Lao Grilled Chicken (Pieng Gai) is one of the most common dishes in a Laotian household. The base of the marinate is oyster sauce that provides so much flavor and umami. Pair it with sticky rice and green papaya salad and you have the holy trinity of Lao comfort food!
Lao Grilled Chicken or pieng (grilled) gai (chicken) was the go-to protein growing up. Every Lao household has a variation of this recipe, but the one common ingredient is the oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is an essential ingredient in a lot of Lao cooking.
It’s a great marinade, stir fry sauce, and condiment if you are looking for a strong umami flavor in your dishes. It complements well with other everyday sauces used in a Lao kitchen like fish sauce and soy sauce.
If you can’t have oyster sauce because of allergies or dietary purposes there are vegetarian versions out there, and recipes for ones that are paleo friendly.
Now onto these Lao grilled chicken. Though they’re called Lao grilled chicken, you don’t necessarily have to grill the chicken. You can bake, broil, and/or air fry the chicken if grilling isn’t your thing. The goal is to get golden crispy skin and super juicy chicken meat.
I don’t recommend frying the wings but we all know my aversion to deep frying. Plus, I like keeping some of the marinade on the chicken so it caramelizes. Frying it requires removing the marinade.
Growing up we ate these wings with sticky rice and green papaya salad. The holy trinity of Lao comfort food! However, you can serve this chicken anyway you like, but if you want a glimpse of my childhood, eat it with sticky rice and papaya salad or a spicy dipping sauce.
A few things to ensure you get the best Lao Grilled Chicken (Pieng Gai):
- The marinade can be made to your liking. Love garlic? Add more garlic cloves? Don’t like cilantro? You can omit it.
- Any cut of chicken can be used! I like wings since you can quickly cook them, but chicken thighs work too. You can even roast a whole chicken!
- If you want to prep these chicken for later, marinate the chicken in a ziplock bag or container and freeze the chicken. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, just thaw, and then cook.
- If you want the chicken to cook even faster, you can make slits on the skin side of the chicken.
- Like I mentioned, if you can’t have oyster sauce there are vegetarian and gluten free versions out there. My friend ChihYu from I Heart Umami has a paleo version on her website.
- If you really really can’t have oyster sauce or any variation, you can add more fish sauce to the marinade.
I hope you enjoy this childhood favorite recipe of mine! If you make it, be sure to tag me on Instagram so I can see. I love when ya’ll make a recipe of mine.
Lao Grilled Chicken (Pieng Gai)
Pat chicken wings dry, add to a bowl or ziplock alongside all of the ingredients.
Mix until everything is well combined and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Air fryer method: add chicken wings to basket and cook for 22 minutes at 360F shaking halfway through.
Grill method: over medium-high heat for 20-22 minutes flipping halfway through.
Broil method: broil for 20 minutes flipping halfway through.
Serve with sticky rice!