When you think of Thai food, soup or stir fried dishes may first come to your mind owing to famous Thai dishes like Tom Yum soup or Pad Thai. However, Thai BBQ is also delicious and have special features like the marination process and special sauces. Learn more about what makes this BBQ dish special in this post!
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What is Thai BBQ?
In general, Thai BBQ refers to grilled meat, primarily pork and chicken. This is because they are the most common meat options in Thailand. Thais traditionally use charcoal for grilling, and this is still being practiced today. As you might know, charcoal grilled meat carries a nice and unique charcoal fragrance.
One key factor that makes this type of BBQ special is the long marination process that makes the meat flavourful and tender. Moreover, it often uses a wide range of herbs and seasoning for marination that lasts for a few hours to overnight. Common herbs & seasoning include:
- Oyster sauce
- Light soy sauce
- White pepper
- Coriander’s roots
- A bit of sugar
Another factor that makes Thai BBQ unique is the sauce, which we will cover more of this later.
Wongnai has a few recipe for Thai style marination here.
Popular BBQ pork and chicken dishes
Thai people make use of a wide range of pork and chicken parts in BBQ, some of which you may not be very familiar with.
BBQ pork can range from the standard meat to pork belly and pork neck. Thai people also have BBQ pork skewers with sticky rice for breakfast! Moreover BBQ pork belly is a popular component of a Som Tum meal. Lastly you may also find unusual parts like BBQ pork intestine and pork ear in Thailand as well.
If you visit a BBQ specialist in Thailand (usually street vendors), you will find almost all chicken parts starting from chicken breast, thigh, drum stick, wings to even parts like chicken butt, gizzard, heart, liver or chicken feet! You can also opt to BBQ a whole chicken which can be more affordable overall if you eat all chicken parts.
Thai BBQ sauce
Thai people love sauces so this local-style BBQ is often served with the special local BBQ sauce. The two most common sauces include Thai chicken sauce and Nam Jim Jaew.
Thai chicken sauce
While the name suggests that this sauce is great with chicken, Thai chicken sauce is great for all grilled and fried food. This includes any meat, seafood or spring rolls. The sauce is red in color and you will see some chili inside. However this sauce is mostly sweet and not really spicy. Most people find this sauce a perfect companion for any BBQ item!
This sauce is quite popular. In fact, McDonald’s even offers it in overseas markets like Hong Kong where they charge customers extra for this sauce.
Nam Jim Jaew
Unlike the sweet Thai chicken sauce, Nam Jim Jaew mostly tastes spicy and sour. The sauce is made from a wide range of seasonings and it is perfect for both BBQ chicken and pork. We have a dedicated article to talk about Nam Jim Jaew in case you are interested.
Thai seafood dipping sauce
Another signature Thai sauce that typically goes with grilled/boiled/steamed seafood in Thailand. This spicy and sour sauce also goes well with grilled meat!
Thai satay BBQ
The topic about Thai BBQ would not be complete without the satay BBQ. We put Thai satay BBQ under a different category as it typically has a different marination process and sauce.
In Thailand, satay generally refers to BBQ pork skewers which have a unique marination process. Marination process for the the satay BBQ uses herbs like galangal, lemongrass, coriander seeds, pepper along with other key ingredients like turmeric, curry powder and coconut milk.
There are 2 types of sauce that is always served with the satay BBQ:
- Ar Jad sauce: a transparent sauce mixed with fresh vegetables like cucumber, shallot and coriander leaves. It gives a sweet & sour taste, which is refreshing when served with fresh vegetables
- Satay sauce: a mixture of curry powder and coconut milk together with peanut (watch out for those of you who are allergic to peanuts). The sauce is sweet with a hint of spiciness and it has milkiness from coconut milk and peanuts.
When you think of BBQ in Asia, you may start thinking of something similar to Japanese yakiniku or Korean BBQ. The types of Thai BBQ we talk about may give off a different image than other Asian counterparts. Just like how Japan has both yakitori (BBQ skewer) and yakiniku, Thailand also has its own BBQ that we described above and Mookata.
Mookata is the closest thing to yakiniku or Korean BBQ in Thai cuisine. However, we will cover this topic in another article.
Is Thai BBQ delicious?
Yes, we love meat and we find the meat preparation in this type of BBQ really creates very fragrant, herby and delicious meat. We love the unique sauces available for Thai BBQ as well. Our personal favorite will be the Nam Jim Jaew, as we love both spicy and sour, and not sweet taste. If you love meat and BBQ, definitely you should try Thai-style BBQ and compare it with other types of BBQ you have had before.
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