Vietnamese-style Barbecued Five-spice Chicken

Vietnamese-style Barbecued
Five-spice Chicken


2 pounds (900 g) chicken thighs on the bone

The Marinade
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons dark or white sugar
2 teaspoons five-spice powder (see below)
2 tablespoons mirin (see below) or dry sherry
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine (see below) or dry sherry
2 tablespoons fish sauce (see below) or light soy sauce (see below)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground five-pepper mixture (see below) or black pepper
Blot the chicken thighs dry with paper towels.

In a food processor, combine the marinade ingredients and blend them to a puree.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the marinade and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
When you are ready to barbecue the chicken, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 40 minutes.
Preheat the gas grill to high or make a charcoal fire in the barbecue. When the gas grill is very hot or the charcoal is ash-white, grill the chicken thighs for 10 minutes on each side or until they are cooked.
Place on a warm platter and serve immediately.

Five-spice Powder is a mixture of star anise, Szechwan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cloves and cinnamon. It is becoming a staple in the spice section of supermarkets and Chinese grocers always keep it in stock. It keeps indefinitely in a well-sealed jar.

Mirin is a heavy, sweet Japanese rice wine with a light, syrupy texture. There is no fully satisfactory substitute for this item, but dry sherry can be used as an alternative. Many Chinese or Asian supermarkets or Japanese specialty food store will stock it and one bottle will last quite a long time and is well worth the search

Shaoxing Rice Wine is made from glutinous rice, yeast and spring water. It is readily available in Chinese grocers and in some supermarkets. Do not confuse this with sake, which is Japanese version of rice wine.

Fish Sauce is a thin brown sauce made from fermented, salted fresh fish. Cooking with it greatly diminishes the strong flavor and saltiness. The sauce simply adds a special richness and quality to dishes.

Light Soy Sauce is light in color, but it is full of flavor and is the better one to use for cooking. It is saltier than dark soy sauce and is known in Chinese grocers as Superior Soy.

Five-pepper Mixture or five-peppercorn mixture is a fragrant aromatic mixture of whole black, white, pink and green peppercorns, and allspice berries. Available in supermarkets, this mix, freshly ground, gives food a wonderful tasty touch. It is popular with fusion cooks and chefs because it bestows an added dimension to recipes.