Wow, this was a great dish. Bon Appetit July 2012 featured several Malaysian grilling recipes from Zac Pelaccio, chef/owner of New York’s Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue. Chef Pelaccio spent a year in Malaysia and brought back many Southeast Asian flavors to go along with his more classical training. The Bon Appetit feature included four recipes for grilling, and I tried the chicken recipe and paired it with the grilled vegetable recipe. A marinade is made by blending together turmeric, coconut milk, jalepeno, shallots, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and tamarind concentrate (which is sold at Ranch 99 in California.) I used boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, but the recipe calls for chicken wings. After the chicken is marinated overnight, the marinade is heated in a saucepan and divided in half, with half being used to baste the chicken during grilling and the other half used as a dipping sauce at the table. This is an interesting technique I have not come across before. Bon Appetit mentions layers of flavor, and this analysis is spot on. The marinade infuses the meat with a ton of flavor. The crispiness of the skin from grilling leads to more flavor via the maillard reaction. The marinade as dipping sauce adds yet more flavor with the delicious combination of coconut milk, heat from jalepenos, spice from turmeric and ginger, sweetness from tamarind, and brightness of the lemongrass. Definitely worth doing and adding to the repertoire!
The grilled vegetable recipe, Grilled Vegetable and Rice Salad with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, nicely complements the chicken and was good, but not at the heights of the chicken recipe. A mix of grilled vegetables (corn, okra, zucchini, eggplant) are dressed with a vinaigrette made from pureed Anaheim peppers, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, which gives the vegetables a bit of Southeast Asian flavor.
Link to grilled chicken recipe here.
Link to grilled vegetable recipe here.