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Making Mike’s Huli chicken from the O’ahu North Shore
One of the best things to do on O’ahu is to visit the east coast. We hired a car and drove from Honolulu right up to Turtle Bay and down through the Pali Lookout. There are so many different food trucks along the main highway here but we had our focus on one in particular. Mike’s Truck, the bright yellow truck is well known in these parts for his chicken, cooked over the coals. When we arrived, there were trailers out the back, all loaded up with charcoal, slowly roasting the chickens over the top.
There is a general eating area here, with chickens regularly running around under your feet. Not the safest place for a chicken I would imagine! It’s all very low key and casual here. If you’re lucky, you’ll see Mike in his truck serving customers just like us. If you do, ask him for his photo. He’ll gladly oblige.
Having enjoyed such a wonderful lunch at Mike’s truck on the Kamehameha Highway, I took inspiration from Mike’s Huli Chicken and gave it a try myself.
It is a very easy recipe to make and is absolutely delicious, with moist chicken on the inside and a glazed, crispy outside. You could serve this with vegetables or salad, and it’s great for leftovers the next day.
The secret to this recipe is in the brining as this keeps the chicken super moist.
The rub and the sauce can be made a day ahead and any leftover sauce can also be frozen. I tend to be heavy handed with the sauce when serving as the chicken really soaks it up.
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- Whole chicken - around 2 kg
Huli Huli Sauce
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sherry or malt vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground ginger
Huli Huli chicken dry rub
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp salt (or less if preferred)
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp onion powder or onion flakes
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
Cut the chicken
Butterfly the chicken by opening up the breast bone and flattening it out.
Brine the chicken
If possible do this at least a few hours before. Cook the brine ingredients until the sugar is dissolved and leave to cool down.
When it is cool, place the chicken in a bowl, with the brine and allow to sit until read to be marinated. The longer the brining, the more moist the chicken will be.
Make the sauce
Combine the pineapple juice, tomato sauce, soy sauce and vinegar in a pot and put on the stove over low heat.
Once simmering, add the sugar and ginger. Allow the sauce to thicken, ensuring it does not boil. Remove it from the heat and leave to cool.
Rub the chicken
Mix all of the dry ingredients for the rub together in a bowl.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat with paper towel until it is completely dry.
Cover the chicken with the rub mix, getting it covered inside and into the cavity.
Cook the chicken
Cook over a hot BBQ. Cook on one side for around 10 minutes and then on the other for a similar time.
Squeeze some lemon juice over the chicken as you are cooking it.
Glaze the chicken just before you are ready to take it off the heat. **Keep some of the sauce to serve with.
The chicken is cooked with an internal temperature of around 74 Celsius/165 F.
Remove and allow it to rest.
Serve with some of the remaining marinade.
The Huli Huli sauce may be made a day ahead.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 200g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 584 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 176mg Sodium: 7304mg Carbohydrates: 25g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 19g Protein: 57g
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Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.