In 1955, Ernest Morgado, a Honolulu businessman, served a group of farmers grilled chicken that had been marinated in his mother’s teriyaki-style sauce. It was such a hit that he decided to market it with the name “huli huli.” Huli means “turn” in Hawaiian and refers to how it’s prepared: grilled between two racks and turned halfway through cooking. This simplified version calls for chicken pieces and a standard grill. The original recipe is a trade secret, but you can find many slightly different variations on the internet, typically including ginger, garlic, soy sauce, something sweet (honey, brown sugar or maple syrup) and something acidic (vinegar, white wine, lime juice or pineapple juice). This recipe is adapted from Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai‘i by Alana Kysar (Ten Speed, March 2019). It also works beautifully with boneless chicken thighs, but adjust your cooking time accordingly.
Huli Huli Chicken
Recipe from Alana Kysar
Adapted by Margaux Laskey
• 1/2 cup ketchup
• 1/2 cup soy sauce
• 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
• 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
• 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
• 3 1/2 to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
• Grapeseed or canola oil, for brushing the grill grate
In a large bowl or a gallon-size resealable plastic bag, combine the ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic, and stir or shake until combined. Reserve and refrigerate 1/2 cup of the mixture for basting the chicken later. Add the chicken to the remaining mixture, and stir or shake until evenly coated. If using a bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours, turning the chicken at least once.
When you’re ready to cook, oil your grill grates well. Heat the grill to medium (for charcoal, the grill is ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the coals for 5 to 7 seconds). Add the chicken to the grill, cover, and cook 25 to 35 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to keep the chicken from burning, and basting it with the reserved marinade after you turn it, until cooked through. (Cook times will vary depending on sizes and cuts of chicken pieces, so be sure to check for doneness: Meat should not be pink and the juices should run clear.) Serve immediately.
Total time: 45 minutes, plus 8 hours’ marinating, serves 4-6.
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