The Japanese method of dressing meat and fish with a rice wine-dark soy-ginger-sugar sauce has penetrated the food culture of Aoteroa, Fiji, Hawai’i, Rapa Nui, Samoa, Tahiti, Tongo and other Polynesian islands so comprehensively it is almost thought of as a different proccess. The common ingredient throughout the islands is pineapple, in Japan it is the rice wine called Aji Mirin. This is where the two cultures separate, in more ways than one, and come back together again.
In Hawai’i chicken is marinaded in the sauce, grilled and then served coated with the sauce. Some Hawai’ians insist that authentic teri chicken can only be made with thigh meat.
Other Polynesians are happy to use any part of the chicken, cut into slices and baked in the oven.
Then there is huli huli, a sauce based on teriyaki now synoynmous with the barbeque culture of Hawai’i. Used as a basting sauce and as a marinade for beef, chicken and pork, the original recipe remains protected.
Entrepreneur Ernest Morgado devised the sauce, based on his mother’s teriyaki recipe, in 1955 to marinade chickens for a farmer’s barbeque. It was so popular Morgado decided to market it, deciding on huli huli as the brand name, because this was the shout at barbeques everytime the chicken had to be turned. Huli is Polynesian for “turn”.
Huli huli is a sour-sweet version of teriyaki, with combinations from brown sugar, chicken broth, chilli sauce, garlic, ginger, honey, lemon juice, pineapple juice, rice or sherry wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, tomato sauce or ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
- 1 kg chicken thigh meat, cut into thick slices
- 300 ml soy sauce
- 300 ml pineapple juice / pulp
- 200 g brown sugar / palm sugar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cm ginger, crushed
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 15 g cilantro leaves / coriander leaves
Combine pineapple juice / pulp, soy sauce and sugar in a large bowl, whisk until the sugar has dissolved, add garlic and ginger. Marinade chicken in this mixture overnight. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Remove chicken from marinade, transfer chicken to a baking tray and the marinade to a pot. Gradually bring up the heat of the marinade in the pot and after 20 minutes in the oven baste the chicken with a few spoonfuls of the marinade. After 50 minutes pour remaining marinade in the pot over the chicken in the oven. Heat for a further ten minutes. Serve with a garnish of spring onions and cilantrao or coriander leaves.
Alternatively place the chicken pieces on a rack and grill, basting constantly with hot marinade until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with garnish.