We ♥ grilling, and are fortunate to be able to do it year-round here in Hawaii. We used to be exclusively charcoal grillers, and made up for all the lost grilling time during the Portland winters by dragging out our old Weber kettle as much as possible once the weather turned warm. We have a Weber again here, but this time it’s powered with gas. While I miss the flavor we got from charcoal grilling, the convenience of the gas grill wins out these days.
Any one of the three chicken marinades below works for any part of the chicken. Our family likes thighs because they’re tasty and inexpensive – I usually buy boneless, skinless thigh filets. My only issue with them is they can be quite fatty, and it can be a somewhat messy operation to trim off that fat before marinating them.
We love the taste of anything made with ginger and garlic, which are included in each of these marinades. Fresh ginger is especially easy to find at the farmers’ market and is inexpensive. Both garlic and ginger have many health benefits, although there probably isn’t enough of either in these recipe to make a difference. Un-peeled ginger can be stored in the vegetable crisper of the fridge in either a small plastic bag or container; peeled ginger keeps well in a sealed jar covered in vodka!
All three of these marinades help make chicken even more tender. Our son used to call the ginger-peanut chicken “velvet chicken” because it was so melt-in-your-mouth tender. The Japanese-style marinade and ginger-peanut marinated chicken lend themselves to Asian-style menus, and the ginger-yogurt chicken is a mock tandoori style, and goes well with Indian dishes. The Japanese-style marinade recipe comes from the New York Times. It’s a nice and easy change from teriyaki (which we also love) and has less salt. The peanut-ginger marinade comes from allrecipes, and the ginger-yogurt marinade is on an old newspaper clipping from who knows where or when.
The marinades also work well with pork, and each of these marinades would work for tofu as well if you don’t eat meat. The Japanese-style and peanut-ginger marinades are both vegan.
GRILLED CHICKEN, JAPANESE STYLE
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 TBSP sake or white wine
2 TBSP mirin (or 1 TBSP honey mixed with 1 TBSP water)
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 TBSP finely minced ginger
3 pounds chicken pieces (skin removed if preferred)
Mix together the soy sauce, sake or wine, mirin, chopped onions, garlic and ginger in large, covered container or large zip-top bag. Add the chicken and toss to coat completely. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight. Grill over medium hot heat for around 20 minutes or until fully cooked, turning frequently so the chicken does not burn.
CHICKEN IN GINGER-YOGURT MARINADE
3 pounds of cut up chicken (skin removed if preferred)
1 cup plain yogurt
3 large cloves of finely minced garlic
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and chili powder
Wipe chicken parts with a damp cloth and place in a large covered dish or zip-top bag. Lightly salt. Mix together yogurt, garlic, ginger and spices. Spoon over chicken pieces and turn to coat well. Marinate for at least 8 hours. Oil grill well; grill over medium-hot heat, turning frequently until fully cooked. Chicken can also be baked in 350 degree oven for around one hour or until done.
PEANUT-GINGER MARINADE FOR CHICKEN
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
chili-garlic sauce to taste (start with 1 tsp and add to desired spiciness)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP rice vinegar
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
3 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
In a large bowl, gradually stir the hot water into the peanut butter. Stir in garlic-chili sauce, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Place chicken pieces in a large covered container or zip-top bag, cover with marinade and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.
Thread chicken pieces onto skewers (discard marinade) and grill for 8-10 minutes per side over medium heat.