milk&honey cafe

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kids, Do Try This at Home: Ping Gai Chicken

Hey friends! Have you ever tried something at a restaurant and thought it tasted so good that you wished you could sneak into the kitchen and snatch their recipe? Or something so delicious that it inspired you to try to make it at home? Well, I have many many times and with the help of a few websites and friends I was able successfully recreate a few in my own kitchen. It's such an amazing feeling when it works out and actually tastes like the real thing!

So I just thought I'd have a little section in my blog where I post up some of my favourite successful "copy" stories. And it's pretty much a guarantee that the recipe I'm posting will be DELICIOUS because I won't be putting it up if it wasn't up to par.

Ping Gui Chicken

Meet Ping Gai Chicken. I first was introduced to Ping Gai by my previous boss. And this gentleman was a man of high taste and a discerning palate. He was also a fanatic for Ping Gai Chicken. Not only would he take his favourite clients or colleagues to the restaurant which served this dish, he would have to go at least once a month for his monthly "Ping Gai Fix". He called it an addiction. It's from a restaurant called Queen Mother Cafe, on Queen St W in Toronto. Anyways, with all that said, I went to check it out myself and indeeeed it was a fantastic bbq chicken. This tender and crispy chicken possesses so many layers of flavours and leaves a lasting impression. But it also costs a pretty penny when you eat it at the restaurant.

Fortunately, one of my coworkers found the actual recipe posted online, courtesy of the kitchen at Queen Mother Cafe reported by Toronto Star Newspaper! All of us tried it at home, and all of us were extremely satisfied. This recipe was a definite keeper.

I've made this chicken on different occasions with big groups of people, and it's always been all the rage. It is now my go-to recipe for impressing the guests. My only apology is to the friends that I promised to post this recipe a LONG time ago but am only getting around to do it now!

Ping Gui Chicken

Ping Gui Chicken

Just a few more things about this recipe:
• This is a Laos dish, for those who were curious.
• The main ingredient for the marinade is in fact loathed by many people: Cilantro or Coriander. BUT, this recipe somehow turns it into a miraculously delicious marinade. Trust me people, it doesn't taste like the cilantro you know. All my cilantro-hating friends could not believe how delicious it tasted. I promise you!!
• Another magical part of this recipe is the dipping sauce. I caution you, you might want to just drink it out of the little bowl when you try it. What I usually do is I pretend that I've accidentally dropped it in the little bowl and take an extra long time picking it back up, when in fact I just wanted the chicken to soak it all up. :)

Ping Gai Chicken

by Queen Mother Cafe from
Yields 6 portions


4 lb Chicken Thighs, skin-on and deboned

1 bunch Fresh Cilantro
6 cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Black peppercorns
3 tbsp Oyster sauce
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil

dipping sauce
1 cup Water
1/2 cups Sugar
3 sprigs Fresh Cilantro
2 cloves Garlic
2 tbsp White Vinegar
1 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp Thai Garlic Chili Pepper Sauce
1 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce


Marinade: Put the washed bunch of cilantro, including stems and roots, into food processor with garlic and peppercorns. Process until finely chopped. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce and oil; process until combined. Or you can blend it all together in a blender.

Place chicken in shallow glass baking dish. Brush all over with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight in refrigerator.

Dipping sauce: Combine water and sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until dissolved. Continue cooking 10 minutes or until reduced and syrupy. Cool completely. Add to food processor with cilantro, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, garlic chili pepper sauce and fish sauce. Process until smooth. Again, you can do this in a blender.

Preheat BBQ to medium high. (If broiling, preheat broiler and cook on wire rack set in baking pan or on cookie sheet.)

Place chicken pieces, skin side down, on greased grill. (Place skin side up if broiling.) Close BBQ lid. Cook about 8 minutes or until skin is crispy and chicken is almost cooked through.

Turn chicken. Close lid; cook chicken 6 minutes more or until cooked through. SIDE NOTE: The chicken is going to get quite black because the herb-y marinade. It might look slightly burnt, but in fact, that's how it is supposed to look. Don't be too worried if it gets dark.

Chop into 1-inch pieces. Serve with dipping sauce.


  1. I'm one of those cilantro-haters, but you've sold me on this recipe. Ps: It's good to have you back.

  2. I was so hungry looking at the photos until I read cilantro and I cringed. You know I make guacamole without it too! Sigh, I don't know if I dare to try this recipe, despite having it almost sold to me by you... washing and cutting it will release aromas I cannot tolerate :(

  3. cilantro is probably my favourite thing ever. sorry Cheryl. You lose! :P

  4. My hunny is laos and i've been looking EVERYWHERE for a good ping gai recipe, but they're all american-ized. This one sounds amazing!

  5. Amazing! Surprised I've never heard of it, what with my love of Laotian food, though I'm tempted to try it now. Have all the ingredients on hand -- yippee!

    Cheers and thanks for the recipe,


  6. Question: We're making this tomorrow night and wonder what an appropriate side dish (or two) might be... Thanks!


  7. @arcadia: yes! you are making the right decision. It'll turn you into a cilantro-believer.

    @cheryl: dear, you are toootally missing out. But if it's the preparing cilantro part that is scaring you, maybe one day, one day, I'll be able to just cook it for you. :)

    @samjm: SAM! Make it for Mike! I'm sure he'd looove it!

    @life as seen by an eccentric: this was actually the first and only laos dish I've tried, but it definitely was a great introduction! I hope you like this recipe. I have a good feeling about it.

    @squirrelbread: Jasmine rice is a must! And I once served it with a mango salad with shallots. Another time I made an arugula salad topped with mango and avocado with peanut coconut-milk dressing. If you want some extra meat, it tastes really good with grilled shrimp with curry powder on it. :)

  8. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. AIHL

  9. I used to live in Toronto, and LOVE the Queen Mother, and this dish specifically was always my favourite! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe - made it tonight and it was amazing :)