Tonya and I decided to forego our wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii this year and instead spent the weekend working the concession stand at our daughter Emma’s school, taxiing eight high-schoolers from a dance to late night bowling and watching a middle school performance of The Wizard of Oz. Hawaii could come to our kitchen, by golly!
One of the highlights of the weekend was doing what we like to do the most, spending Saturday night together working on a recipe. Inspired by an recent episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, we channeled our inner “Polynesian”, threw on our hula skirt and coconut shell bras and put our spin on a batch of Huli huli marinade for some chicken wings!
Huli huli chicken is a common and favorite Hawaiian dish that is generally found at roadside stands or food trucks along highways on the islands. Huli huli chicken was originally created and trademarked by Ernest Morgado in 1955 as he developed his version of teriyaki chicken. Huli means “turn” in Hawaiian. Ernest created a “rotisserie” using two mesh grates to turn large amounts of chicken at one time while liberally basting the chicken with the marinade. His original recipe remains a secret but many variations are used today.
While the recipes differ on some levels the primary ingredients include ginger root, pineapple juice, ketchup, sherry or chicken broth, soy sauce and brown sugar. As long as these staples are included the Huli huli marinade remains intact. The key is that this is a marinade so the measurements or amounts don’t have to be exact and can include garlic, Sriracha, rice vinegar, dry mustard or lemon juice.
Huli huli chicken is frequently skin-on chicken pieces grilled and served with sticky white rice. We decided we didn’t enjoy enough wings last weekend at the big football game party so used the Huli huli marinade on chicken wings and substituted the sticky white rice with brown rice topped with sauteed zucchini and onions. Huli huli would be fantastic on chicken thighs, too!
Huli huli chicken wings
20-25 assorted chicken drumettes and wings or 4-5 chicken pieces
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup sherry or chicken broth
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsps Sriracha
1 piece ginger root, grated and crushed
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Mix all ingredients in bowl, stirring until brown sugar, honey and dry mustard are dissolved. Set aside about 1 cup of marinade and pour the remaining over the chicken in a large plastic bag, seal bag tight and refrigerate at least 4-8 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, brush your grill grates with cooking oil, and once the grill is pre-heated, cook the chicken until the juices are clear, turning and basting frequently with the marinade you set aside.
Speaking of beer, you would think I would suggest something like Kona Longboard or a Coconut Stout to go with the Huli huli wings. Actually, a great pairing was the Sunseeker Pils, a light bodied pilsner brewed by Green Man Brewery, located in one of the coolest towns east of the Mississippi, Asheville NC. Sunseeker was the perfect beer to evoke thoughts of sunshine along with the island fare!