If you want a quick and easy recipe with Asian flavors, try this Asian chicken thighs recipe.
There are only two main steps you need – to marinate and bake.
Why does this Asian chicken thighs recipe work?
This recipe works because:
- The flavor penetrates deep into the meat due to marinating the chicken overnight.
- The combination of spices in the five-spice powder provides a 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, an essential ingredient for a wide range of Chinese cuisines.
The typical Chinese five spices powder mix comprises cinnamon, fennel, star anise, peppercorns, and cloves. The ratio may vary from brand to brand, and some brands may have slightly different compositions.
Most Chinese households and restaurants do not make the spice mix, as Chinese five-spice powder is available in 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 of the five-spice powder for one kg of chicken to have enough spice flavor. Depending on your liking, you can reduce it to 2 tsp or up to 1.5 tbsp.
Light soy sauce is the next essential item on the list. It provides saltiness and has umami, which is vital in this recipe. Since the color of the chicken will turn darker after baking, I use only light instead of dark soy sauce. Furthermore, dark soy sauce lacks flavor compared to light soy sauce.
Sesame oil is a welcome component because of its 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 brown 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 garlic.
- The first option is to add minced garlic and ginger to the chicken. The ginger and garlic have to be finely minced so there are no noticeable large pieces.
- The second option is to use only the juice. Place the minced garlic and ginger into a cloth bag and squeeze 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. You may also include Hoisin sauce and fish sauce for a change.
Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl before adding them to the chicken to distribute them well.
Alternative ingredients for the Asian chicken thighs marinade
You can change the marinade ingredients 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 in 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 prepares Vietnamese pho, one of the most popular 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 that can be omitted.
- Ignore the wine if you prefer non-alcoholic.
- Add a teaspoon of chili powder or red pepper flakes if you like spicy.
How long should I marinate the chicken?
Marinate the chicken thigh for at least half a day, preferably overnight. If you use bone-in chicken thigh, marinating for one day will be enough for the flavor to penetrate deep into the part near the bone. You may you boneless chicken thighs meat instead.
Note: You can substitute the chicken thighs with chicken breasts or wings. The method and other ingredients are the same.
Can I marinate the chicken in advance?
There is no issue with marinating it in advance and freezing them. I have food vendors who supply frozen chicken chops to the restaurants, which we store in the freezer for up to two months without any noticeable flavor deterioration.
Bake the chicken
Place chicken thighs on the wire rack, single layer, skin side up, on the upper rack of the oven. Apply olive oil on the skin and bake at 190°C/375°F for about thirty minutes, then turn it over and drizzle the remaining marinade. Continue baking for ten minutes or until it reaches golden brown. The exact cook time should be when the internal temperature reaches 74°C/165°F when the chicken is cooked. It can be measured with a meat thermometer and inserted into the thickest part of the chicken meat. Do not overcook it to ensure you get the tender chicken thighs.
Alternative to baking/roasting
If you do not have an oven, pan-fry the chicken with a large skillet. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits at the thick part of the chicken thighs. Otherwise, the part near 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. Lastly, use an air-fryer which requires less oil.
This easy dinner recipe is ideal for the whole family. I like garnishing it with some green onion, sesame seeds, and a sweet chili sauce. It is best to serve it with French fries, green beans, stir-fried vegetables, or bok choy and Jasmine rice.
- 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
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 3/24/2020