When we went to Chinatown in Boston over spring break, we picked up a few spices that are (unbelievably, and unfortunately) not easily found in our local supermarkets. Whole star anise and dehydrated galangal were among them, and we've been trying to incorporate these, and other, Asian flavors into our dishes lately. For instance, we used the galagal in last week's Spicy Chickpea and Carrot Tagine, and the star anise will be replacing the pinch of anise seed next time we make our version of Pho. As Chris put it, "I really like this spice set." Indeed. We love the musky, cedar taste of the galangal; the star anise is both sweet and aromatic, imparting an intriguing hint of licorice.
With the hopes of (literally) spicing up some Sunday chicken, we decided to marinate our chicken pieces in honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil with spices including the star anise and galangal. Garlic seemed to be necessary, and then, instead of onion, we chopped fresh chives from our garden, and used the lavender-colored chive flowers for our garnish. After marinating for 40 minutes or so, we roasted the chicken, basting every fifteen minutes or so. The flavors were excellent - sweetness from the honey, saltiness from the soy, bitterness from the garlic and chives, earthiness from the galangal, and that interesting aromatic flavor from the star anise - it was all there. The skin just didn't crisp up the way we would have liked. We think this was because we had the oven on 400 for the first half of the cooking time. Next time we'll marinate longer to really infuse the flavors into the meat, and we'll put the oven temperature a bit higher. Our recipe below reflects those changes.
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1 large piece dehydrated galangal
4 whole star anise
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
8 pieces chicken (we mixed drumsticks and thighs)
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
In a small saucepan, combine the water, soy sauce, honey, sherry, chives, galangal, star anise and garlic. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Whisk in the sesame oil and set aside. Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish and pat them dry. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 of the marinade over the chicken and allow to marinate 45 minutes to an hour. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place pan in oven and roast chicken, turning and basting with the additional marinade occasionally, until cooked, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.