We discovered this absolutely great marinade for grilled chicken recently and I wanted to share because it’s a good one for all those summer BBQs coming around the corner, and really for any time of the year if you turn to your broiler instead. The marinade combines some familiar flavors in a really tasty way: soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, paprika and cumin. It’s actually a pretty interesting cultural and culinary story when you think of it…. the fusion food legacy that came directly out of a Southern Chinese immigration to Peru (mainly Lima) in the early 20th century. I’ve heard from homesick friends from India about their beloved Indian-Chinese food, but Peruvian-Chinese food is a new one for me and a topic I can’t wait to continue to explore.
Our Peruvian-Chinese a-ha moment came as a result of a little side trip to Mi Pueblo Mexican supermarket in San Rafael with the kids over spring break where we purchased among other things a small bottle of Peruvian soy sauce, a bag of Oxacan cheese, some fresh tortillas and some new hot sauces to add to our ever growing collection. I’ll admit my total nerdiness when it comes to ethnic markets. Wandering aisles where the ingredients are unfamiliar is one of my favorite pastimes of all time and the small Peruvian section of this store particularly caught my attention. Thank goodness my boys are reasonably patient when I drag them along on these shopping tangents, and in this case they were happy to watch a lady up front making pupusas, peruse the awesome selection of pinatas and religious candles, and munch on a taco on the way out. [BTW when we got home we did a little tasting and weren’t able to discern much of a difference between the soy sauce we usually use and the Peruvian variety].
But back to this marinade. It’s a really good one and I highly recommend giving it a try. I happened to have some Argentinian chimichurri sauce in the refrigerator (my new favorite “eat-it-on-everything” condiment) but next time we’ll try the classic Peruvian green sauce equivalent called ají.
Marinade for Peruvian Grilled Chicken / Pollo A La Brasa
(adapted from Epicurious; makes enough to marinate one whole chicken or the equivalent amount of chicken pieces)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- juice from 2 limes
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground cumin is worth the effort here)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Toast and grind the cumin seeds (optional): Toast whole cumin seeds in a dry pan over medium-high heat. After about 1 minute, you’ll start to smell a fragrant aroma and the seeds will darken slightly. Remove the seeds immediately from the hot pan to prevent them from burning and grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. I usually make a 1/4 cup at a time and store in an airtight container. Freshly toasted and ground cumin is best used within a few weeks. If you have more than you can use, share with a friend 🙂
- Combine marinade ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Reserve a few tablespoons of marinade for brushing on the chicken as it cooks and use the rest of the marinade to marinate chicken pieces for at least one hour, or preferably one day.
- Grill or broil marinated chicken according to your favorite method (brushing occasionally with reserved marinade) and serve with lime wedges.
** you can double or triple this recipe and freeze extra marinade in 1/3 cup portions **