Books, Cooking, Food, Recipe

Eat This While You Read That: Kris Keldaran

jaxsonI’m going to start this ETWYRT on an unusual note. I cooked a recipe I’m familiar with for this week’s dish, and that is thanks to my Dad. Dad, like me, was a military brat. His family landed in Hawaii for his highschool years, and it left a big impression on him, one he passed on to me (and presumably my sisters, but I can only speak for myself). So I’m a sucker for Hawaiian food, and Dad taught me this recipe.

So when Kris Keldaran suggested it to pair with his steamy Hawaiian romance story, I jumped at the chance to cook it, even if it did mean grilling in January.  I reviewed his book Jaxson when it came out, enjoyed it immensely, and now the sequel is out. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but when you read it you may note certain characters with familiar names… it’s always fun to be tuckerized. So pick up the first one if you hadn’t read it (and don’t worry, it’s a romance but it’s also a fun action thriller read for those who worry over cooties) or grab Joachim and you’ll have plenty of time to read while the chicken is marinading. huli sauce-1

Gather your marinade ingredients, some bone-in chicken (the traditional is a whole chicken spatchcocked or cut into parts, I used thighs), and let’s get ready to Huli!

Yes, you read that right. Not hula, Huli-Huli Chicken. Huli is the Hawaiian word for ‘turn’ and that’s exactly what you do with this Island Barbecue favorite.

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Eat This While You Read That: Kris Keldaran


  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1/4 c palm or brown sugar
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/3 c Mirin (rice wine)
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame oil (this stuff is potent, you don't need too much)
  • 2-3 tbsp Ginger root, coarsely chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed or coarsely chopped.
  • 2-3 tsp chilli paste (more if you want spicy)
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • a whole chicken cut up, or 2-3 lbs chicken thighs


  • Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Microwave for a couple of minutes or heat on stovetop until the sugar is dissolved. Cool and put some of it (I put about 1/3) aside to use as the final sauce. Put the remainder in a ziploc with the chicken, and close, pushing as much air out as possible. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but overnight is better.
  • Remove chicken to hot grill, or oven at 375 deg F, and baste with the marinade every five minutes, turning each time (that's the Huli) you do so. You can use the marinade for this safely since you are cooking it along with the meat. As the inner temp of the meat approaches 120 discontinue with the marinade basting. Discard any remaining marinade.
  • On the stovetop heat the excluded sauce that was not used in the marinade to a boil, and let it reduce, stirring often, until it is thickened. Use this for the final brush after the meat is finished cooking. Serve and enjoy!
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    I love ziploc bags for marinading. I usually huli the bag, too, every few hours if I’m leaving it rest for a while. huli huli chicken-1

    Get a good batch of coals as hot as the book Kris wrote, and you’re ready to grill even in the dead of winter.  huli huli chicken-3

    Man, that’s good looking meat after the marinade starts to brown up nicely. Keep an eye on it – all that sugar will burn fast. huli huli chicken-5

    Crispy, caramelized, spicy, savory… this recipe has it all, and the meat stays juicy inside.

    huli huli chicken-7

    Serve with rice and coleslaw to be traditional – and better yet, grill some pineapple alongside the chicken. Sheer deliciousness. We had ours with sticky rice flavored for onigiri ( I made mine into proper onigiri with nori, but the First Reader doesn’t do seaweed) and the First Reader’s slaw recipe. Oh, and his take on this meal? “It’s chicken. The sauce is really good, though! we should try it on pork.”

    We shall.

    huli huli chicken-9
    Kris Keldaran’s Huli-Huli Chicken

    You can find the slaw recipe here, although it’s more a guideline than a flat-out recipe. The index page for ETWYRT is here, and there’s a new facebook group if you would enjoy interacting with fans of food and fun there.