If you love Chinese BBQ pork, you will love this BBQ chicken recipe.
In Cantonese/Chinese cuisine; char siu is sweet and savory barbecued pork. You typically see these long strips of pork hanging in the windows in Chinatown. In Vietnamese cuisine, it’s called xa xiu / xá xíu.
For this recipe, instead of pork, I will be making char siu chicken. I’m using a shortcut with a store-bought Chinese barbecue seasoning mix. You can find this packet of dry rub just about anywhere. If you’re in an Asian grocery store, chances are there will be many brands for the same kind of bbq meat rub. If you are in an American grocery store, you will most likely find the NOH brand seasoning mix, most likely in the oriental aisle.
Chinese barbecue seasoning mix has a distinctive red color from food coloring and a strong aroma of spices. There are instructions on the packet to simply mix the dry rub with water and marinate. I ignore all that. I’ve used the spice mix on its own before and always feel like the aroma is there but not quite the flavor. So to bring it up a notch, I’ll add a few extra ingredients from my pantry.
The result is a delicious sweet and savory chicken with a shiny and sticky glaze. It can be served with steamed rice, noodle soups, stuffed in Vietnamese sandwiches (Banh Mi Xa Xiu / Bánh Mì Xá Xíu) and steamed buns, toss in fried rice, or simply served on its own as appetizers.
For the chicken, I like to use bone-in and skin-in chicken thighs for maximum flavor. Of course, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a quicker cooking and healthier alternative.
Bone-in chicken thighs are naturally uneven so cut around the bone and make slits into the chicken meat so it lays flat. This makes cooking faster and more even. You can cook the chicken on the grill for that char smokey flavor or pop them in the oven to make roast chicken.
For best results, marinate the chicken at least for one day in the fridge. Two days would be better to allow the flavors a chance to really soak in. When chicken is done cooking, brush it with pan drippings or scallion oil for that finger-licking shiny finish.
Recipe below. Happy cooking!PRINTABLE RECIPE
Easy Char Siu / Chinese Barbecue Chicken Recipe with Spice Premix
- 4 lbs chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on preferred)
- 4 tablespoons red pork seasoning dry mix
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- Butterfly the chicken thighs so they lay flat and thin. Start off by cutting meat away from the thigh bone (the thickest area). Then turn the knife at an angle to cut the meat horizontally without cutting all the way through. Fold over the flap for more surface area.
- In a large bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Add chicken and toss well, coating all pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least one day to marinate or two days for better results.
- Cover a large baking sheet or roast pan with foil or parchment paper to reduce clean-up. Place a wire rack or roast pan on top. Lay chicken skin-side down without crowding.
- Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Broil on high for 4-6 minutes to char the skin. For a beautiful shiny finish, brush with pan drippings or scallion oil.
- Serve with steamed rice and a vegetable side dish for a complete meal.