Huli-huli chicken is a grilled chicken dish in Hawaiian cuisine, prepared by barbecuing a chicken over mesquite wood, and basting it with a sweet huli-huli sauce real football jerseys.
In 1954, Ernest Morgado, a naval intelligence officer during World War II, and Mike Asagi, a chicken farmer, founded the Pacific Poultry Company in ‘Ewa, Hawaii. The next year, at a meeting with farmers, Morgado and Asagi first barbecued chicken in a teriyaki-like sauce, Morgado’s grandmother’s recipe. After seeing its popularity, Morgado began cooking huli-huli chicken at fundraisers. Millions of dollars have been raised over the years for charities by selling huli-huli chicken, according to Morgado’s stepson. Fundraisers at churches and schools selling huli-huli chicken were common around Hawaii for many years.
Huli is the Hawaiian word for “turn.” As the dish was originally made on a grill with a make-shift spit, people would shout, “huli,” when they rotated the chickens to cook and baste the other side. Morgado, through the Pacific Poultry Company, trademarked “huli-huli” in 1967.
Morgado became famous with his huli-huli chicken recipe. He served on the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, was appointed honorary vice consul of Portugal, and was awarded the Honolulu Portuguese Chamber of Commerce’s “Council’s Cup” in 1981. Later, in 1986, Morgado bottled and sold huli-huli sauce in stores.
Currently, huli-huli chicken can be found all around Hawaii football jersy, from restaurants and road-side stands to mini-marts and drive-ins. At many locations, chicken are cooked on racks en masse and sold.
Morgado never released the recipe he used for huli-huli sauce, but many chefs have tried to figure it out.
In the sauce, or glaze, some ingredients appear in many recipes, such as pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, honey or brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Some recipes may call for lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce
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, Sriracha or red pepper flakes, rice wine or sherry vinegar, chicken broth, white wine, or mustard. Some recipes call for brining the chicken in a solution with kosher salt, sugar, bay leaves, garlic, sesame oil, or thyme, before marinating it in the sauce.
The chicken can be cooked on a grill or a rotisserie. While cooking, it is regularly basted with the glaze, and turned over (“huli-ed”). Traditionally, it’s cooked over mesquite (kiawe) wood chips, to add a smoky flavor.
The primary ingredient of huli-huli chicken is actually a relative of the common domesticated chicken, bred with the Red junglefowl, introduced to Hawaii by the Polynesians more than a hundred years ago. These chickens freely roam the Hawaiian Islands, and if they roam into urban areas, they are either killed by locals for food, or by the county (on Maui at least), who gas them at the local SPCA facility. In the wild, like all birds, feral chickens are protected by Hawai’i state law.