This Grilled Chinese Char Siu Chicken will remind you of the roast pork you find in Chinatown. The flavor is sweet and smokey, and best of all, there is no artificial coloring in this version.
Although I haven’t been to Chinatown in many years, I remember walking by the stores with various roasted meats hanging in the window, including Char Siu Pork with its brilliant red color. Although the beautiful red color is one of the things that makes Char Siu Pork appealing, once I realized it was red food coloring that gave it this distinctive quality, I rarely bought it. Instead, I started making it at home every once in a while; but, somehow it just didn’t seem the same without the red color.
Recently, I came across a recipe in Saveur by Chef Shepherd of the Underbelly restaurant in Houston, Texas. Chef Houston very smartly uses beet powder to color his Char Siu Chicken. I had bought a pack of beet powder from myspicer.com earlier this summer but hadn’t figured out what to use it in. So, I was curious what beet powder would look like in this recipe where it replaces red food coloring.
I’m not sure how beet powder is made, but I imagine it is dehydrated beets that have been pulverized. I took a taste and it tastes just like beets.
The key to this Grilled Chinese Char Siu Chicken recipe is to let the chicken marinate in the char siu sauce for two days. The color is brilliant and the flavors run deep. I made this for my family this past weekend and it was a huge hit. Every last piece was devoured.
Grilled Chinese Char Siu Chicken Recipe
- 1/4 cup organic brown sugar
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup organic ketchup
- 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon beet powder
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free hoisin sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- cooking oil spray
In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, beet powder, vinegar, hoisin sauce, five-spice powder, salt and pepper. Add chicken and toss well, coating all the pieces well; cover and refrigerate for two days to marinate.
Heat grill; spray cooking oil on grates; grill chicken until cooked through, about 10 minutes per side.
Adapted from Saveur
If you like this Grilled Chinese Char Siu Chicken recipe, you might also like:
Grilled Thai Curry Cilantro Garlic Chicken
Grilled Vietnamese Lemongrass Cilantro Chicken
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
I always love cha siu pork, but have never thought of making char siu chicken! What a brilliant idea. And you know what? I even have beetroot powder in my pantry!! Do you think it will work with chicken breast? I am afraid it would be too dry.
I used chicken thighs because they don’t dry out as easily as chicken breast. I think chicken breast would be fine but the texture will probably be drier.
Marla Meridith says
This chicken looks wonderful!!
Thanks Marla – the marinade is so good!
Rachel @ athletic avocado says
I totally need to get beet powder, what a lovely way to enjoy chicken! 🙂
Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says
I am so intrigued by the beet powder!!! love a good char on my chicken. . this looks great!!!!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Sweet and smokey, that just sounds like heaven to me! Excellent!
Awesome! I used skin-on drumsticks just as directed. Yes, you must be patient (its passive time anyway) to get that rich deep glaze. I garnished the chicken with sliced scallions. Definitely will make this again! Thanx !
Bochnia – so glad you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for letting me know!
Also I added 1 small piece of ginger for a bit of flavor and I am glad I did. But that is just my personal taste
I like your addition of ginger – thank you for sharing that!
I love this recipe, I’ve made this numerous times with both pork and chicken. I’ve even featured it on my blog – I hope you don’t mind, if you want to check out the post, I’ve included the link in my details.
Thanks – glad you have been enjoying this recipe!
Is the beet used for flavour or colour? Can I use mashed beet instead?
The beet powder is for color, not flavor. I haven’t tried mashed beets, but it might work (or try beet juice).
Suet Horhota says
If I don’t have a grill, can I use the oven instead? I’m guessing 375 for an hour?
Roasting in the oven should work fine. If you want a little char, broil at the end for a few minutes.
Made this, got applause and kiss from husband and son. Thank you… Love the recipe.
So glad you and your family enjoyed this recipe – thanks so much for letting me know!
Fabulous recipe. I made own
own beet powder as I could not get it where I live. Second time to make it. Its delicious. Thank you
Hi Deirdre – so glad you enjoyed this recipe! I’m so impressed that you made your own beet powder!