How Four First-Generation San Francisco Chefs Grill a Chicken
We can all agree on hot dogs. But there are many ways to skin the bird.
It may be the most controversial element in the grilling lineup.
Hot dogs, hamburgers, maybe some flank steak, a couple skewers-worth of vegetables — but what to do with the chicken?
This year, we wanted to beyond the standard grilled chicken — so we asked four of our favorite chefs, all of whom come to Bay Area from foreign lands, to share their favorite grilled chicken recipe.
If your family hails from Peru, Algeria, Thailand or Indonesia (or you gravitate toward those cuisines), you might see something familiar here. Otherwise, you might find something intriguingly not familiar. We can absolutely make a case for how these four chicken recipes represent the American dream in miniature, or just, you know, an improvement on that bottle of teriyaki sauce sitting in your fridge. Your call!
Grilled Thai Chicken Wings
Chef: Kitiya Ditpare of Kitiya Thai Eats
Chef Kitiya Ditpare says this grilled chicken wings recipe was a family favorite: “It’s very simple and flavorful, without a lot of hard work,” she says. “My mom used to make it for us all the time when I was a kid. It brings back my childhood memories.”
If you’re not feeling like chicken, you can use the same marinade with pork, beef, or ribs. “The pineapple juice renders a great flavor and tenderizes the meat,” Ditpare says. “I like to serve the wings with our nam jim ped to add some kick to it.” You can pick up her nam jim ped (that’s a spicy cilantro sauce) online.
2 pounds chicken wings
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
½ tbsp garlic, chopped
½ tbsp ground coriander seeds
½ tbsp cilantro stems, chopped
Vegetable oil, for grill
¼ cup Kitiya’s Nam Jim Ped (Spicy Thai cilantro sauce)
In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sea salt, ground coriander seeds and cilantro stems. Pat chicken wings dry and place in a large bowl. Add marinade mixture and toss to coat. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Heat grill to medium heat. Oil grill grates with vegetable oil. Add wings and cook until skin is crisp and meat is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve wings hot with Kitiya’s Nam Jim Ped.
Indonesian Chicken Skewers
Chef: Siska Silitonga of Warung Siska
Jakarta-born chef Siska Silitonga will soon open her brick-and-mortar warung in Redwood City — not far from where she once fed the Google crowds at the tech giant’s edition of Off the Grid. The daughter of a professional chef, she’s been in the U.S. for 16 years. “For me, Independence Day is a reminder that the U.S. is still the land of opportunity,” she says. “Although my Indonesian community is small compared to other Asian-Amerian communities in the U.S., representation matters. My America is your America.”
For this recipe, Silitonga shared several tips and tricks: Want a better satay sauce? “Buy raw peanuts with skin, roast the peanuts with the skin, and add a bit of salt and oil before roasting them in a 370-degree convection oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the peanuts turn brown.” You’ll also want to swap out brown sugar for coconut sugar if you can. “It tastes so much better,” Silitonga says. And instead of your standard Whole Foods ginger, see if you can find “sand ginger” at “any Chinese herbal medicine store,” where it’ll be called kencur. “It’s our secret ingredient,” she says. “You want to grind the dried ginger until it becomes powder.” Finally: the suggested topping for the dish is fried shallots or fried onion. “We typically serve it with sticky rice, or ‘lontong,’ and pickled cucumber,” she says.
For the peanut sauce:
150 g roasted peanuts
10 g shallots
10 g garlic
6 g tamarind paste
10 g Bird-eye chili
3 Makrut limes
50 ml sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
5g coconut oil
300g (1¼ cups) water
10g coconut sugar or brown sugar
20g (about 4 teaspoons) fresh squeezed lime juice
Rough chop and light sauté shallots, garlic, chili, and ginger. Rough chop (cut the middle stem) makrut lime leaves. Grind or blend all the ingredients including the peanuts, aromatics until coarse (or smooth if you prefer that texture). Simmer all ingredients in a pot over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom to keep from burning.
