Dai Grilled Chicken

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Like their cousins the Lao, the Dai are brilliant at grilling. Here chicken on the bone is slowly grilled over low heat until succulent. It’s rubbed with a blend of crushed garlic and pepper-salt before grilling, so it has a moist spiced crust when it comes off the grill. Absolutely delicious, and any leftovers are wonderful the next day.

Serve on a platter, so guests can help themselves. Accompany with sticky rice or jasmine rice, as well as Dai Tart Green Salsa or  Dai Carrot Salad.

Serves6 as a main course

Cooking Methodgrilling


Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentgrill, mortar and pestle

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, meaty, savory, smoky, spiced


  • 3 pounds whole chicken legs and/or breasts
  • 3 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons dry-toasted Sichuan peppercorns, ground
  • 1½ teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper


  1. Use a cleaver to chop the legs into 4 pieces each, whole breasts into 4 to 6 pieces. Rinse and place in a wide bowl. Set aside.

  2. Place the garlic in a mortar or a small bowl, add the salt, and mash with a pestle or the back of a wooden spoon to blend. Add both peppers and blend together.

  3. Add the flavor rub to the pieces of chicken and use your hands to rub it all over them. Set aside, covered, while you prepare your grilling arrangement (refrigerate if the wait will be longer than half an hour).

  4. Prepare a low fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-hot.

  5. Place the chicken on the grill, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through; turn occasionally, working quickly and replacing the lid as soon as possible to keep in the moisture and heat. Serve hot.

  6. DAI ROAST CHICKEN: This rub of mashed garlic with pepper-salt makes a wonderful coating for roast chicken. Wash and dry the chicken. Stir a tablespoon of oil into the flavor blend and then rub it all over the chicken before roasting at 400°F. This amount of rub will do for a small chicken (under 3 pounds); scale up in proportion if cooking a larger bird.


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