Braised Chicken in Spices (Gai Tung)

De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.

Suggested Use:
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.

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5 medium dried de arbol chiles, crushed
5 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp. shrimp paste
1 tsp. lemon grass — finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. galangal powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 Tbsp. olive oil
3 pounds chicken in 6 pieces
1 cup water
1 tsp. tamarind paste, dissolved in 2 Tbsp. hot water
2 Tbsp. fish sauce


Grind the chiles, shallots, shrimp paste, lemon grass, garlic, cilantro, salt, galangal powder, and cinnamon to a paste in a food processor.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the paste until it turns light brown. Add the chicken and stir until well coated in the paste. Add some water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the chicken is done, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to low and add the tamarind liquid and fish sauce. Leave on low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve the braised chicken over hot jasmine or basmati rice.

Yields 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from “The Original Thai Cookbook,” by Jennifer Brennan.