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Huli Huli Chicken Part 1 -- a childhood memory comes alive!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Huli Huli Chicken Part 1 -- a childhood memory comes alive!

It's time for another recipe blog!

I don't remember all that much in my life before about age 4.  I don't know why, I just don't.  Just the intermittent here-and-there memory.

My family was living in Hawaii when I was 4-years-old.  My Dad, who was in the Navy, was stationed at this small base northwest of Honolulu.  My first solid memories were from Hawaii.

And here's one of them: Huli Huli chicken fundraisers.  Click here for a history of Huli Huli chicken (thanks to the obituary of the inventor from 2002).  I vaguely remember driving up to a large dirt/gravel parking lot, perhaps at a church or a high school.  And you'd see row-after-row of rotisserie-like skewers, all covered with chickens.  I also have vague memories of large metal trash cans to hold the marinade (this was in the 70s, well before plastic trash cans, apparently), and folks using cotton mops to slop on the marinade on the skewers.

My Dad mentioned to me once that the chickens would be sold whole for just a few dollars (I think he said $5, but I could be wrong), and they'd be wrapped for you in newspaper!

I found this nifty blog entry here about a modern-day operation on Oahu.

As for this blog entry, what I'm going to present you is a recipe that seems to bring back the memories I had, but I'm sure someone will tell you that it's wrong.  I've had chicken made with commercially purchased "Huli Huli Chicken Sauce" and that just seemed WRONG WRONG WRONG.  Too syrupy, from what I remember.  If you do a web search for "huli huli chicken recipe" you'll come up with a very wide variety of recipes.  I see ginger, sugar and garlic as a common thread throughout, but from there you'll see varied other ingredients: limes, chiles, honey, ketchup, white wine, etc.

Here's the recipe:

From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I

That's my sister's handwriting. She's now quite the vegetarian, but she wrote out the recipe card for me and I still have it today. I didn't photograph the back of the card, but suffice it to say that the back merely says to cook the chicken :-).

Let me go through the preparation steps I took today, so we can have huli huli chicken on Thursday night.  First, let me introduce the ingredients:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I

There's "Sugar in the Raw" in the orange sugar dish. Maybe because it's really-truly from Hawaii, I am using it instead of plain white sugar. I feel more authentic that way...

Note the whole chicken...let me warn you, I'm about to show pictures of a chicken dismemberment, so if you're adverse to such images, click away now!

Let's first disassemble the chicken.  When I'm motivated enough, I choose to break up a whole chicken rather than buy the parts separately...it's cheaper and I can take advantage of ALL of the chicken for broth, soup, etc. The first thing I did was take my kitchen shears and CUT down both sides of the spine.
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


Now I can take the spine/back part and toss it into my freezer bag that already contains two other chicken backs...I'll probably make up some broth this week for recipes later.


Moving right along...I got sick of cutting a little bit of the chicken, then washing my hands, taking a couple pictures, then going back to cutting, I decided not to photograph the rest of the disassembly.  I cut the remaining chicken into 2 breasts, 2 leg quarters and 2 wings.

Now I chop the garlic and grate the ginger.  I freeze my ginger, so grating it on the Microplane (BEST KITCHEN TOOL EVAH!!!) is easy:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


Now we start to mix everything together: this is the ginger, garlic and sugar.
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


To pour 3/4 c. of soy sauce, I have to pry off the slow-pour spout thingy on my Kikkoman:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


That's better:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


Now that we have everything -- garlic, ginger, sugar, white wine and soy sauce (I omit the MSG), it's time to stir stir stir. I try to dissolve as much of the sugar as I can.
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


Now I take a 9 x 13 baking dish and line it with a gallon-sized zip-top bag:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


Add the chicken:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


Pour in the marinade:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


And here's what you get:
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I

Since the chicken is taking up so much space in the bag, a little marinade will go a long way in the zip-top baggie. I will allow this to sit in my fridge for TWO DAYS, flipping the bag about every 12 hours.
From 2009 05 26 Huli Huli Chicken I


You'll just have to come back Thursday night for the rest of this -- I haven't decided whether we're going to grill or roast/broil this, it'll depend on the weather. As much as I love how this tastes grilled, grilling bone-in chicken breasts is tricky. Balancing cooking the chicken through with keeping the marinated exterior from burning is always a challenge in the Vollmer house!

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