Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grilled Asian Five-Spice Chicken

These Asian-inspired chicken thighs grill up wonderfully tender and flavorful, and take only minutes to prepare. Chinese five-spice powder is an aromatic blend of spices that have the five different flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. For this recipe, the five-spice, brown sugar, minced garlic and salt are turned into a rub for the chicken. After grilling, the chicken thighs are tossed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, fresh ginger and crushed red pepper, then sprinkled with freshly chopped cilantro. Full flavoured and delightfully robust, the five-spice marinade gives the chicken a real kick without being too hot. Absolutely delicious, Grilled Five-Spice Chicken presents beautifully too! To round out the meal, you could serve the grilled chicken with some steamed jasmine rice, a crunchy Asian slaw or Manita's Quinoa with citrus vinaigrette.

Grilled Five-Spice Chicken Thighs with Soy-Ginger Sauce & Cilantro
Inspired by a recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine
Serves four to six

2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Asian sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp vegetable oil; more for the grill
3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Mix the five-spice powder, 1 tbsp of the sugar, garlic and the salt in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, red pepper flakes and remaining 1 tsp sugar.

Put the chicken in a shallow pan, or a plastic baggie, drizzle with the vegetable oil, and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken; toss and rub to coat thoroughly. The chicken can be made ahead up this point and refrigerated until needed.

Once you're ready, grill the chicken on the BBQ until one side has dark grill marks, about 4-6 minutes. Turn and continue to grill until well marked on the other sides and cooked through.

Move the thighs to a serving dish. Drizzle with about half of the soy mixture, sprinkle with the cilantro, and toss to coat. Let rest 4 to 5 minutes, tossing once or twice. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with the remaining soy mixture passed at the table.