If you are looking for a quick and easy recipe yet is different and delicious, try this Asian chicken thighs recipe.
There are only two main steps you need – marinate and bake.
Why this Asian chicken thighs recipe work?
This recipe works because:
- The flavor penetrates deep into the meat as a result of marinating the chicken overnight.
- The combination of spices in the five-spice powder provides the unique Asian flavor that is unique and well-balanced.
What is five-spice powder?
Five-spice powder 五香粉 is a combination of five Asian spices, which is an essential ingredient for a wide range of Chinese cuisines.
The typical mix of the Chinese five spices powder comprises of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, peppercorns, and cloves. The ratio may vary from brand to brand, and some brands may have a slightly different composition.
Most of the Chinese households and restaurants do not make the spice mix themselves, as Chinese five-spice powder is available in most of the supermarkets and restaurant suppliers.
How to make the best marinade for Asian chicken thighs
Five-spice powder is the main ingredient of the marinate. I suggest using one tablespoon full of the five-spice powder for one kg of chicken to have enough spice flavor. You can reduce it to 2 tsp or up to 1.5 tbsp depending on your liking.
Light soy sauce is the next essential item on the list. It provides the saltiness and has umami, which is vital in this recipe. Since the color of the chicken will turn darker after baking, I use only the light instead of the dark soy sauce. Furthermore, dark soy sauce is lack of flavor compared to light soy sauce.
Sesame oil is a welcome component because of the flavor. One to two teaspoons are sufficient as it has a strong flavor.
Oyster sauce is optional. You can omit it and increase the amount of light soy sauce and sugar.
Shaoxing wine is the most popular cooking wine for Chinese cooking. If it is unavailable, substitute it with any rice wine or Sherry. Omit is if you do not take alcohol.
Garlic and ginger. There are two options for the garlic.
- The first option is to add minced garlic and ginger to the chicken. The ginger and garlic have to be finely minced so that there are no noticeable large pieces.
- The second option is to use only the juice. You can place the minced garlic and ginger into a cloth bag and squeeze out the juice. The juice yields a better result as there is no worry that the garlic will get burnt in the oven.
Other ingredients. Add about one teaspoon of salt to the marinade. It does not require too much salt because soy sauce and oyster sauce are salty. Sugar helps to brown the surface and balance the saltiness. White pepper is optional because pepper is a component of the five-spice powder.
Alternative ingredients for the Asian chicken thighs marinade
You can make changes to the composition of the marinade to suit your taste, or if certain ingredients are unavailable. Here are some suggestions :
- Substitute the Chinese light soy sauce with the Indonesian sweet soy sauce. This sauce is widely used by the Indonesian/ Malaysian cuisine. Sweet soy sauce beef stew is one of my favorites. Another option is to use Vietnamese fish sauce to replace (or partially) the light soy sauce. The fish sauce is used to prepare Vietnamese pho, one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes worldwide.
- Worcestershire sauce is also a suitable component for the marinade. Try to substitute half of the light soy sauce with Worcestershire sauce.
- Oyster sauce is not an essential ingredient, which can be omitted.
- Ignore the wine if you prefer non-alcoholic.
- Add a teaspoon of chili powder if you like it spicy.
How long should I marinate the chicken
Marinate the chicken thigh at least for half a day, preferably overnight. If you are using bone-in chicken thigh, marinate for one day will enough the flavor penetrate deep into the part near the bone.
Can I marinate the chicken in advance?
There is no issue to marinate it in advance and freeze them. I have food vendors who supply frozen chicken chops to the restaurants, which we stored in the freezer for up to two months without any noticeable deterioration of flavor.
Bake the chicken
Bake the chicken thighs on the wire rack, on the upper rack of the oven at 190°C/375°F for thirty minutes, then turn over and drizzle the remaining marinade on it. Continue baking for ten minutes or until it reaches the desired color.
Alternative to baking/roasting
If you do not have an oven, you can pan-fry the chicken instead. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits at the thick part of the chicken thighs. Otherwise, the part that is near to the bone may not be cooked fully when the skin has already turned to the desired color. You can consider using a non-stick pan to reduce the use of oil and avoid the skin from sticking to the pan.
These Asian chicken thighs are ideal as the main course for dinner. I like to serve along with some stir-fried vegetables and rice as the side dishes.
- Place the chicken thighs in a large bowl.
- Add all the ingredients and mix well with the chicken thigh. Marinate overnight.
- Arrange the chicken thigh on the roasting rack. Bake the chicken at 190°C/375°F for 30 minutes.
- Turn over the chicken thigh, then drizzle the leftover marinade on the chicken.
- Continue baking for another ten minutes, or until it reaches the desired color.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 406Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 166mgSodium: 4203mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 33g