Sweet Soy Japanese Roast Chicken

There is nothing more comforting and satisfying than succulent roasted chicken! This recipe concentrates on sweet and fragrant Japanese flavors. The chicken is marinated in soy sauce, mirin, garlic, palm sugar, and ginger and then roasted until the skin develops a candied, crackled, dark hue. The marinade is then reduced down to a rich sauce and glaze that is so delicious on the chicken; you won't be able to stop eating it! The whole dish is finished with a fresh squeeze of lime to brighten and add an acidic pop. This chicken pairs wonderfully with any side or vegetable. It's also excellent to have leftovers for chicken salads or sandwiches.
overhead shot of a roasted chicken

Spatchcocking the Chicken: 

  • Place your chicken on a large stable cutting board and remove any parts inside the cavity such as neck and gizzards. (Save these in your freezer for making stock).
  • Trim off both wings and prop the chicken up on its hind legs. 
  • With a paring knife, cut two slits on the collars bone and feel with your fingers for the wishbone and pull it out. 
  • Lay the chicken on its back. With poultry shears, cut on the right side of the chicken from the tailbone to the neck. Repeat this same process on the right side of the backbone and remove it. (Save along with the gizzards in your freezer for stock.)
  • Press the chicken down on both sides (you will have to break open the breastbone) to lay it flat on the cutting board. 
  • You can leave the chicken at this point and continue with the marinade and roasting process. Or, you can go one step further and use a paring knife to trace around the breast bones and cartilage from the flesh and remove these bones all together as I have done in my picture above. The results will be the same, but the chicken that has more bones removed will cook faster.

Ingredients Are Below

Chicken: I like to try and buy the most organic, pasture-raised chicken I can find. The quality and taste are so much better, and you can feel safer about eating a cleaner and healthier bird. 

Garlic and Ginger: This combination adds the perfect amount of aromatics that will permeate the chicken to provide fantastic flavor and subtle heat. 

Scallions: I love using green onion for its color and delicacy. They add a nice sweet flavor to the chicken when roasted. 

Soy Sauce: I always use low-sodium soy sauce to be healthier. However, any soy sauce will work for this recipe. Tamari is also fantastic! 

Mirin: This is fermented Japanese rice wine. It’s similar to sake but has a lower alcohol content and is much sweeter. It adds great depth of flavor and should be a staple in your pantry. 

Sesame Oil: Always buy a toasted sesame oil with a dark brown color for a richer, nuttier flavor. 

Palm Sugar: I like to use coconut palm sugar as my sweetening agent. This sugar has both a low glycemic index and low fructose levels. It contains antioxidants, minerals, is unrefined, and contains no chemical breakdown alterations or artificial ingredients. It is pure and simple! 

Coconut Oil: I use coconut oil to sear the chicken because it has a high smoking point and adds additional sweetness to the chicken. I like to buy unrefined coconut oil that is less processed. 

a whole raw chicken, green onions, spices and sauces ready to cook
raw chicken spatchcoked
garlic, ginger and sliced green onions on a wooden chopping board
raw chicken, soy sauce, green onions and ginger in a glass roasting tray

Searing in a Cast Iron Skillet: 

I love using cast iron to sear my meats. This wrought iron is a fantastic conductor of heat and always gives my protein a beautifully caramelized crust. The key to perfectly searing your chicken in the cast iron is NOT to TOUCH IT! The chicken’s skin-side is placed down into the smoking hot cast iron coated with coconut oil. If you move the chicken around or flip it, you will be disengaging it from the heat source. By doing this, you do not allow the heat to properly penetrate the chicken through the heated cast iron to get a beautiful dark brown skin. Once this color on this skin is achieved, turn off the heat and place it in the oven. I NEVER EVEN FLIP MY CHICKEN. By leaving it skin-side down in the pan, I can check on it periodically and see if the flesh is cooked through. IT’S THAT EASY! 

a chopping board with sliced roasted soy chicken and ingredients surrounding

Reducing the Marinade: This is a wonderful way to utilize the marinade for two purposed. 1) to impart flavor into the chicken when raw. 2) To become reduced to a glaze or sauce for the chicken. This step is quick is and is impossible to mess up. Place the marinade into a small saucepan and cook uncovered over high heat for 5-7 minutes until the mixture has reduced by half and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. 

overhead shot of roasted sweet soy Japanese chicken sliced
roast soy chicken sliced
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overhead shot of a roasted chicken

Sweet Soy Japanese Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods, and this Japanese version will truly top your list! The chicken is spatchcocked, marinaded in a sweet soy sauce, and then roasted until the skin is crispy and a dark hue, and the flesh is moist and succulent. The marinaded is reduced while the chicken is roasting and becomes the most fantastic sauce/ glaze. It’s the perfect dish to make for a dinner party or gathering, as it’s a definite crowd pleaser! Believe me, once served, your guests won’t be able to stop eating. It’s that addicting! Pair it with any vegetable, grain, and starch, and you have the perfect meal.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Chicken and Poultry, Dinner
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people
Calories 620 kcal

Ingredients
  

Chicken

  • 1 3-5 pound whole chicken, spatchcocked (ask your butcher, or remove the backbone and split open breast bones, so chicken lies flat. Refer to the "How To" above)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6 scallions, minced
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 4 tbs palm sugar
  • Coconut oil for coating pan

Instructions
 

Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the spatchcocked chicken in a 9X13 baking dish and add the garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and palm sugar and mix to coat thoroughly.
  • Marinade the chicken for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  • Take the chicken out of the marinade and dry on paper towels. Reserve the marinade. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a cast-iron skillet over moderate heat and coat with coconut oil, about two tablespoons.
  • Allow for the oil to glisten and becomes shiny and place the chicken into the pan, skin-side down.
  • Let the chicken cook for 3-5 minutes DO NOT TOUCH IT until you achieve a dark almost black crust on the chicken skin.
  • Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes, until the flesh is fully cooked through and the juices run clear. Take the chicken out and allow it to rest for 7-10 minutes before slicing.
  • While the chicken is roasting, place the marinade in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes until the marinade has reduced by half and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Serve the sauce with the roasted chicken.

Nutrition

Calories: 620kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 39gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 1894mgPotassium: 487mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 446IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Japanese chicken recipe, soy chicken, soy chicken recipe
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Sarah blair

Adding a generous dose of enthusiasm, excitement, and creativity to the culinary world, Sarah began her career at the French Culinary Institute in NYC. Sarah has worked for the past decade as a Culinary Producer and Food Stylist.

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