An unexpected ingredient is key to Marion Grasby’s Thai chicken recipe. “Everyone’s got that bottle of bitters in the liquor cabinet,” says the cook, author and oracle of Thai-inspired cuisine. “You kind of don’t think of it as something to cook with. But we know alcohol can add beautiful flavours and complexities, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
Grasby is talking about Angostura aromatic bitters – a tonic made from a secret recipe of potent herbal flavours that dates back to the early 1800s – which she likes to incorporate in a typically Thai-style grilled chicken recipe.
“I was thinking about lemon, lime and bitters,” says Grasby. “Obviously having a Thai background, the first thing that came to mind was lemon, lime, Thai flavours, chillies, spicy things – it all kind of made sense to me.” The result is a citrusy, sweet and tangy riff on a Thai classic that features a few nods to Angostura’s home of Trinidad and Tobago. “It’s a little bit Thai, a little bit jerk-style,” says Grasby. “Because bitters does originally come from Trinidad and Tobago, I was like, ‘Wow, on an intellectual level that really makes sense.’ It’s full circle.”
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Putting it all together
Grasby’s recipe is all about the bitters-infused marinade, which makes it ideal for the home cook. “Marinades in general are a really easy way to up the flavour stakes in whatever you’re doing,” says Grasby. She’s also well aware of time constraints when it comes to making dinner. So while the recipe calls for the chicken to marinate overnight, those rules can be broken. “If I can’t do overnight, two hours will do,” says Grasby. “But, you know, I’m a mum with two kids, so typically I still only do 10 minutes because it’s all I’ve got.”
Watching the oven and not just relying on a timer is the key to success here. “Whenever you’re cooking with a marinade, you have to keep an eye on both heat and how much the marinade is going to char,” says Grasby. “You want to cook the chicken before you’ve got the sugars in your marinade burning too much on the outside.” A little char is perfect, but if things are starting to look too dark before the chicken is ready, Grasby recommends turning the oven right down and finishing it off gently.
To serve, Grasby reduces the marinade to a sticky glaze and serves it with some rice and crunchy lettuce leaves. It would also be a winner at summer barbeques. “You can either be pulling the chicken apart, shoving it in your lettuce leaf and drizzling with sauce, or you can eat it fork and knife style with your rice,” says Grasby. “I reckon it’d also be a great one with whatever you’re serving with your barbeque – potato salad, coleslaw, roast potatoes.”
Marion Grasby’s lemon, lime and bitters Thai chicken
Preparation time: 5 minutes (plus overnight marinating)
Cooking time: 40 minutes
4 chicken marylands, cut in half to form 8 pieces
¼ cup white sugar
Thai sticky rice, to serve
Baby cos leaves, to serve
Lemon, lime and bitters marinade
4 makrut lime leaves, destemmed
1 lime (zest and juice)
1 lemon (zest and juice)
3–4 red bird’s-eye chillies
5 garlic cloves
4 coriander roots
1 tbsp grated ginger
4 Asian red shallots, roughly chopped
3 tbsp brown sugar
60ml Angostura Aromatic Bitters
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce
1 tsp sea salt
To make lemon, lime and bitters marinade, place all ingredients in a food processor. Blitz to a super fine paste.
Transfer the marinade to a large bowl. Add the chicken. Mix to ensure the chicken pieces are coated all over, then cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 190°C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place an ovenproof cooking rack on top of the lined tray. Arrange chicken pieces on top of the rack. Cook chicken in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden in colour.
While the chicken is in the oven, pour the leftover marinade into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Add the sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture has a sticky jam consistency. Remove from the heat and set aside for later.
Remove the chicken from the oven and drizzle each piece with a little chilli jam mixture. Return the tray to the oven and cook for a further 5–10 minutes, or until the pieces are caramelised.
Serve while warm with sticky rice, baby cos and extra chilli jam on the side.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Angostura.