I get cravings especially when it comes to food from Hawaii — like how I drool at the thought of the huli-huli chicken from Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken on Oahu.
Huli Huli chicken is one of those staples of Hawaiian cuisine that is made every which way ’til Tuesday with everyone claiming their local recipe as tops.
At its best huli-huli has chicken dipped in a marinade then rotisseried to greatness thanks to local kiawe wood. The problem is I don’t have a backyard or a rotisserie or Hawaiian kiawe wood or an awesome Hawaiian Auntie to replicate the real deal so I hacked the recipe to come up with this version. True, this huli-huli chicken is a little more teriyaki meets Hawaii with a dash of huli-huli but it works in a pinch.
If you’ve got the chance, cook it up on a charcoal grill so you can at least get some of the awesome smoky flavors that make it so great. If not, you can, like I had to do, throw it in a grill pan and know this huli-huli chicken will more than suffice — at least until the next time you can fly west and get the real stuff.
Huli Huli Chicken Skewers Recipe
Make The Huli Huli Chicken Marinade:
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari (to make it gluten free)
- 1/3 cup 100% pure pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 8 medium garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1 (4-inch) fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
For The Skewers:
- 1 medium red onion cut into sixths, for serving (optional)
- 4 green onions (aka scallions) cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 ripe pineapple cored and cut into triangles
- fresh cilantro leaves for serving
- Make The Huli Huli Chicken Marinade: Combine everything except chicken, red onion, green onions, pineapple, and cilantro in a blender and process until evenly combined. Place chicken in a large, shallow dish and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour marinade over chicken and turn them several times until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate to marinate 1 to 24 hours.
- Cook The Huli Huli Chicken: When ready to cook, heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium (about 350°F). Remove chicken from the refrigerator, remove from marinade (reserving the marinade), let excess drip off—thread chicken on skewers with red onion wedges, scallions, and pineapple pieces (see picture).
- Rub the grill with a paper towel soaked in oil. Then, once skewers are ready, place chicken on the grill, close lid, and baste with marinade every few minutes. After 5 minutes, flip skewers and continue basting chicken every 5 minutes until temperature on the inside of the thigh registers 165°F (be sure the thermometer is not touching the bone) and, when pierced, the juices run clear, about 5 to 10 minutes more.
- Serve The Huli Huli Chicken: Let rest on a cutting board for a few minutes before serving. Meanwhile, boil leftover marinade in a small pan over high heat until reduced and thickened. Strain and serve with chicken along with cilantro, and Sriracha mayo, if using.