Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with two salads

Charcoal grilling is probably one of the oldest and most favored cooking techniques in the world. In my view, no one does it better than the traditional Japanese robata grill master. This is an ancient technique, from the seaport of Hokkaido, developed by the fishermen to grill fish. What makes this technique so unique is the specific type of coal that they use, called binchon. This white coal is specifically made from oak trees using slow almost oxygen-free temperatures and then finished with a quick burst of high temperature. The coal is very carbon rich and almost smoke free and burns super hot, this allows the meat to cook quickly and cleanly. There were a number of excellent binchon restaurants in the Bay Area, that I loved, maybe it is time to start the trend in India. More on this technique here.

One of the spice blends that hide in my cabinet is Shichimi togarashi, a seven-spice spicy blend from Japan. It uses a specific Japanese pepper that has a pop of flavor and is surrounded by an "umami" of spices that include seaweed. It is available in India on Amazon or in most Japanese or Asian stores internationally.

This recipe is quite simple in reality and stays true to the core of Japanese grilling, but can also be done in the oven under the broiler. The chicken is super soft and the marination allows the flavors to penetrate the meat. The salt from the soy is perfectly balanced by the sweet and the spice from the togarashi chili powder. The ginger and garlic complete the complex and addictive blend of flavors. I served this with a fresh and light Japanese smashed cucumber salad, and a wonderful green Japanese edamame and snow pea salad. They balanced each other perfectly, it was a very healthy and delicious meal.

Like every recipe I have cooked from Diana Henry, this recipe is absolutely delicious. Subtle flavors dominate this meal, but the spices are balanced. This was my first Diana Henry cookbook, and after making a couple of recipes from it, I was addicted to her cooking. There are flavors and cuisines from a round the world and her writing style is fun and easy. Like this recipe, the dishes step away from the ordinary and are just amazing.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.



Ingredients:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons sake or sherry

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon miso, brown miso preferred

2 tablespoons ginger paste

4 garlic cloves, minced and pasted

1 teaspoon togaragshi chili powder or chili flakes

8 bone-in chicken thighs


Mix the soy sauce, sake, sugar, miso, ginger and garlic to form a paste. You can add a touch of water if the paste is too thick to make the marinade.


Poke the chicken thighs with a fork to puncture the meat. Pour the marinade over the meat and massage the marinate into the flesh. Cover and marinate the chicken in the fridge for 1 hour.


Grill the meat on a BBQ, preferably a charcoal grill till cooked through. Glaze with the remaining sauce every 5 minutes till finished.


To cook in the oven, heat the oven to 375 F.


Layer the chicken snugly in an oven-proof dish and pour half the marinade over the chicken. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes till the chicken is completely cooked. After the first 10 minutes, brush half the remaining marinade over the chicken and repeat after 10 minutes again finishing the marinade. Check that the chicken is cooked by piercing the meat with a knife, the juices should run clear, not be milky or red.


Serve hot with either or both the Japanese smashed cucumber salad, and the wonderful Japanese edamame and snow pea salad.

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