Is it spring yet where you are? It’s summer where I am. Well, maybe “summer” is a misnomer since there are only two seasons—wet and dry—in my part of the world. But we were a Spanish and American colony at different periods of our history, and we somehow developed the habit of referring to the dry season as “summer”. Misnomer or not, it’s grilling season. And our latest grilling project is a Hawaiian dish said to be a cook’s take on the Japanese teriyaki. Huli huli chicken is marinated then brushed with a sweet sauce during grilling.
Why is it called huli huli chicken? Because the chicken has to be turned during grilling. Huli in Hawaiian means “to turn.”
Who invented the dish? One Ernest Morgado back in 1955 who never revealed his recipe. So, all recipes that have been published, on print or online, and including this one, are attempts to replicate the original.
Huli Huli Chicken
- 10 to 12 chicken thighs or legs or a combination of thighs and legs
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons fresh pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped chilies
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup tomato ketchup
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (see guide)
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame seed oil
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Score both sides of each piece (about 1/4 inch deep is ideal). Place in a wide shallow bowl.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the soy sauce, salt, lemon juice, pineapple juice, ginger, garlic, chilies and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken. Mix well. Cover the bowl and marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least six hours (overnight is better).
Heat the grill. Position the rack at least six inches from the heat (if the rack is too near the heat, the chicken will scorch before the inside is thoroughly cooked).
Drain the chicken.
Make the basting sauce. Pour the leftover marinade in a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar and ketchup. Make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved.
Grill the chicken, about five minutes per side. Brush with the basting sauce several times during grilling.
Take the cooked huli huli chicken off the grill. Brush each piece lightly with sesame seed oil. Serve at once.