Piri piri chicken was on my bucket list for a long time, and I’ve been experimenting for a while now.
After couple of trial sessions I finally landed on a winning combination of ingredients for this authentic dish. Piri piri simply means bird’s eye chilli pepper. It is used in the cooking of Portugal, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa. The sauce, however, is Portuguese.
So how do we make piri piri sauce at home with the ingredients available in Vietnam? Where do we find African bird’s eye chilli? I found the solution — ot sung do, or the long red chillis you find in Vietnam. It works.
The beauty of this hearty meal is it is flavoursome, spicy, easy and economical. That’s why I recommend making the sauce yourself, at home. You can also make it as spicy or as mild as you wish — something you can’t do if you buy piri piri sauce out of a jar.
To get that crisp and tender combination of sauce and meat, I cook the chicken on the stove and finish it off in the oven grill.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
— 4 chicken thighs or drumsticks with skin on
— Fresh long red chillis (ot sung do).
4 to 5 depending on how spicy you can take it
— 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
— 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
— 25ml of red wine vinegar
— Juice of 1 lime
— Juice of 1 lemon
— 1 tablespoon paprika
— 1 tablespoon oregano
Making the Sauce
1) Place the red chillies in the oven to dry roast for 10 minutes.
2) Mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, crushed garlic, lemon and lime juice, oregano and paprika, and whisk gently. Place on the stove on a low flame for 2 minutes.
3) Once the chillis are roasted, remove the green stems and add them to the oil mixture. Heat and then simmer for 2 minutes.
4) Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend into a fine paste.
1) Dry the drumsticks, slit them in the centre and marinade with 3 to 4 tablespoons of sauce on each piece.
2) Massage well and keep in the refrigerator for a minimum of 45 minutes.
Cooking the Chicken
1) Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.
2) Place the marinated chicken on a grilling pan and cook in the oven until they are cooked 50 percent. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sauce.
3) Take an oven tray and transfer the chicken into it with all the juices and leftover sauce.
4) Grill for 20 minutes until the chicken is well cooked.
Piri piri chicken is best served with corn on the cob, salad, French fries or even sticky rice.
Riccha Arora runs the Facebook page Sassy Kitchen —facebook.com/arorassassykitchen