Huli Huli Chicken is a Hawaiian treat for the upcoming Spring and Summer months not to be missed. Huli-Huli Chicken is one of those great "only-in-Hawaii" foods. When we moved to Hawaii, because my Father got stationed here, we were embarking on a culinary and cultural journey that was hard to imagine. Hawaii was probably one of the most ethically mixed places one could imagine. No where was this more evident that at the Church we came to call home for the four years we lived there. Chinese and Japanese, Filipino, Tongan, Korean, Hawaiians, Black, Hispanic and of course White people. It was a vibrant community of faith and a great congregation for a young family such as my Parents had. We learned a lot about many cultures and cultural traditions and culinary traditions through our Church. Enhancing not only our souls but our temporal lives as well.
The Women in the household, my Mother and Grandmother ( her Mother who had come to live with us) also made inroads in the greater community beyond the Naval Base where we lived. For example my Mother became active in the community lobbying for better television programing for children. She launched an entire campaign to get the local stations to carry Captain Kangaroo. Meanwhile, my Grandmother helped found the first official Senior Citizen organizations while in Hawaii, the Silver Bells. She had some excellent experiences through fellowship, food and travel which really enhanced her life. And got to help a lot of people connect who otherwise never would have.
One of the hallmarks of living and being a part of a vibrant church was the potluck fellowship dinners that seemed to happen often as I recall. My family certainly got a lot of exposure to various types of foods from various cultures. Oh no ordinary church supper foods here. No! Here there were Lumpia, which are Filipino egg rolls and Kimchi beef dishes along with amazing fried rices. These were of course peppered by the normal mainland dishes offered up by the naval wives and other folks like fried chicken, green bean casserole, rolls and and array of salads. Not to mention all the baked goods, Jello molds and sweets form various households. All in all an amazing introduction to church potluck suppers I must say!
One other element of food which was introduced by way of this church experience was a method used to fundraise. That method I am referring too and which was used often as a fundraising platform was to host a big bbq dinner an sales event which would sell something called Huli Huli chicken. Now Huli means turn in Hawaiian. And that was appropriate. For the method used a large roadside grill to grill the chickens in a large rotating cage on a spit. Great clouds of dark charcoal smoke engulfed the grills as they would turn in the parking lot of the church slowly roasting the marinated birds to perfection.
Huli Huli chicken was the brain child of one man according to him. You see in 1955, Ernest Morgado of Pacific Poultry barbecued his version of teriyaki chicken for a farmers gathering.
The chicken was such a hit, it became a favorite Hawaii fundraiser, raising perhaps millions over the ensuing years for schools, churches, softball teams and hula halau (hula groups).
Huli-Huli chicken all but disappeared after Morgado legally claimed his rights to the trademark, and started marketing a bottled sauce under that name.
Of course, you can still buy Huli-Huli-style chicken in the Islands, practically anywhere you see billows of great-smelling smoke emanating from a large roadside grill. It won’t be called Huli-Huli Chicken. But that's pretty much what it is.
This is a marinade recipe just eyeball it but these are good starting measurements.
The recipe is enough for about three chickens, split in half. You can use chicken pieces which is what I usually use. Marinate your chicken for at least a half-hour up to 3 hours or even overnight.
1/2 cup pinapple juice
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sherry
1-2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1-2-more pieces ginger root, crushed
3 cloves garlic minced
Worchestershire sauce to taste
Sriracha or Asian chili paste (or red pepper flakes) to taste
Lemon juice about 1/2 a lemon
Brush the chicken with the remaining marinade while cooking over a grill. And don't forget to huli the chicken.