~ My Basic Thai Marinade for Grilled Poultry or Pork ~
For those who love Thai food, your search for an all-purpose marinade and method of cooking some chicken or pork, to bring the bold flavors of Thailand to your American dinner tables without consuming too much time, muss or fuss, is over. Fact: When it comes to our food, just when we should slow down, relax and make more time for our family and friends, we Americans always seem to be in a hurry. While "eat and run" is not my style, this is my "go to" marinade, which produces succulent, full-throttle Thai-flavored chicken or pork, relatively quickly. It's perfect to use the next day in a Thai-Style wrap, sandwich, salad or on a Thai pizza too. After marinating the meat a few hours or overnight, I grill it indoors in my grill pan or outdoors on my gas grill.
Marination (which does not affect the cooking time), is a flavorizer not a tenderizer.
As a huge fan of Thai food, like many American cooks, I find myself improvising occasionally. Not, of course, when I'm preparing one of their many classic dishes (like Thai-Style Oven-Roasted Barbecued Half Chicken or Grilled Chicken or Pork Satay) -- they require specific ingredients and a traditional method of cooking. Improvisation enters my food world when I'm preparing one of my flash-in-the pan meals (a meal where the protein gets quickly grilled, grill-panned, pan-seared or broiled). This all-purpose marinade, which contains many flavors basic to Thai fare, is my secret to imparting that all-important extra-layer of flavor into into my meal.
Simple, straightforward & scrumptiously to the point:
I'm grilling chicken for our dinner tonight, but I love grilled pork too. That said, whichever meat I choose to use, I always choose to use the tenderloin. Why? Because it stays remarkably juicier and moister than boneless, skinless chicken breasts or pork loin when subjected to the high, dry heat of any type of grill or grill pan.
2-4 pounds whole, boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, about 10-20 large tenderloins, or, 2-4 pounds whole pork tenderloins, 2-4 tenderloins
1/4 cup each: honey, lime juice, &, Thai seasoning soy sauce
2 tablespoons each: Thai fish sauce & sesame oil
1 tablespoon each: garlic paste & ginger paste
1/4 cup each: minced cilantro leaves & thinly-sliced green onion
1-2 small, hot, cayenne chile peppers, minced, or, 1 teaspoon Sriracha seasoning blend
Option One: Grilling whole chicken tenderloins:
~ Step 1. Sandwich tenderloins between two pieces of plastic wrap on a flat work surface. Using a flat-sided meat mallet, lightly pound them to a thickness of about 1/2" -- do not smash them to smithereens.
~ Step 2. In a 1-cup measuring container, stir together all the marinade ingredients. Pour marinade into a 1-gallon food storage bag, add the pounded tenderloins, seal bag and toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for about 4-6 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1-1 1/2 hours prior to grilling.
~Step 3. On the stovetop in a grill pan, on the countertop in an electric grill, or outdoors on a gas grill, spray grill grids with no-stick cooking spray and heat the grids over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade (allowing excess marinade to drizzle back into the bag), place tenderloins, side-by-side on hot grill grids and cook until golden and just cooked through on both sides, turning only once, 7-9 total minutes, about 4-5 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the second side, regulating the heat carefully, as the honey in the marinade (like sugar) can scorch. Transfer the meat to a plate and repeat process with remaining tenders. Read on:
Note: Whether grilling in a grill pan on the stovetop, an electric grill on the countertop, or a gas grill outdoors on the patio, work in batches that are sized to comfortably fit the surface area of the grill, as well as your ability to manage the quantity, meaning: know your own limitations.
~Step 1. Using a thin, sharp knife or a pair of kitchen shears, judiciously trim or snip tenderloins of any thick silverskin or excessive fat from their surfaces. In a 1-cup measuring container or a small bowl, stir together all of the marinade ingredients as listed. Pour the marinade into a 1-gallon food storage bag, add the tenderloins, seal the bag and toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for 4-6 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1-1 1/2 hours prior to grilling.
~Step 2. On the stovetop in a grill pan, on the countertop in an electric grill, or outdoors on a gas grill, spray grill grids with no-stick cooking spray and heat the grids over medium heat. Remove tenderloins from marinade (allowing excess marinade to drizzle back into the bag), place tenderloins, side-by-side on hot grill grids and cook until golden and just cooked through on both sides, turning only once, about 6-7 minutes per side (for an initial total of 12-14 minutes).
~Step 3. With the aid of a spatula or a pair of tongs, working one-tenderloin-at-a-time, roll each tenderloin, left then right, onto its two un-seared sides, to put a quick sear on them as well, about 1 minute per tenderloin. Lower the heat to medium-low and, once again, continue to cook tenderloins on both sides, turning only once, about 6-7 minutes per side, or, until a meat-thermometer inserted into the thickest part of their centers reads 145º-150º.
The total cooking time for four tenderloins is approximately 28-32 minutes.
Turn the heat source off and allow the pork tenderloins to remain on the warm grill grids (or transfer them to the upper rack of an outdoor gas grill), about 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally during this rest period, prior to slicing, thick or thin, and serving as directed in specific recipe.
Special Equipment List: plastic wrap; flat-sided meat mallet; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-cup measuring container; 1-gallon food-storage bag; grill pan on stovetop, electric countertop grill, or, outdoor gas grill; spatula or tongs; instant-read meat thermometer
Cook's Note: If you are a lover of Tex-Mex fare too, I just happen to have a go-to marinade for that too. Try my garlic & onion powder, Mexican oregano, chili powder and lime laced ~ Tex-Mex Marinade for Beef, Poultry or Pork ~.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)