Grilled Asian Chicken & Vegetable Kebabs

Chicken wants to be grilled and glazed in the sweet, spicy, umami, flavors indicative of Asian cuisine(s). Ready in one hour, these kebabs are perfect for a weeknight dinner, or weekend grill session.

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) hoisin
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

GET CHEFFY TIP!- The proportions used in this marinade are a starting point for you. Remember that diagram of the human tongue that showed the areas that detected sweet, salty, sour, bitter etc.? That diagram’s been disproven (as the human tongue has different taste receptors for bitter, sweet, etc., all over it), but the principle of “flavor-types” we can perceive is still accurate. Ask yourself as you taste your food, “this sauce is too sweet….I’ll add more vinegar, lemon juice, etc. to balance it back out”; “this tastes too bland….I’ll add more soy, salt, honey, etc. to bring the sodium/sweetness levels up”. Cooking is a balancing act, and building your cooking confidence begins with knowing how to “rebalance” something if it’s not where you want it. Add more ginger, hot sauce, Chinese Five Spice powder (which contains cloves, cinnamon, fennel, etc.), sugar, honey, garlic, or anything else that you like to your marinade and make it your own.

FOR THE VEGETABLES:

  • 1-2 large, or 2-3 medium/small red onion(s) chopped into one large, one-inch dice
  • 4 large bell peppers, chopped into large, one inch dice. We used orange, and yellow, but any variety may be used
  1. Begin by taking a medium sized stock pot, and combining your soy, hoisin, garlic, coriander, brown sugar, honey, Sriracha, Sesame Oil, and two of the three tablespoons of sherry vinegar, and two of the three tablespoons of grated ginger. Whisk to combine.
  2. Pause, and taste your marinade. Take a spoon out, and dip it into your marinade to test for flavor profile out. Not sweet enough?…add more sugar/honey. Not hot enough?….add more Sriracha. Lacking some “oomphf?”…add in incremental bits of more garlic, more sesame oil, or any other additions you like until you have something you’re pleased with. Set aside.
  3. Chop your boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1 inch dice, and place in a ziploc bag, or other container, and pour your marinade over your chicken, reserving 3-4 tablespoons of your marinade in your stockpot. Cover, and refrigerate your chicken for at least 2 hours, but up to 2 days while it marinades.
  4. Take your reserved 3-4 tablespoons of marinade in your stockpot, and place over a burner at medium heat. Boil, and reduce your marinade by half. 5-8 minutes lowering your heat once a boil is reached. You’ll notice your marinade becoming a glaze, with a thicker texture, and larger bubbles beginning to appear while your sauce reduces. Watch your stock pot carefully as your glaze can burn quickly from the sugars it contains. Once your glaze has reduced down to 1-2 tablespoons, turn the heat off, and whisk in your two tablespoons apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar. Whisk to combine. This will be your “barbecue sauce” that you’ll brush over your kebabs later. Cover and refrigerate; this sauce will thicken as it cools.
A “two zone” charcoal grill. All coals are banked onto one side creating a “hot-zone” and a “cool zone”

5A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL:

After you’ve allowed your chicken to marinade for at least two hours, light a 3/4 full charcoal chimney. After about 15 minutes, you’ll begin to see light, gray ash appearing along the edges of your coals. Dump your coals into your pit, banked onto just one side of your grill. Your goal is to create a “hot-zone” and a “cool zone”. 

5B: FOR A GAS GRILL:

After you’ve allowed your chicken to marinade for at least two hours, turn all burners of your gas grill on high, and close the lid. Allow your grill to heat up, 5-10 minutes, before opening the lid, and scraping down the grates. Once your grill grates are clean, turn off one side of your burners completely and reduce the heat of your second side to medium.

  1. While your coals/grill heat, begin to skewer your chicken, onion, and peppers beginning with the chicken, followed by the onion, followed by the pepper; continue in this pattern until your kebab skewer is loaded. Try and end your kebab skewer with a piece of chicken, whenever possible.
  2. You should have anywhere from 5-7 kebab skewers once all of your ingredients are added. Taking your kebabs out to your grill, carefully place all skewers on your cool zone, away from the coals. Cover your grill, with the top vent fully open, and fully over your kebabs. The open vent will draw the heat, and smoke over your kebabs, allowing for gentle, consistent cooking.
  3. After 15 minutes, open your grill lid, and brush the upward facing side of the kebabs with your reduced marinade sauce. Turn your kebabs so that the end pointing away from the heat, now faces the heat. Once you’ve changed the ends of the kebabs, and all points that were away from the heat are now closer to the heat, flip them to ensure that the glazed side is facing downward, away from you. Glaze the new, upward facing side of your kebabs with sauce, cover your grill, and cook for another 15 minutes ensuring that the open vent is directly over your kebabs.
  4. After 30 minutes have passed, repeat the process of glazing and flipping two more times. Open your grill lid, brush glaze onto your kebabs, and flip them end-over-end. Rotate, so a new side is facing upward. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. After a total of 45 minutes have passed, open your lid a final time, reglaze, rotate, and reposition (if necessary) to ensure no kebab is getting too much heat. Use all remaining glaze at the 45 minute point. Cover your kebabs a final time for a final 15 minutes (for 1 hour total cooking time).
  5. Remove your kebabs from the grill, garnish with chives and sesame seeds and serve with rice, coleslaw, or enjoy by themselves!

2 thoughts on “Grilled Asian Chicken & Vegetable Kebabs

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