Sneak Peek: Garlic pepper chicken from Pai Chongchitnant's new cookbook

A simple Thai recipe from the woman behind Hot Thai Kitchen

Image for Sneak Peek: Garlic pepper chicken from Pai Chongchitnant's new cookbook
Photo and recipe provided by Appetite by Random House.

While so many Canadians know the joy that is eating Thai food, not many have experience with cooking it at home.

YouTube star and author Pai Chongchitnant has long been conduit between her country's cuisine and eager home cooks in Canada (and around the globe) by way of her wildly popular YouTube channel Pailin's Kitchen and her first cookbook, Hot Thai Kitchen. With 1.72 million subscribers on YouTube and hundreds of thousands of followers across other platforms, the proof is in the pudding when it comes to this Vancouver-based talent.

Her new cookbook, Sabai: 100 Simple Thai Recipes For Any Day of the Week, will be released on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, by Appetite by Random House and aims to further inspire home cooks to better understand, appreciate and explore the wide world that is Thai cooking.

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"This is one of the most basic items you can get at a raan kao gaeng, a type of restaurant in Thailand where an array of ready-to-eat dishes are laid out on big trays and in pots, and you choose a couple of things to go on top of your rice. Chicken (or pork) is marinated in the ultimate Thai trinity of umami sauces: oyster, soy, and fish. It’s stir-fried in garlic oil, with enough pepper to give it a little heat without it being spicy, then topped with golden, crispy fried garlic. It’s super kid-friendly as well, not having any pesky vegetables to pick out and whatnot," says Pai Chongchitnant in the introduction to the recipe in her new cookbook.

Try the recipe for yourself and revel in its deliciousness.

Garlic pepper chicken

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs

1 pound (450 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

1 tablespoon (15 ml) water

1 tablespoon (15 ml) oyster sauce

2 teaspoons (10 ml) soy sauce

2 teaspoons (10 ml) fish sauce

1½ teaspoons (7 ml) granulated sugar

½ teaspoon (2 ml) ground white or black pepper

3 tablespoons (45 ml) neutral oil

8 cloves (40 g) garlic, chopped

¼ teaspoon (1 ml) black or dark soy sauce, plus more as needed (optional)

7 to 8 cilantro sprigs, chopped, plus extra for garnish

Cooked jasmine rice and side of vegetables, enough for serving

Slice the chicken into ½-inch (1.2 cm) thick strips, and once you get to the thick part of the breast, cut each piece horizontally in half to even out the size. Place the chicken in a mixing bowl and add the water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper. Marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

While the chicken marinates, fry the garlic. Place a small pot on medium-low heat, then add the oil and one “test” piece of chopped garlic. Once the garlic is bubbling, add the remaining garlic, then turn the heat down to low. Fry gently, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden but not browned, about 5 minutes—browning will cause the garlic to become bitter. Strain the garlic through a metal sieve, reserving the oil.

Place a wok or large skillet over high heat and add the garlic oil. Once the oil is very hot, add the chicken and spread it into one layer, letting it sear without moving it until starting to brown on the underside and at least halfway cooked, about 2 minutes. Toss the chicken and stir-fry until fully cooked. At this point, if you want, you can add the black soy sauce, ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) at a time, until the desired color is reached.

Turn off the heat, then toss in half of the fried garlic and chopped cilantro to taste. Plate and top with the remaining fried garlic and more cilantro, if desired. Serve with jasmine rice and a side of vegetables.

Do-ahead tip: Marinate the chicken and/or make the fried garlic 1 day in advance.

Serves 4
Prep Time:
5 minutes
Cook Time:
25 minutes