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We have adopted cooking techniques and ingredients from the Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Koreans and Portuguese
immigrants who moved to Hawaii to work the plantation fields, and infused those ingredients with the indigenous Polynesian cooking style, to create a local cuisine that is colloquially referred to as "local kine grinds!" This is the original Pacific-Asian fusion, homegrown and organic.
Since home-cooked local kine grinds is truly the food of my heart, I've decided to share with you some recipes from the kitchens of Hawaii.
To start things off, here is a simple and easy classic called "Shoyu Chicken." I've taken the basic recipe and given you my spin on it.
JR's Easy Kine Shoyu Chicken
5-6 Chicken legs or thighs
1/2 Cup & 2 Tsp Aloha Shoyu*
1/2 Cup & 2 Tsp Brown sugar
1 Cup & 2 Tsp Water
3 stalks of Green Onion
3 cloves Garlic
2 Ginger slices
1/4 Cup & 2 Tsp Beer or white wine
- Combine 2 teaspoons Aloha shoyu, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons beer or white wine and 2 teaspoons water in a bowl and whisk quickly. Marinate your chicken thighs, skin on, in liquid mixture for at least 1 hour.
- While the chicken is marinating, chop your green onion stalks into pieces, about 1/2 inch thick. Peel the garlic cloves and chop or crush them. Slice 2 pieces of ginger and chop or crush them.
- Combine the chopped garlic, chopped ginger and half of the chopped green onions into a pot with 1/2 cup Aloha shoyu, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup water and 1/4 cup alcohol, (beer, whisky or white wine works best.)
- Let this mixture simmer on VERY low heat.
- Add your marinated chicken to the pot of combined ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Note: While it is cooking, foam will collect at the surface. Be sure to skim this foam and discard it. Also, if the liquid evaporates too quickly, add more water! At this point the sauce should still be soupy in texture, not too thick or viscous.
- Check the chicken periodically for doneness. It will be cooked when there is no more blood.
- When the chicken has been fully cooked through, cover the pot and bring the heat down to low.
- Simmer for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the sauce thickens and the chicken starts to be glazed brown from the shoyu. You should be tasting your sauce a lot at this point, making sure it isn't too salty or too sweet.
- Serve two pieces of shoyu chicken over two scoops of steamed sticky white rice. Ladle sauce over the chicken and rice. Garnish with the rest of the green onions. Enjoy!
The Story Behind Shoyu Chicken
Every kitchen has it's own recipe with differing ingredients, but the one key ingredient that stays the same is shoyu. Shoyu is the Pidgin word for soy sauce and, like the dish, we got this word from the Japanese immigrants. You will never hear a local say 'soy sauce', in Hawaii it is always shoyu.
There are many different types of shoyu, one of which is Kikkoman. I prefer a shoyu created by and made for locals in Hawaii called Aloha Shoyu. That really is the name for it. It has a slight sweetness to it that counters the typical saltiness of shoyu.
Everyone has their own combination of shoyu, liquid and sweetener. Some people use sugar, honey or guava juice for sweetener. I prefer brown cane sugar. Others will add rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, sake, cilantro, Chinese Five Spice, star anise, etc, it's always up to the chef.
The important thing to remember with this dish is that there is no one way to do it, it's simply done to taste. So try cooking the recipe above and play with it! Taste it while it's simmering and from time to time, add more water to cut the salt, more brown sugar to up the sweet, or more alcohol to give it a kick.
Main ting, no foget da shoyu yah!
Check out these books for more Hawaii recipe ideas:
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And now we ask you - Have you tried this dish? What are some ways that you've tweaked it?