We all love BBQ Chicken. We all love pork Char Siu. So I ask you. Why not combine them and make char siu grilled chicken?
I was scrolling through old posts the other day, looking for grilling recipes to make this weekend, when I rediscovered my dad’s recipe for Char Siu on the grill. Now, that recipe WAS pretty brilliant. If you’re not familiar, Char Siu is a savory, slightly sweet barbecued pork popular in Cantonese cuisine. If you’ve ever walked past a Cantonese restaurant in whatever Chinatown happens to be nearest you, you’ve probably seen it––in metal pans underneath fluorescent lights and the roast ducks hanging in the window.
Char siu happens to be one of my favorite things in the world––I was raised on the stuff. I remember taking it to preschool for lunch––in a little tupperware nestled in my purple Pocahontas lunchbox, with some rice and stir-fried vegetables…the four-year-olds next to me side-eying it whilst holding their PB&Js. (Not sure if they were jealous or just confused.)
But though grilled Char Siu pork sounded like a great idea for Memorial Day festivities, pork isn’t what I had in the freezer. I had chicken. Lots of it––thighs and drumsticks, to be exact. Family packs. (Read: …way too much chicken.)
Unwilling to schlep out to the grocery store (pretty sure I was in sweatpants and hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet when all this was going down), and looking for a way to use up said family packs, I went downstairs to my parents’ overflow freezer in the garage––where the spoils of Costco mega trips and dumpling-making marathons go. I grabbed a couple packs of chicken thighs and drums, and decided to defrost them for a little experiment.
A few hours later, I was tweaking my dad’s char siu sauce recipe and using it to baste the chicken on the grill, and voila! Char Siu Grilled Chicken entered the world. It’s juicy, delicious, and actually very easy to make. The sauce doesn’t need to be cooked or anything beforehand. You just mix up a bunch of ingredients, and drop your chicken onto the grill.
One important thing to note here, is that because there is a good amount of sugar in the BBQ sauce from the brown sugar and the hoisin sauce, you’ll need to grill the chicken for a good amount of time before you begin basting it with the sauce, or the sauce will burn (a little char is good, but you don’t want the chicken to get TOO dark).
It’s all in the instructions. Let’s start!
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, rice wine, or beer
½ teaspoon five spice powder
¼ teaspoon white or black pepper
½ teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves minced garlic
5 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
Prepare a medium-hot BBQ grill or preheat the broiler. If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Season the chicken with salt to taste, and put the chicken on the BBQ grill or, if broiling, put it on the prepared baking sheet. Grill or broil, turning once, for 10 minutes per side––making sure to keep an eye on the chicken to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Put 1/2 of the BBQ sauce in a small bowl for serving, and set aside.
Baste the chicken with the remaining sauce…
And continue to grill or broil until the chicken is cooked through (time will vary depending on the size of your chicken thighs and drumsticks).
Transfer your char siu grilled chicken to a serving platter, brush with the reserved sauce, and serve.
Summer is upon us so enjoy this Chinese char siu grilled chicken today!
Chinese Char Siu Grilled Chicken
- Mix together the BBQ sauce by combining the brown sugar, hoisin sauce, Shaoxing wine, five spice powder, pepper, sesame oil, garlic, and red food coloring (if using).
- Prepare a medium-hot grill or preheat the broiler. If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Season the chicken with salt to taste, and put the chicken on the grill or, if broiling, put it on the prepared baking sheet. Grill or broil, turning once, for 10 minutes per side––making sure to keep an eye on the chicken to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- Put 1/2 of the BBQ sauce in a small bowl for serving, and set aside.
- Baste the chicken with the remaining sauce and continue to grill or broil until the chicken is cooked through (time will vary depending on the size of your chicken thighs and drumsticks). Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, brush with the reserved sauce, and serve.