Hawaiian Cold Ginger Chicken

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My brother-in-law, Mike, was stationed on Oahu for four years when he was in the Air Force. He has told Jeff and I stories about mountain biking through passion fruit groves and almost swooning from the intoxicating aroma of the fruit mixed with all of the other amazing scents you encounter when you’re on a Hawaiian island. He likes mangoes too…hee hee. ‘Nuff said 😉

Jeff and I planned a 10 day trip to Maui in 2003 and before we left we asked Mike if there was anything we needed to see or do while we were there. The only two things he said we HAD to do was go to “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and get a cold ginger chicken plate lunch. Well, we did get to see Cheeseburger in Paradise but, frankly, the 2 hour wait seemed a bit extreme for a cheeseburger. We scoured the island looking for the elusive cold ginger chicken plate lunch. A couple times we found places that served it, but they were always out. We never did have cold ginger chicken while on Maui, and I don’t think I’ve ever been brave enough to tell Mike.

When we got home I looked for a recipe for cold ginger chicken plate lunch online and actually found a couple authentic Hawaiian recipes for this mouthwatering delicacy. After some tweaking, and about 20 batches I think I might make it better than the Hawaiians, of course it is impossible for me to know for sure. I’ve added a bit of vinegar and brown sugar to my recipe, which I think makes this once very good recipe absolutely fantastic.

We just had the privilege of spending the day with Jeff’s dad Greg, his bro Mike and Mike’s wife Robin this past weekend. They are the nicest people you will ever meet, and we can’t wait to see them again. Already trying to coordinate a trip out to Spokane to visit!

Although you do have to be a ginger fan to enjoy this, don’t worry about the whopping two CUPS of ginger that the recipe calls for. Something magical happens when you mix the pureed ginger with the olive oil.

Cold Ginger Chicken

Rub 2 fryer chickens (skin on) with a generous amount of kosher salt (about 1/2 cup)

peel of two tangerines or limes

Allow chicken to chill in fridge with the salt rub for 2 to 24 hours. Boil with citrus peel until just done.

Cool on counter. Cover and chill in refrigerator until completely cold.


2 cups fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

8 stalks green onion plus tops, chopped

4 cloves garlic

3 cups extra virgin olive oil (or a combination of EVOO and peanut oil)

6 Tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Puree in food processor until smooth. Chill completely. When ready to serve, plate the chicken and top with the sauce. Garnish with extra chopped green onion if desired.




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  8 comments for “Hawaiian Cold Ginger Chicken

  1. Robin
    June 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Leisa!
    Popped in to check on your website and saw this entry! We had such a nice time visiting with you guys, and the food was FABULOUS! Gracie was a hoot, and I am dying to get our kids together for some fun. Thanks again for a wonderful afternoon…hopefully we can do another much, MUCH, sooner than we waited this past time, eh?
    Love, Robin

  2. June 30, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Hi Robin!
    We loved hanging out with you guys! Glad you liked the food 🙂 We are so looking forward to getting our families together again as soon as possible.

    Love and Hugs,

  3. Aviva
    February 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Melissa this recipe sounds but i am a bit confused #1:Whole or cut up chicken #2:You say tangerine or lime peel in the rub what do you do with it?Chop,zest? What about the fruit itself do you juice it & add to the salt rub? #3:My chicken is kosher it has already been salted do i still salt rub it? #4:You say to boil chicken with what water, juice i am so confused but it sounds amazing & i want to make it!Help me out!! Can’t wait to make this.
    Can i cook chicken one day & serve w sauce another? I can taste it hurry!!!:) 🙂

    • Melissa
      February 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Hello there Aviva! LOL…you actually made me laugh out loud. This is one of those recipes that I’ve made so many times that I forget other people haven’t 😉 Use a cut up chicken (such as a fryer…with bones and skin still on.) just put the citrus peelings right in the water when you boil the chicken. don’t do anything with the fruit itself. Maybe try not adding extra salt to your chicken if it’s already salted. When you boil the chicken, just put the pieces in a big stock pot along with the citrus peel…cover with water and boil until chicken is just done. when chicken is done cooking, remove it from the water before placing it in a container and covering it so it can chill in the fridge completely. I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂 XOXOXO ~Meliss

  4. Aviva
    February 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm


  5. March 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Melissa, I just had to leave a comment after seeing your recipe at my Tropical party! It truly is a great find, and I shall be trying this out for sure. The flavours I can imagine will tingle and tangle my tastebuds and possibly shut me up for a moment or two whilst I eat! thanks very much for introducing me to this brilliantly inspired dish.,
    Mary from Lovefoodies

    • Melissa
      March 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Hi there Mary! thanks for visiting and commenting 🙂 this is one of my absolute favorite things to eat. So glad you like the recipe! enjoy! xoxo ~Melissa

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