For the skewers:
200 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3-5 ea skewers, soaked in water
5 g salt
3 g white pepper
10 g minced garlic
5 g ground coriander
10 g sweet soy sauce
10 g coconut oil
10 g melted salted butter for basting
Cut chicken thigh into cubes/strips. Season the chicken with all the spices. Place 3-4 cubes/strips of chicken onto the skewers. Grill the skewers, occasionally baste with butter. Serve with peanut sauce. Garnish with sliced cucumber, chopped cilantro and sliced onion.
Kayma’s Grilled Dajaj
Chefs: Wafa and Mounir Bahloul of KAYMA
“It’s exciting to be in the U.S. for the Fourth of July, as it’s a two day celebration for us with Algerian independence day on the following day, July 5th,” said husband-and-wife team Mounir and Wafa Bahloul. “The U.S. is now our home, so we love being able to celebrate both of our countries within two days.”
The Bahlouls, whose KAYMA concept can be sampled at La Cocina’s Municipal Marketplace food hall, recommend marinating the chicken overnight: “The olive oil, yogurt, and vinegar make the chicken meat tender so the longer you marinate the more tender your chicken will be.” Similarly, soak those wood skewers overnight to prevent grill burn — and most important, they say, is sprinkling those skewers with cumin. “In the Algerian culture, cumin and chicken go hand in hand — it’s the key to this recipe!”
2-3 large boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
Ground cumin for sprinkling (at the end)
For the marinade:
¼ cup white vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
3 tablespoon light red pepper powder (not spicy)
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
1.5 tablespoon of salt
¾ cup of plain Greek yogurt
Cut the chicken breast in 1-inch cubes. In a large container, combine all of the marinade ingredients, except for the cumin. Add chicken to marinade and massage it with your hands.
Cover the chicken and put in the refrigerator, let it sit overnight or at least 4 hours.
When you are ready to grill, thread pieces of chicken on a skewer (3-4 pieces per skewer). Heat grill to medium heat and cook 5 minutes, each side. Check the chicken with a meat thermometer to make sure they are cooked through to 165 degrees.
After you pull the chicken off the grill, sprinkle it with ground cumin on both sides and serve! I recommend serving with a salad or kus kus or as an small appetizer.
Serves 4-6 people with sides.
Anticuchos de Pollo
Chef: Victoriano Lopez of La Mar Cebicherías
Born in the Ancash region of Peru, Victoriano Lopez is now corporate executive chef at the San Francisco outpost of La Mar Cebicherías. (Like Lopez, La Mar is a proud product of Peru, with its original location in Lima.)
For our July 4th gathering, Lopez submitted anticuchos de pollo, a popular Peruvian grilled snack-on-a-skewer most notably made with beef heart. Here, he’s substituted skinless chicken for beef heart: “We play around basic ingredients, garnishes, and sauces, which achieves a novel, easy, and, most importantly, very tasty recipe,” Lopez says.
2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thigh
Anticuchera sauce (see below)
Huacatay cream (see below)
Cooked sweet potato
Cooked choclo (Peruvian corn)
For the anticuchera sauce:
4 tablespoons of ají panca
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of dry oregano leaf
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Ground cumin to taste
Start by mixing all ingredients in a large container but hold canola oil. Once all are incorporated add canola oil slowly by mixing with a spoon so it will not emulsify. And reserve for marinating the chicken thighs.
For the anticucho:
Clean the chicken of nerves and fat and cut it into large cubes. Marinate with anticuchera sauce for 30 minutes and insert soaked wood skewers. Place on the grill or in a hot pan and cook the anticuchos until golden on the outside and juicy on the inside. Glaze with the marinade and cook for a few more minutes.
For the huacatay cream:
4 lbs. cleaned jalapeño
3 lbs. cleaned aji Amarillo
1 lbs. garlic cloves
2 lbs. red onions
8 oz huacatay
8 oz parsley
24 oz canola oil
3 oz salt
0.7 oz black pepper
0.7 oz cumin
1 oz sugar
Start by sweating garlic and onions. Then add aji Amarillo and jalapeño until well cooked. Let cool and reserve. Add all ingredients to a blender, but reserve the huacatay and parsley, blend until a creamy texture. Finish by adding huacatay and parsley; blend enough so you can still notice little dots of both herbs.
Serve the anticuchos on a platter or plates, accompany with cooked sweet potato, cooked choclo (Peruvian corn), and huacatay cream
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