W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M TAP KAI / TAP PET PING Grilled chicken / duck liver skewers When I stagger onto the street after one-too-many whiskeys, I follow the smell of charcoal smoke to the vendors selling chicken parts on wooden skewers. Next to a rudimentary brazier, there’s probably a banana leaf–lined table with all manner of charred meat and offal along with, perhaps, whole fish and small sausage links. Spend some time watching the operation and you might be surprised to see a customer grab a couple of skewers and place them on the grill himself to warm them up. Now that’s not something you’d see at a New York City kebab cart. These grilled-meat depositories are typically run by people from Isaan, who have left their homes in the traditionally poor Northeast to find work, often manual labor. During the day, you’ll find these setups near construction sites, outside factories, and next to other places where Isaan workers toil. The food is cheap, a few baht a skewer, and damn good. Some vendors set out a stack of herbs for the taking, as well as an array of condiments, sauces, and naam phrik, fiery and pungent all of them. Chicken livers (or duck livers, if you can find them) are one of my go-to skewers. Treat them right—a garlic-and-cilantro-root marinade and fiery, aromatic jaew for dipping—and they will treat you right. ◊ makes about 6 skewers SPECIAL EQUIPMENT A Thai granite mortar and pestle 6 wooden skewers, each about 8 inches / 20 cm long, soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes A grill, preferably charcoal (highly recommended), grate oiled 1 pound / 455 g chicken or duck livers 15 g / 5 peeled garlic cloves, halved lengthwise 3 g / 3 cilantro roots 4 g / 1½ teaspoons black peppercorns 3 tablespoons Thai thin soy sauce 1½ teaspoons Thai sweet soy sauce 3 g / ¾ teaspoon granulated sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml Jaew (Isaan dipping sauce), recipe below Rinse the livers under cold running water and drain well. Trim off the string-like parts and blood clots, then cut the livers into about 1-inch / 2.5-cm pieces. Combine the garlic, cilantro roots, and peppercorns in the mortar and pound to a fine paste, about 1 minute. Scrape the paste into a bowl. Add the thin soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and sugar and stir well. Add the livers and toss to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours. While the livers marinate, prepare the grill to cook with medium-high heat (see page 129). Thread 5 or 6 liver pieces onto each skewer, making sure the tip of the skewer isn’t exposed (oth- erwise it will burn) and leaving a few inches of empty space at the bottom of the skewer. Grill the skewers without messing with them, until the liver releases easily from the grate, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the skewers and continue to grill, flipping them only as needed to avoid becoming very dark, until the liver is just slightly pink in the center, 2 to 3 minutes more. Cooks in Thailand would keep grilling until they are fully cooked, but I like them this way. Transfer to a plate and serve right away with the dipping sauce. PHOTOGRAPHY: Austin Bush © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.