Crispy crunchy bits, tender, spicy-sweet bites, all riddled with gutsy amounts of garlic, lazing in a sweet shoyu sauce. Island style take-out, at home.
Baby, it's cold outside!! Brrrrr! Ol' Man Winter has a wickedly cold (-20C) sense of humour this year. This year being one of the only in recent memory that we are not whiling away glorious tropical days and nights on the beguiling Big Island of Hawaii. Which, I'm pretty damn sure makes it feel colder than it even is.
I miss Kona and Hawaiian-ness so very much. Needless to say, everyday, at least one sigh of yearning to be wayyyy out there on that far-away idyllic paradise of an island, slips out of me.
You can take the girl out of the Islands, but you can't take the Islands out of the girl. Nosirreebob! So I threw on some happy Hawaiian tunes, starting with my fave, John Cruz belting out Island Style, like only he can.
Now we're cookin'! Or just about.
There's this great little homey, definitively Hawaiian nook of an eatery in Kona, called Broke Da Mouth Grindz. It's a funky, offbeat, neighbourhood joint that does up local style so deliciously. Thus, Broke Da Mouth, which in pidgin means 'this food is so delicious'.
They serve up rather famous Garlic Furikake Chicken, as do a few other memorable eateries in and around Kona. I'm not crazy for furikake, but I sure do like all the variations of Crispy Garlic Chicken that I've come across in the Islands. So what's a girl to do?
Time to warm up my Okanagan kitchen with tasty Aloha. That's what!
So, I took mouthwatering inspiration from Broke Da Mouth Grindz, other special tucked-away Kona eateries, one of my fave food blogs, Dinner Then Dessert and I was off and running, or should I say, off and cutting, slicing, marinating, dredging, frying and simmering.
And yippee, ended up with what is now our family favourite version of Crispy Hawaiian Garlic Chicken. I daresay tossing and splashing these hot-from-the-wok, crispy tender chicken thigh morsels with the sweet, soy-drenched, minced garlic sauce makes the flavours and textures dance do the Hula, in your mouth. Aloha!
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CRISPY HAWAIIAN GARLIC CHICKEN ~ 4-6 Servings
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 medium sized thighs)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
10 nice plump garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sambal oelek, or other chile paste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola or corn oil, for frying
Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces. In small mixing bowl combine chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons soy sauce and granulated garlic. Mix well to evenly coat chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate 1-6 hours. Happy chicken = Tender, tasty chicken.
Soy glaze can be made ahead and quickly reheated when chicken is fried. In a small pot combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, brown sugar, water, minced garlic, sambal and rice vinegar. Whisk well to combine and bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
In a bowl combine flour, cornstarch salt and pepper and whisk, whisk. Transfer mixture to smallish paper or plastic bag. All the better to shake, shake, the chicken pieces to evenly coat.
Heat oven to 250F to keep fried chicken pieces nice and hot, while frying the rest of the chicken.
Now let's do it. In a wok or fryer, heat oil, over high heat to 350F. Coat chicken pieces with flour mixture. Cook 1/4 to 1/3 of the chicken at a time, frying in batches, about 3-4 minutes per batch. Remove and quickly drain on paper towel, then put into oven on cookie sheet with rack. Continuing frying the remaining chicken pieces.
Quickly heat soy glaze. Toss, toss, toss fried chicken pieces in the sauce, sauce, sauce. Serve up Island style with sticky rice and macaroni salad. That's Aloha!