Kai yang (Thai: ไก่ย่าง, pronounced [kàj jâːŋ], lit. meaning "grilled chicken") or ping gai (Lao: ປິງໄກ່ [pîŋ ɡaj]) is a dish originating from the Lao people of Laos and Isan (northeastern Thailand), but it is now commonly eaten throughout the whole of Thailand. The dish is a standard staple of street markets and readily available at all times. Being a typical Laotian/Isan dish, it is often paired with green papaya salad and sticky rice (Thai/Isan: ข้าวเหนียว; [kʰâːw nǐow]; Lao: ເຂົ້າໜຽວ). It is also eaten with raw vegetables, and often dipped in spicy sauces such as Laotian jaew bong.
In Thailand there are also many famous Thai Muslim varieties of kai yang which are not of Lao origin at all, but more akin to the grilled chicken from Malaysia.
The Laotian name for the dish is ປິງໄກ່ ([pîŋ ɡaj]) and means "roast chicken". In Laotian restaurants in the West, it is known as "Laotian barbecued chicken" or "ping gai". The Thai and Isan term is usually spelled ไก่ย่าง (kai yang; Isan: [kàj ɲâːŋ]), although ปิ้งไก่ (ping kai), a Thai letter rendering of the Laotian name, would be understood in Isan and in most of Thailand as well although to Thai ears it would sound a bit quaint, due to the slight grammatical difference between Thai and Laotian. Thais would put kai before ping rather than the other way round. In the West, where this dish often features on the menu of Thai restaurants, it is either known by its Thai name "kai yang" or as "Thai barbecued chicken".
Ingredients and preparation
A whole chicken is often halved and pounded flat. It is marinated and then grilled over a low heat on a charcoal flame for a long time, but is not cooked to be burnt or dry. The marinade typically includes fish sauce, garlic, turmeric, coriander root (cilantro), and white pepper. Many variations exist, and it is also quite common to find black soy sauce, hoisin sauce, shallots, leaves and seeds of coriander, lemongrass, chilis, ginger, vinegar, palm sugar, and MSG. Compared to many Laotian/Isan dishes, it is mild and somewhat sweet.
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