kruizing with kikukat

Monday, February 27, 2012

Almost Hoki's: Fried Ginger Chicken

The high point of this week in the Kikukat house was D1 getting her braces off.  She has had them since Spring of 2009.  Well, she has sort of had them on since 2009.  I say sort of because, as I found out last week, she has been removing the main wire herself to periodically clean her teeth.  No wonder it took so long!  and more importantly, how did this get by all the adults?!?  I had braces while I was growing up, and I NEVER took the main wire out.  I don't think I would even know where to begin now!  Anyway, D1 can now enjoy actually biting into foods like whole apples, pears, and fried chicken.  Perhaps if she hadn't been practicing orthodontics on herself, she may have been able to bite into the chicken I fried for AE's New Years Day party.
showing off them pearly whites

As I was saying a few weeks ago, I was asked to bring desserts and fried chicken to AE's party.  While I'm not crazy about all the dirtiness accompanying frying, I do enjoy a salty mouthful of fried chicken (and fried chicken skin!).  Given the history of food service at AE's, I realized that the fried chicken might be the only non-dessert food I get to eat.  I decided that it would be worth my while to get dirty and actually fry the chicken.

Perhaps in your home, fried chicken is a no-brainer/no recipe required entree.  In my home, I NEED to follow a recipe.  Fault can be traced back to my college days in Seattle.  The Hawaii club at UDub always did bento orders for meetings.  Being a deer-in-the-headlights freshman, I thought it would appear most cool to do as the masses. . .order a bento. 

Bento was always ordered from Hoki's, a hole-in-the-wall place in Ballard (northwest Seattle).  Hoki's was owned by the Hokama family, transplants from Hawaii.  Hmmm, I'm getting the feeling that I've told this story before.  Well, I'm old, so I'm allowed some degree of compromised mental function. Hoki's bento contained rice (sprinkled with furikake), takuwan, beef teriyaki, fried ginger chicken & macaroni salad.    It was the fried ginger chicken that became the standard by which all fried chicken would be judged.  Wow!!!  I was blown away by the distinct ginger flavor which perfumed each crisp  bite.  I knew that Mountain View Gramma's  salt & pepper fried chicken would no longer be the best.

When UDub students had the fortuitous occasion to have possession of a car, there was always a requisite trip to Hoki's to be made.  On one of these trips, I realized that fried ginger chicken could be ordered by itself (rather than part of a bento).  Oddly enough, the chicken in the bento was wing pieces, while the chicken in the plate lunch was deboned chicken thighs/breasts/etc. 

During the summer of 198_, when I remained in Seattle to take summer classes, my roommate Gayle took a job at a Japanese restaurant, Miya's, on the northern part of The Ave.  She encouraged us to have dinner there, so a few of us happily obliged.  I was pleasantly surprised to see fried ginger chicken on the menu.  Of course, I ordered it and discovered it was exactly like the deboned pieces at Hoki's.  I couldn't believe it. . .for the first eighteen years of my life, I had no clue fried ginger chicken even existed.  Now I had discovered two places, just a few miles apart, both serving the identical dish!

The mystery was solved when I attended a Fourth of July drunken party with Gayle (this was when I discovered Jack Daniels and I didn't get along).  I was surprised to see the Hokamas (of Hoki's fame) at the party.  Gayle explained that Mr. Hokama was a former employee of Miya's before striking out on his own. I figured someone shared the recipe.  I am in no way implying Mr. Hokama pilfered the recipe from Miya's. . .please read on.

Fast forward ten years.  Married.  No kids yet.  Just moved into a new home.  Trying to decide what to have for dinner, I perused a local Buddhist church cookbook and was intrigued by a fried chicken recipe.  I located the same recipe in a high school alumni cookbook AND, get this, in a cookbook my first grade (I was a first grader) class put together for Christmas.  I took a chance and made the chicken.  I was my beloved fried ginger chicken!  I guess nobody in Seattle did any recipe stealing if that many cookbooks contain the recipe.

Since then, I have been using this recipe as my standard (although it can hardly be called standard) fried chicken recipe.  I've made it with both wing pieces and deboned chicken pieces, and both work well (deboned thighs should be cut into 3 pieces, and deboned breasts should be cut into 5 or 6 pieces).  The one deviation I've made from the recipes was that I prefer the more robust taste of the chicken when it is marinated overnight (recipes said to marinate 1-2 hours).  I normally coat the chicken pieces in flour (sometimes I use a combination of cornstarch & potato starch) about 10 minutes before frying.

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Fried Ginger Chicken

     2 lbs chicken (wings, thighs, breast)
     1 tsp brown sugar
     2 tsp salt
     1/8 tsp pepper
     1 clove garlic, grated
     1 tsp ginger, grated
     2 tsp sake

Place chicken in a bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.  Marinate overnight.  Coat with flour or desired fry coating and fry until brown.

I mentioned earlier that D1 took her braces off, but she also went to Honolulu on Saturday to participate in Japan Wizard.  She said they placed 11th and assured me there were more than 12 teams (whew!).  D2 enjoyed a sleepover at a friends on Saturday night (thank you, Nicky & Miles).

As for me, I enjoyed a hot shower.  After 15 years, I replaced the original solar water heater.  It got to the point where I couldn't be absolutely certain the heater would switch from solar to electric (on cloudy days), and the reset button in the heater would also malfunction.  I'm $5700 poorer now, but I am no longer held hostage by the cloudy day, and I'll get more than half of the $ back in the form of a tax credit next year.  I'm feeling very fortunate because the day of installation happened to be the only sunny day all week.


  1. Sounds really yummy. I'll have to try this.

  2. Just stumbled upon this post! Thank you for sharing this story! Almost Hoki's ginger chicken will forever remain almost! Mr. Hokama, Hoki and my father, knew how to make it best!!!

    1. Definitely! I will never forget my first taste of that ginger chicken. It was like nothing I ever had before.

      I will also never forget how your parents helped ease the homesickness of many Hawaii kids by providing mouthfuls of comfort. . .when you're jonesing for home, there is nothing like fried chicken, white rice, and furikake. Please pass on my gratitude to your parents and the Hoki's Teriyaki Hut family.

    2. You have NO IDEA how long i have been looking for this recipe! Feel like i won the lottery!!!!

    3. You have NO IDEA how long i have been looking for this recipe! Feel like i won the lottery!!!!

    4. you have no idea how long i have looking for this recipe ... feel like i won the lottery!!!

    5. you have no idea how long i have looking for this recipe ... feel like i won the lottery!!!