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BBQ chicken legs with smoky sambal

Serves: 6
timePrep time: 30 mins
timeTotal time:
BBQ chicken legs with smoky sambal
Recipe photograph by Stuart West

BBQ chicken legs with smoky sambal

This BBQ chicken comes from restaurant Good Birds, where the menu is based on three principles: quality rotisserie chicken, punchy sauces and mouthwatering sides

Serves: 6
timePrep time: 30 mins
timeTotal time:

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Nutritional information (per serving)


  • 6 chicken legs
  • ½ lemon, plus wedges to serve
For the smoky sambal
  • 90g red chillies
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stick, finely chopped
  • 10g peeled root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra to brush
  • ½ tsp shrimp paste or 1 anchovy fillet, chopped
  • 50ml Thai fish sauce
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 100g caster sugar
To serve
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped coriander

Step by step

Get ahead
You can make the sauce and poach the chicken a day ahead then cover and chill. Remove the chicken from the fridge 1 hour before grilling. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  1. Remove the stalk ends from the chillies (and the seeds if you don’t want too much chilli heat). Barbecue on a medium heat (or grill under a high heat) for 10-15 minutes, turning regularly, until starting to blacken and blister. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place the chopped garlic, lemongrass, and ginger in a pan with the oil and cook gently, without colouring, until aromatic. Add the shrimp paste or anchovy and cook for a few minutes longer, stirring.
  3. Add the fish sauce, vinegar and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce by half on a medium heat; the flavour will be super-intense.
  4. Add the chargrilled chillies and leave to soak for a few hours off the heat. Blend to a fairly smooth sauce.
  5. Put the chicken legs in a large pot with some salt, pepper and the juice of 1⁄2 lemon. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the water and leave to cool.
  6. When ready to cook, brush the chicken legs with a little oil and barbecue or grill on a medium heat, turning, until the skin starts to crisp. Brush on some of the sambal and cook, turning and brushing with more sauce until sticky and caramelised, without allowing the sauce to catch and burn. This will take 20-25 minutes in all. Transfer to a platter and scatter with sesame seeds and the coriander. Serve with lemon wedges, and extra sauce alongside.

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