Sweet and Sour Bangkok-Style Chicken with Chiles

Are you surviving in this busy baking season?? Truth be told I’m not sure if I am!!  I feel like a bear preparing for hibernation; I’m constantly “foraging” and grazing as I go back and forth cooking and baking.  I don’t seem to be getting enough food in me because I’m constantly hungry!!  I’m going up and down the stairs trying to take care of things, kneading and mixing, washing, wiping, oh my gosh, would it ever end?!  During this crazy time,  do you know what really hits the spot?  This Sweet and Sour Bangkok-Style Chicken with Chiles!  I’m benefiting from Andrew Zimmern’s (host of Bizarre Foods) persistence in getting this recipe from a Thai café in Penang.  This chicken dish is filled with lemongrass, garlic and other spices you feel instant energy welling up within you!  Definitely something I need to eat during this busy season!


  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 8 shallots, chopped (2 cups)
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, tender inner white part only, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 12 small skinless, boneless chicken thighs (3 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 Thai red chiles
  • 5 dried árbol chiles, split lengthwise and seeds removed

  1. In a heatproof bowl, soak the árbol chiles in the boiling water until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain the chiles. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the árbol chiles with the Thai chiles, lemongrass, shallots and garlic and puree until smooth.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the turmeric, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add half of the chicken thighs and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes total; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  3. Add the chile puree to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, sugar and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer over moderately low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium pot of salted boiling water, cook the carrots until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes; drain. Add the carrots and peas to the chicken and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mint and season with salt. Transfer the chicken to a platter and spoon the sauce over the top.


Make Ahead
The cooked chicken can be refrigerated in the sauce overnight.
Serve With Steamed rice.

My opinion:  What a beautiful union between tangy vinegar, spicy Thai chili, lemony lemongrass, and KETCHUP!!  This is one happy chicken dish and you will feel even happier eating this!! 

To make the process a little less messy (because I’m on this deadline of baking cookies), I baked the spiced chicken in the oven (400F for about 20 minutes), and followed the instructions thereafter. 

Note:  Fresh lemongrass are so aromatic and nice, however, if you want to conserve time, you can get already sliced frozen lemongrass in many Chinese/Vietnamese markets.  To be honest with you, I think the frozen kind is still aromatic and tastes wonderful. 

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If you can’t find dried árbol chiles (they are thin, long and red peppers and you can find these in Mexican markets), go ahead and use the dried Asian red peppers sold at many Asian markets. 


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