What Four Texas Chefs From Around the World Are Grilling This 4th of July

Because any notion of “American” cuisine is by definition a thing that originated elsewhere

July 2, 2021 10:37 am
Roya's Persian chicken kabobs over an open flame
Roya's Persian chicken kabobs over an open flame
Roya Austin

The 4th of July comes with a pretty standard menu in most American households: burgers, hot dogs, maybe a rack of ribs or some bone-in steaks if someone’s feeling ambitious.

It’s all a bit tired, and more importantly, it doesn’t feel very … American. Why? Because the very notion of American cuisine — just like the very notion of American identity writ large — is something that should be informed by the diverse panoply of cultures and traditions that call this country home.

So we reached out to four standout Texas chefs from four very different backgrounds to ask them what their families like to throw on the grill come summer. From Hawaiian-style huli huli chicken to a Japanese marinade than you can put on just bout anything grill-able, these recipes will bring a welcome breath of fresh air to your cookouts this weekend and beyond.

It is called Independence Day, after all. Try something different for a change.

Salty Cargo's huli huli chicken
Salty Cargo’s huli huli chicken
Salty Cargo

Huli Huli Chicken

Chef: John Gocong of Salty Cargo

Salty Cargo is a fast casual Hawaiian restaurant by chef and owner John Gocong. With a location at Hana World Market in north Austin and a food truck at Celis Brewery, Salty Cargo serves Hawaiian staples with an Asian twist. 


Brown Sugar Soy
2 cups Brown sugar
3 cups Premium Soy Sauce
1 cup Apple Cider or White Vinegar
1 tsp Sesame Oil
5-inch Ginger
5clover Garlic
Heavy pepper to taste
1/3 pineapple 


Combine all ingredients into a pot. Bring to a light simmer (do not boil). Brine chicken in 2% salted water for at least 1 hour in the fridge. Pull chicken from the salted solution, move to marinade for 1 hour.

Grill chicken skin side down first. Let rest until char has seized and released chicken from the grill. Baste and flip then bast the skin side once more. At this point, you can leave the chicken to complete on the grill. if the color begins to becomes too present, move to a sheet tray or oven-safe tray and cook at 315-325 until a safe internal temperature has been achieved — 165-degree minimum. We like to rest immediately after cook. Garnish with Szechuan chili oil and cilantro or green onion.

Persian grilled chicken kabobs
Persian grilled chicken kabobs

Persian Grilled Chicken Kabobs

Chefs: Amir and Ali Hajimaleki of Roya, forthcoming in Austin

Owned by first generation Iranian immigrants Amir and Ali Hajimaleki, Roya will be a Persian dining concept serving traditional dishes from the region presented in a modern format. Roya, meaning “dream,” is a passion project for the brothers, who grew up in Iran and immigrated to the United States in 1993. The concept is slated to open in 2022. 



3 lb. boneless skinless chicken thigh meat cut into 1-2 in cubes
1 large sweet yellow onions (peeled and quartered)
1 tbsp lime zest
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp black pepper
1.5 tbsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp dissolved saffron  (pinch of saffron, with table spoon of hot water)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh garlic

Sumac Butter:

1/4lb melted butter
1 tbsp sumac


In a food processor, add onion, black pepper, saffron, garlic, olive oil and salt until finely chopped. Transfer onion mixture into a bowl and add lime juice and zest. Mix together chicken and marinade really well then refrigerate for 4-24 hrs.

Take chicken out of marinade and put on skewer. Grill until internal temperature of 165 F is reached. When the chicken is cooked and ready, brush with sumac butter and serve.

I suggest serving this with buttered basmati rice or bread with some grilled veggies and greek yogurt. If you don’t have skewers, keep the chicken thighs whole if grilling. This can also be substituted with chicken breast. 

Jo Chan
Jo Chan

Filipino Chicken Barbecue

Chef: Jo Chan of Eberly

Jo Chan, a 31-year-old Chinese Filipino living in Austin, is currently serving as the Executive Chef at Eberly. There, she has created a menu featuring delicious, classic fare with seasonal ingredients.


3 lb. chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
2 cups banana ketchup
1 cup lemon lime soda
½ cup dark soy sauce
½ cup white sugarcane vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup lime juice
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp sesame oil


In a large glass bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken thighs. Whisk until combined and sugar has dissolved completely.

Cut chicken thighs into strips, and add to mixture. Marinade in refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

Shake off excess marinade and thread onto skewers. Grill until cooked through and enjoy!

Serves 4-6.

Yoshi Okai
Yoshi Okai
Marshall Tidrick

The Perfect Sake-Miso Grilling Marinade

Chef: Yoshi Okai of Otoko

Yoshi Okai was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, where he was introduced to the culinary world at a young age through his family’s catering company. Because of his parents’ hectic work schedules, Okai and his three siblings were often responsible for cooking meals. 

In 1998, Okai landed in Austin after leaving landscaping school. He went on to serve as head sushi chef for six years at Uchi and Uchiko. After serving as head chef at East Side King, Okai joined the Qui team in 2014.  In 2015, Yoshi was named head chef of Otoko, New Waterloo’s 12-seat Japanese restaurant located at South Congress Hotel.


200g miso paste (white, yellow but NOT red!)
50g granulated white sugar
50ml cooking sake (Gekkeikan or Sho Chiku Bai works great here!)
Fresh grated ginger to taste


Use it to marinade whole fish (salmon and cod are the best) then grill away, or add it after grilling whole fish as a saucy condiment. Onigiri (rice balls) or extra firm tofu can be grilled and topped with this sauce as well for an easy snack. It’s also fantastic as a glaze on sliced eggplant and mushrooms. The recipe is enough to use for these items and makes about 8 ounces.


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