Battle of the Asian Chickens, or, Asian-Chicken Two Ways

Today I present to you two different recipes for Asian-inspired, bone-in chicken… one delicious, and one so caustically salty that you probably should stay away from it unless you are either a goat or just want to know what it feels like to live inside a salt lick.

First of all, let’s discuss the medium: this is really embarrassing, but when I was a broke single girl, my favourite payday treat was buying a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, and then eating it for three meals a day for three days straight to try to get through it all… but, because I only had ever bought these from the store and don’t (obviously) have a rotisserie in my kitchen, I just always figured I would never be able to make roast chickens as good as the ones from Kroger. (I told you it was embarrassing). Oh well, we all start somewhere.

Consequently, I’m always still amazed when I make a chicken dish that is delicious—but the truth is, it’s hard NOT to make delicious chicken when you’re working with a whole chicken instead of dried-up, flavourless, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I remain, however, confused as to why every chicken recipe in the box seems to require ‘a whole chicken, cut-up.’ Using our knives, which are fairly decent, sharp, and new, I can’t cut up a chicken and even Judson is always kind of at a loss when it comes to hacking through the breastbone. Are chickens today eating more calcium and thus growing up with stronger bones? Did everyone in the 1950s own a cleaver and butcher block? Did whole chickens used to be sold cut up into their component pieces? Did housewives walk around with biceps like bodybuilders from cleaving chickens every day? These are the questions I just don’t know the answers to, but luckily I have a cooking partner who helps whenever there is knife requirements that my puny arms won’t handle.

Anyway, the more delicious of these two recipes does require you to remember to marinate the chicken—ideally overnight, but a few hours or even less will do if you’re in a rush. Seriously, though: if you have time to marinate this for a night, do it. You won’t be sorry. The acid in the grapefruit juice make the chicken so tender and the soy sauce leaves the skin tight and glossy when it’s done roasting (or barbecuing, if you somehow live somewhere that’s not a frozen tundra wasteland right now). We ate it with roasted green beans, and it was quite possibly the best meal I’ve had all month.

The other recipe requires just as much soy sauce but the chicken is boiled in it instead of marinating in it, and the sauce reduces into a sticky glaze that’s more salty than flavourful. We still ate it, but it wasn’t worth it. Also, in an unrelated funny fact, this recipe was supposed to be for chicken wings only, but the night I decided to make it was in the middle of the floods that are (still) paralysing Northern England, and a weird side effect of Northern England being flooded out is that deliveries can’t make it to Scotland. As an American, it didn’t occur to me that if England was blocked, nothing would be able to get through to Scotland, because I’ve never lived on an island this small. But the day I went to pick up the ingredients, the grocery store looked like the grocery stores in Florida used to look when a hurricane was on the way. So, without access to ‘just wings,’ I ended up with a box of something called ‘thigh tenderloins,’ which did the job well enough but I still wouldn’t recommend this recipe unless you’re looking for a satisfying way to dehydrate yourself.

For previous battle recipes, see Apple Crisps, Macaroons, and Strawberry Shortcakes here and here.

The verdict:
Soy Chicken 1: Crispy, Tender Roasted Asian Chicken

5 spoons out of five. I still have some grapefruit juice leftover and this chicken is so good I’m considering making it again this weekend. Put it in to marinate tonight and you’ll be eating in high-style tomorrow night!

Soy Chicken 2: Soy-Glazed Chicken Tenderloins

2 spoons out of five. These weren’t a total disaster—as I said, we ate them. But they were too salty to impart any other flavours, and the texture was overall a bit too tough for us.

The recipe:

Crispy, Tender Roasted Asian Chicken

The directions:

In a large, shallow dish or Ziploc bag, mix together soy sauce, grapefruit juice, sugar, and ginger.
Add chicken pieces and stir thoroughly to coat.
Cover and marinate in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Remove chicken from marinade and brush with oil.
Roast 30 minutes at 200C/400F, then place under broiler (grill for you Brits!) for an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler.
Chicken is done when it's glossy on the outside and the juices run clear when it's cut.

The ingredients:

1 c soy sauce
1 c grapefruit juice
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 chicken, cut into pieces
1/4 c vegetable or other neutral oil

The recipe:

Soy-Glazed Chicken Tenderloins

The directions:

Put oil in a cast-iron pan and heat until shimmering.
Add chicken and saute until chicken is yellow.
Add soy sauce until bottom of pan is covered, then sprinkle brown sugar over the pan and stir to combine and coat chicken.
Cook over low heat and allow soy sauce and sugar to reduce into a sticky glaze.
Saute chicken 20 minutes or until done.

The ingredients:

1 tbsp olive or other neutral oil
1 package chicken wings or tenderloins
1 c soy sauce
2-3 tbsp brown sugar