Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chinese BBQ Chicken (Char Siew Gai)

Making your own Chinese bbq chicken or pork at home is easier than you think. Of course, there is the intimidation factor if you are of Asian heritage and a family tradition of buying the dish from the expert pit master. Almost everyone I know back in Asia will buy the roast from their favorite pit master, my grandma included. That woman can cook but I doubt that she has ever made her own chinese bbq. It wasn't until I moved to the States, out of sheer desperation, I attempted to make this dish on my own. Truth is, it is a lot easier than I thought it will be.

Since I have requests from my two sister to bake them a batch of my Char Siew Charn Bao for our gathering this weekend, I thought it will be a perfect time for me to try the Char Siew recipe for chicken instead of pork. Truth is, I prefer chicken over pork anytime. This will be my first attempt making this dish with chicken. I am glad to announce that the BBQ chicken came out really good. Will be making a lot of these in days to come.

Chinese BBQ Chicken
(Adapted from Lily's Wai Sek Hong )
3lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless

7½ tbsp Hoisin sauce

3 tsp garlic powder
6 tsp soy sauce
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp rose wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
3/4 tsp salt
Dash of pepper


2 tbsp dark soya sauce
2 tbsp honey or maltose
2 tbsp oil


Step 1: In a bowl, combine all the seasoning ingredients. Mix till well combined. Add in the chicken and let marinade for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Step 2: Lined a 9x9 baking dish with foil. Place chicken and the marinade in the baking dish.

Step 3: Cover baking dish with foil. Preheat a grill to 400F. Turn heat of middle burner to low. Place baking dish on grill. Cover and let cook for 20 mins, turning once halfway.

Step 4: Remove foil. Continue to cook till sauce has caramelized, another 15 to 20 mins.

Step 5: Prepare glaze. Combine dark soy, sugar and oil.

Step 6: Place chicken directly on the grill. Baste with glaze on both sides. Grill till glaze has caramelized and you get a nice shiny sheen on chicken.

Serve chicken as a main dish with rice or noodle. You can also use chicken as filling for buns, pies and pastry.


  1. Hi Lily

    I am going to try this BBQ chicken but is there any sub. for rose wine (dry sherry)? I am thinking of Chinese Cooking Wine (Shao Hsing Hua Tiao).

    This BBQ Chicken will be part of the filling for the Char Siew Sou that I am planning to make. As for Char Siew Sou, can I replace lard/shortening for canola oil or just use all butter?

    Thanks, Gin

  2. @Gin: I am not Lily. My name is Reese. I adapted the original recipe from Aunt Lily and make it with chicken and a few twist to my liking. To answer your question: yes, you can use chinese cooking wine too in lieu of rose wine. You are better off to replace shortening with butter for the char siew sou dough. However, the end result will not be as flaky and light. You really need to use shortening to achieve the texture. Hope that helps!