This is a perfect summer marinade for pumping up a bland skinless chicken breasts with a pop of juicy flavour, or saturating chicken wings with a citrus and spicy kick, before you toss them on the grill. But this simple Thai marinade will work equally well with any other cut of white meat, especially pork chops and chicken wings, and can even be used to infuse flavour into a neutral white fish from the freezer aisle of your grocery, like tilapia or basa.
The recipe takes no time, and is infinitely variable so long as you have the two basic components, dairy and hot sauce. The acidic component of the buttermilk works slowly over time to break down and tenderize the meat, while the sour element of the citrus combines with the umami of the fish sauce and heat of the chili to make the meat pop once it hits the char of a hot grill.
Almost all of the ingredients in this marinade can be substituted making it easy to put together some variation from any stocked pantry. The buttermilk can be substituted for half yogurt/half water, or milk with a splash of apple cider vinegar, the sriracha can be subbed out for any combination of hot sauce and garlic; it tastes delicious with a few tablespoons of my sichuan chili oil. Thai basil can easily be swapped out for mint, adding extra summer freshness, as Christina Tossi does in her yogurt sriracha marinade. And the limes can be replaced with any citrus fruit. You could even replace the fish sauce with anchovies or shrimp paste, if you were in a pinch, to replace the funky aspect.
Buttermilk Sriracha Marinade (for grilling)
2C/500 ml buttermilk
2 tblsp/30 ml sriracha sauce
2 tblsp/30 ml lime juice
1 tblsp/15 ml fish sauce
1C/250 ml of shredded Thai basil leaves
Zest of 2 whole limes
Add all the wet ingredients to a mixing bowl or large freezer bag and stir. Zest the limes into the mixture. Then add your meat and marinade for a minimum of one hour, or up to 48 hours before you grill.
Grill meat or veggies based on cut and size. You can refer to this amazingly Handy Printable Meat & Veggie Cooking-Grilling Chart if you don’t know your temps and times. I love to serve this grilled meat with a fresh summer slaw of carrots, apples and beets with a bit of cilantro, but any salad with a sweet or creamy element would pair really well.