Pulehu Chicken is an Hawaiian appetizers and main course. Learn the history and facts; easy pulehu chicken recipe and ingredients; and professional tips to make yours at home conveniently.
This article contains the following subheadings:
- Description: What it is, history, and facts.
- The Recipe: Detailed information on preparation and more.
One of the most popular Hawaiian dishes, pulehu chicken, might seem familiar to those who have tried other Hawaiian food like kalua pork or lomi salmon, but it’s actually quite different from those dishes and deserves its own spotlight. Pulehu chicken is traditionally made with a whole cut-up chicken placed in an underground oven known as an imu, and the flavors are similar to that of roasted chicken due to being cooked with smoke and earth.
What is Pulehu Chicken?
Pulehu chicken, native to the Hawaiian Islands, is made by rubbing raw chicken with Hawaiian sea salt and cooking it in an underground oven heated by hot rocks. The salt draws moisture from the chicken, causing it to steam slowly in its own juices without drying out.
Although pulehu chicken can be eaten without further seasoning, it can also be served as part of Hawaiian plate lunches and topped with lomi salmon.
The word pulehu means tender or to cook by boiling. This dish is traditionally made with a whole chicken, salt, water, ʻulu maʻi (coconut cream), ʻīlio (coconut oil), and limu kohu kula (kuahiwi or sea salt). The chicken is usually boiled in a large pot with the ingredients. It is served warm with ‘ōlena ki, salted butterfish as garnish. It can also be used as filling in sandwiches like loco moco or served with rice and macaroni salad on the side.
Pulehu chicken, or grilled chicken in Hawaiian, has become one of the most popular ways to prepare chicken throughout the islands, and it’s easy to see why! This dish involves marinating and grilling the meat, giving it an interesting and unique flavor that you won’t find in other chicken dishes.
Pulehu chicken also makes excellent leftovers, so you can make just enough to serve your family and then enjoy the rest later in the week as a protein-packed addition to meals like salads and sandwiches!
Kauai, an island in the Hawaiian archipelago, produces one of the most unique and flavorful chicken dishes in the world—pulehu chicken.
Traditionally, this popular dish involves chicken that’s been marinated, wrapped in ti leaves and cooked over pulehu charcoal—a volcanic rock used to heat traditional Hawaiian imu ovens.
While you can still find the traditional recipe, it’s also possible to make pulehu chicken in your own kitchen using local ingredients and modern preparation techniques.
Pulehu Chicken Recipe
Pulehu chicken is an old-school Hawaiian dish that’s basically chicken marinated in soy sauce and lemon or pineapple juice, then grilled over coals. It’s delicious, full of flavor and quite easy to make at home with just a few ingredients and some preparation time in the kitchen before the grilling begins! This recipe serves four people; simply double or triple the recipe if you need more servings.
Ingredients needed for Pulehu Chicken
- 1 pound chicken breasts or thighs boneless, skinless
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce shoyu, or tamari
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
How to make Pulehu Chicken step by step
- Marinate the ingredients for 20 minutes or overnight. [Optional]
- Place the chicken thighs on top of a piece of plastic wrap, then cover with another piece of plastic wrap.
- Pound the chicken with a mallet or rolling pin to tenderize the meat and even out the thickness of each piece.
- Then, combine the thighs with the dried seasonings and soy sauce in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Rub the dry ingredients into the chicken with your hands until it is completely coated. Allow 5-30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
- Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium-high heat (375°F to 400°F).
- Place the seasoned chicken on the hot grill grates with tongs, cook for 5 minutes with the grill closed, then flip the thighs and cook for another 10 minutes with the grill open.
- Remove the chicken from the grill with tongs and set aside for 5 minutes before slicing and serving with your favorite side dishes.
- Serve with rice, ume, kim chee, or potato salad as desired.
Recipe Video: How to make Pulehu Chicken
Learn how to make pulehu chicken. This is a video on how to prepare your pulehu chicken.
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