Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant that serves something called chicken sticks? They're boneless, skinless chicken thighs, marinated and skewered, and then grilled to caramelized perfection. I love those things. In fact, sometimes I used to order just plain fried rice and an order of chicken sticks from China Garden down the street from my office. It was enough for two meals for me.
Apparently I have, once again, stumbled upon a recipe for one of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes. This huli huli chicken is almost identical to China Garden's chicken sticks and was almost as easy to make as calling in for takeout.
According to Mercedes at The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife, "huli" means "turn" in Hawaiian. I'm assuming that refers to turning on the grill. Unfortunately I don't have a real grill, only a little single person George Foreman grill. While I love it and it works perfectly for my normal needs, it's not great for grilling anything marinated in high sugar marinades. The temperature runs a bit high and sugar tends to burn instead of caramelizing.
I debated cooking these in the oven under the broiler. I thought maybe if I layered a cooling rack inside a baking sheet it would turn out similar to grilled. I scrapped that idea when I remembered I donated my cooling rack to a friend and haven't replaced it yet.
I ultimately decided to cook them on the stove in a skillet on very low heat. Grilled would be great, but in a pinch this worked just fine. Just remember if you do them in the skillet to keep the heat very low to keep the sugar in the marinade from burning.
I know some of you don't care for chicken thighs. Perhaps you simply prefer white meat and that's fine. I can totally understand. Dark meat can be greasy and stringy sometimes. If you really wanted to you could swap out some chicken tenderloins or chicken breast cutlets for the thighs. I just want to warn you that you'll be sacrificing some flavor if you do this. The recipe says to marinate the chicken 8 hours-overnight. I would recommend overnight if you are using white meat.
Huli Huli Chicken
Source: The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife via A Foodie in Utah
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
In a two cup liquid measuring cup combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, chicken broth, ginger, and garlic. Mix with a fork until well combined.
Place the chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag. Place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
If you prefer to grill them, go for it! You can click the link above for grilling instructions. If grilling isn't an option you can follow my instructions.
Spray a large skillet with vegetable oil spray and heat over medium heat.
Once the pan is hot use tongs to transfer the chicken thighs to the pan. I had to cook them in two batches because my largest skillet still isn't large enough.
Reduce the heat to medium-low (2-3 on my stove) and cook about 6-8 minutes on each side. If the marinade looks like it's starting to burn in the pan turn the heat down even further.
These were fantastic with baked beans and sweet potato fries, but I would love to eat them with some leftover fried rice.