The news is filled with horrible, scary information causing anxiety and fear. Meanwhile we are stuck inside as spring is finally coming to life outside the windows. As we live through this very weird time, it can be tough to get clarity and comfort.
When it all gets too much, I tap into memories of one of my favorite places – Hawaii. There the air is perfumed by plumeria, papaya trees grow wild along the road, amazing sunsets give way to starry skies every evening and the great Pacific is all around. Hawaiian music, language, hula dancing and food bring these memories to life for me through the internet and my kitchen.
One of my strongest island food memories is the scent of huli huli chicken wafting through the air at a farmers market. Huli huli means “turn turn” in Hawaiian, which is what needs to be done with chicken marinated in this intoxicating teriyaki-style mixture – a specialty of the state. Fundraisers held in church parking lots, school grounds and community halls around Hawaii use massive grills to get just the right kiss of flame and bronzed skin.
It’s easy to put together authentic huli huli at home, no matter where you are in the world. A simple bath of tamari, fresh ginger, pineapple juice and some pantry staples will turn ordinary chicken (or pork, shrimp or beef for that matter) into an exotic bird. Throw it on your backyard barbecue and let the smoky whiffs transport you from viral madness to paradise.
Huli Huli Marinade
3/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 lbs. chicken pieces with skin and bones
Whisk together all ingredients except chicken in a medium bowl. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat, making sure they are covered in the mixture. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Cook over medium low heat on the barbecue, watching carefully to prevent flare ups and turning frequently until chicken is no longer pink, juices run clear and skin is crispy and golden.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Hawaiian Pineapple Rice
Serve your huli huli alongside a bowl of pineapple rice to give your taste buds a vacation.
2 tablespoons chopped bacon or pancetta
1/4 cup each minced onion and carrot
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup coarsely chopped broccoli
1 packed cup bok choy or tatsoi, cut crosswise in bite sized pieces
1-250 gram pack steamed basmati rice
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup diced fresh or canned pineapple
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
3 chopped scallions
1 tablespoon teriyaki or tamari sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
1/2 cup whole roasted and salted cashews
Saute the bacon in a medium wok over medium high heat until it’s released some fat and is golden brown. Add the onion and carrot and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, then add broccoli and bok choy and stir fry until bright green and crisp tender. Add the ginger and the rice packet, stirring to coat each grain and distribute all ingredients evenly. Stir in the peas, pineapple, coriander, scallions, teriyaki and sesame oil and toss everything together until all ingredients are hot. Divide into two bowls and top with cashews. Serve alongside huli huli chicken.
Yield: 2 servings