Soy Sauce Roasted Cornish Game Hen (Ga Mai Ro Ti)
Soy sauce roasted hen is a Vietnamese version of my French-Style citrus roasted chicken. It's almost the same procedure with a substitution of soy sauce and other Asian spices. I used a hen for the tenderness of the meat. It's always a winner amongst the carnivores in my house.
My favorite part of the soy sauce roasted hen is the dark sweet crispy skin. The only downside to this dish is that you have to be prepared and marinate the hens for at least 2 days for a guaranteed moist, flavorful bird.
Yields: 42 whole hens with skin, cut in half, lengthwise
1 Tbs papaya seeds, ground
3 Tbs plain yogurt
1 star anise
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 stick cinnamon, slightly crushed
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp baking powder
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 chunk ginger
1 Tbs raw honey
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbs canola oil, + extra for brushing
Cut all the fat around the bottom of the hens. Wash the hens then pat dry with a paper towel.
Mix the papaya seeds and the yogurt together. Make long parallel cuts on the flesh of the hens using a sharp boning knife, 2 on the breast and 2 on the thighs. Cover the hens inside and out with yogurt and papaya. Plastic wrap the hens and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, rinse the hens and discard all the yogurt. Pat dry.
Clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife. Grate the ginger with a fine mesh microplane. Gather about 1 tablespoon of grated ginger root.
For the five spice: Dry-roast the star anise, the fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves and black peppercorns. Then place all the ingredients in a spice grinder until it becomes a fine powder.
In a bowl, mix the honey, baking powder, 5 spice powder, ginger, soy sauce, minced garlic and peanut oil. Wearing gloves, carefully separate the skin from the flesh without tearing it. Spread all the mixture under the skin, in the cavity and on the outside of the bird. Rub evenly. Plastic wrap the hens and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the birds 15 minutes in advance so the meat is at room temperature. Preheat the oven at 400°F.
Place the oven rack grill in the middle position. Brush the grill with oil using a silicone brush. It will prevent the meat from sticking to the grill. Place the chicken on the grill of the oven, skin side up. (set the marinade aside). Place a baking sheet at the bottom of your oven to collect the dripping from the bird. This is a great place to roast some potatoes! Make sure the halved hens don't touch each other. Count about 15-20 minutes per pound of poultry. I roasted mine for about 45 minutes.
At the end, brush the birds with the remaining marinade using the silicone brush and change the setting of the oven to a low broil for 3 minutes. Then remove chicken from the oven.
Get the birds out of the oven. Cover with foil (don't entirely wrap it, the skin won't be crispy otherwise).
Let the meat rest for a least 10 minutes. Be patient. :)
Thermometer should register 165°F in the thickest part of the bird or the juice should run clear when you crack around the thighs.
Serve with steamed jasmin rice.
My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a very nice flavor and is not too salty. You can this particular suace in downtown San Jose, like at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in San Jose. Well, it's not the prettiest. Don't expect to enter an Asian version of Whole Food, but it has all the fresh Vietnamese produce at a very reasonable price. This is one of the best "ethnic" grocery store in the area.
I would advise you to get a free range hen if at all possible. I've tested this recipe with a "regular" poultry and it didn't turn out nearly as well.
I usually extract seeds from a papaya, grind them in a mini food processor then place them in an ice-cube tray then freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into bags that I vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I keep them exactly the same way I would do with my extra pesto.
This marinated poultry is also great for barbecue during the summer.
You can serve it Asian-style with a little dipping bowl full of lime juice, black peppers, scallions and roasted sesame seeds for garnish.Published By: on February 26, 2009.