemon grass, ends trimmed and the hard outer layers peeled off


Marinade ingredients

2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 cup fish sauce

1 cup soy sauce

½ cup packed light brown sugar (or 6 packets of Truvia)

2 lemon grass stalks, ends trimmed, bottom 8 inches chopped

8 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoons white peppercorns


Other ingredients

6 pounds chicken parts (I used 12 chicken thighs)

1 cup kosher salt

Lime wedges, to serve (optional)


  1. Put all of the marinade ingredients (the cilantro through the white peppercorns) in a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade for a glaze.
  3. Pour the rest of the marinade in a 2-gallon zip-close bag. Put the chicken in the bag skin-side down and spread it out as best as you can. Seal the bag; put it in a large baking dish in the refrigerator. Marinate the chicken for 2 hours, turning it over a time or two. (While the chicken is marinating, you can make the Tamarind Dipping Sauce and/or the Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce – recipes follow this one.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 400° and put the oven rack in the center of the oven.
  5. Line a large sheet pan with foil. Spread 1 cup of kosher salt over the foil. Place a wire rack over the salt. (The salt prevents the marinade from burning when it drips off of the chicken.)

Kosher salt in the baking sheet


wire rack over the salt


6. Put the chicken on the rack. Roast for 30 minutes.

Chicken ready to roast

Chiang Mai Chicken ready to roast

7. Brush the chicken with the reserved marinade and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until the thighs measure 175°F (160°F for breasts).

8. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes and then serve with lime wedges, Tamarind Dipping Sauce, or Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce.

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

Makes about ¾ cup


½ cup lime juice (4 – 6 limes)

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons light brown sugar (or 3 small packets of Truvia)

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce


Stir all ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.  Keeps refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Chili-Lime Chili Sauce

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce



Tamarind Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

Makes about 3 cups


Tamarind pulp found at an Asian grocery near me

Tamarind paste

2 ounces tamarind pulp

2 oz tamarind paste


2 lemon grass stalks, ends trimmed, bottom 8 inches chopped

1 large shallot, chopped

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 serrano chili, stemmed and chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

2½ cups water

2 ounces tamarind pulp (about ¼ cup)

5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (or 7½ small packets of Truvia)

¼ cup fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (1 – 2 limes)

Ground black pepper


  1. Put the lemon grass, shallot, oil, and chili in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until it is just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

shallot, lemon grass, and chili


2. Add the tomato paste and the ginger and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

tomato paste and ginger added


3. Add water, tamarind pulp, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat so it is just simmering and simmer for 15 minutes.

water, tamarind pulp and sugar added

4. Take off the heat and stir in the fish sauce and soy sauce.

5. Let the sauce cool a bit and then pour it into a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

6. Pour the sauce through a wire mesh, pressing on the solids. Throw out the solids.

7. Stir the lime juice into the sauce.

8. Season to taste with pepper.

9. Keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.


Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Tamarind dipping sauce


Chiang Mai Chicken with Cauliflower rice - Copy


Milk Street Magazine



6 Comments leave one →
  1. lostinapot2017 permalink
    May 5, 2017 1:44 am

    Kath – As usual, another great post. As far as we’re concerned, you can’t go wrong with Thai.
    The tip on Milk Street Magazine was great. I checked it out and they have a digital subscription. Perfect for us.

    • May 5, 2017 7:14 am

      I had hesitated to subscribe to Milk Street Magazine, wondering if I need another food magazine, but I’m glad I did! I think you’ll like it.

  2. August 10, 2017 5:25 pm

    Lemongrass – yum yum. Thanks.

    • August 11, 2017 7:39 am

      It’s great in this recipe, Carole. Thanks for your comment! 🙂


  1. Classic Margaritas | In the kitchen with Kath
  2. Happy New Year! | In the kitchen with Kath

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: