Ultimate Pulehu Chicken Recipe: A Taste of Hawaiian Paradise

Pulehu Chicken Recipe

Have you ever tasted a dish so divine that it transports you straight to a Hawaiian beach, with the sun setting over the horizon and the sound of waves crashing nearby? That’s the magic of the Pulehu Chicken Recipe. This Hawaiian-inspired dish, characterized by its savory and smoky flavor, has won hearts worldwide. But what makes it so special? Let’s embark on a culinary journey to uncover the secrets of this Polynesian recipe.

Discover the secrets behind the savory and smoky flavors of the traditional Pulehu Chicken. Dive deep into its history, variations, and the art of perfecting this Hawaiian delicacy.

Ryan yates

The Rich History of Pulehu Chicken

Pulehu Chicken (pronounced pu’-lee-hu) isn’t just another dish; it’s a testament to Hawaii’s rich culinary tapestry. The islands are known for their vibrant culture, and their food is no exception. The Pulehu Chicken recipe stands as a shining example of this.

  • Origins: The roots of Pulehu Chicken can be traced back to ancient Hawaiian times. The islanders, known for their resourcefulness, would often cook their food over an open flame, using the resources available to them.
  • Meaning: The word “Pulehu” is derived from the Hawaiian language, where “Pule” means prayer and “hu” refers to the method of cooking over hot coals. This method of cooking was not just about the food; it was a spiritual experience, often accompanied by chants and prayers.
  • Evolution: Over the years, as Hawaii saw an influx of different cultures, the Pulehu Chicken recipe too evolved, incorporating various flavors and techniques. However, the essence of cooking over hot coals remained intact.

Why Pulehu Chicken Stands Out

Unlike the more commonly known teriyaki chicken, Pulehu chicken boasts a unique blend of flavors. It doesn’t rely on a thick sauce but instead lets the marinade’s ingredients, like soyu, ginger, and lemon, shine through. When grilled, the chicken caramelizes, creating a delightful contrast between its juicy interior and charred exterior.

Why is Pulehu Chicken So Special?

  1. Traditional Cooking Method: The beauty of Pulehu Chicken lies in its simplicity. The traditional method of cooking over hot coals imparts a unique smoky flavor to the chicken, which is hard to replicate.
  2. Versatility: While the basic Pulehu Chicken recipe remains the same, there are countless variations. Some families add their secret blend of spices, while others might marinate the chicken in special sauces.
  3. Cultural Significance: Pulehu Chicken isn’t just a dish; it’s an experience. Whether it’s a family gathering or a grand luau, this dish is sure to be on the menu, bringing people together.

Ingredients: The Heart of the Dish

The beauty of the Pulehu Chicken recipe lies in its simplicity. With just a handful of ingredients, you can recreate this dish in the comfort of your home.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken thighs (preferably boneless and skinless) – 1 lb
  • Your favorite Pulehu salt seasoning (Ono Seasoning recommended) – 1 tablespoon
  • Sesame oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Soy sauce or shoyu – 1 tablespoon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Dried ginger – 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper – ¼ teaspoon

Hard-to-find Ingredient Substitution: If you can’t find Ono Seasoning, a blend of salt, cracked pepper, ginger, and garlic can be a worthy substitute.

Ingredient Substitutions: If you find it challenging to source Ono seasoning, you can blend regular salt with a pinch of cracked pepper, ginger powder, and garlic powder.

What to Shop For

  • Meat Section:
    • Chicken thighs (preferably boneless and skinless) – 1 lb
  • Seasonings & Spices:
    • Pulehu salt seasoning (Ono Seasoning recommended) or a blend of salt, cracked pepper, ginger powder, and garlic powder.
    • Dried ginger
    • Garlic powder
    • Black pepper
  • Oils & Sauces:
    • Sesame oil
    • Soy sauce or shoyu
  • Produce Section:
    • 1 lemon (you’ll need juice from half)

Remember, if you can’t find specific ingredients like Ono Seasoning, the provided substitutions can help you achieve a similar flavor profile for your Pulehu Chicken. Happy cooking!

How to Make The Perfect Pulehu Chicken Recipe

To make the perfect Pulehu Chicken, marinate boneless chicken thighs in a blend of soy sauce, ginger, lemon, and Ono seasoning, then grill until charred and juicy. For a detailed step-by-step guide, see the recipe below.

Pulehu Chicken Recipe

Pulehu Chicken: A Hawaiian Delight

Ryan Yates
The Pulehu Chicken recipe is a Hawaiian culinary delight, emphasizing the flavors of soy sauce, ginger, and lemon on boneless chicken thighs. Grilled to perfection, this dish offers a tantalizing contrast between its juicy interior and charred exterior.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 37 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 4 Servings


  • Chicken thighs preferably boneless and skinless – 1 lb
  • Pulehu salt seasoning Ono Seasoning recommended – 1 tablespoon
  • Substitution: If you can’t find Ono Seasoning mix regular salt with a pinch of cracked pepper, ginger powder, and garlic powder.
  • Sesame oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Soy sauce or shoyu – 1 tablespoon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Dried ginger – 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper – ¼ teaspoon



  • Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs.
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels to ensure the marinade adheres well.


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken thighs, Pulehu salt seasoning (or substitute), soy sauce or shoyu, dried ginger, garlic powder, and black pepper.
  • Ensure the chicken is well-coated with the marinade.
  • Cover the bowl and let the chicken marinate for at least 20 minutes. For optimal flavor, marinate overnight in the refrigerator.


  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  • Once the grill is hot, place the marinated chicken pieces on the grill.
  • Grill each side of the chicken thighs for about 5-6 minutes or until they have a nice char and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Finishing Touches:

  • After removing the chicken from the grill, drizzle it with sesame oil.
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the chicken for a refreshing twist.


If you can’t find Ono Seasoning, a blend of salt, cracked pepper, ginger, and garlic can be a worthy substitute.
Pair the Pulehu Chicken with steamed rice or a fresh salad for a complete meal.
Enjoy your homemade Pulehu Chicken, a true taste of Hawaii!
Keyword Boneless Chicken Thighs, Charred Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Hawaiian Cuisine, Island Flavors, Lemon-Ginger Marinade, Marinade, Ono Seasoning, Pulehu Chicken, Soy Sauce, Traditional Hawaiian Dish

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories: 252kcal
  • Protein: 19g
  • Fat: 19g
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Sodium: 88mg
  • Potassium: 246mg

Pairing Your Pulehu Chicken

Pulehu Chicken is not just a dish; it’s an experience. And like any great culinary experience, it’s enhanced when paired with the right accompaniments. Let’s explore the best side dishes to elevate your Pulehu Chicken recipe.

Traditional Hawaiian Sides

Pulehu Chicken finds its roots in Hawaiian culture, and what better way to honor that than by pairing it with traditional Hawaiian sides?

  • White or Brown Rice: A staple in Hawaiian cuisine, rice acts as the perfect base, soaking up the rich flavors of the Pulehu Chicken.
  • Ume: This pickled plum brings a tangy contrast to the savory chicken, adding a burst of flavor with each bite.
  • Kim Chee: The spicy and fermented notes of kim chee complement the smoky flavor of the chicken, creating a harmonious blend of tastes.
  • Creamy Potato Salad: A rich and creamy potato salad can balance out the charred flavors of the chicken, making for a delightful combination.

Adventurous Pairings

For those looking to experiment and add a twist to their Pulehu Chicken recipe, here are some unconventional yet delicious pairings:

  • Tangy Macaroni Salad: The creaminess of the macaroni salad, combined with its tangy dressing, can be a refreshing side to the grilled chicken.
  • Fresh Pineapple Slaw: Imagine the tropical flavors of pineapple mingling with the smokiness of the Pulehu Chicken. This slaw is not just vibrant in taste but also adds a splash of color to your plate.

Beverage Pairings

To wash down your meal, consider these drink options:

  • Hawaiian Punch: A fruity beverage that can cleanse the palate and enhance the overall dining experience.
  • Coconut Water: Stay refreshed with a glass of chilled coconut water, a perfect match for the Pulehu Chicken recipe.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re sticking to traditional Hawaiian sides or venturing out with adventurous pairings, the key is to complement the rich flavors of the Pulehu Chicken. With the right combinations, you can transport your guests to the sandy beaches of Hawaii, making your meal an unforgettable experience.

Pulehu Chicken vs. The World of Grilled Chicken

Pulehu Chicken stands tall among the myriad of chicken dishes available worldwide. But what makes it so special? Let’s delve into the nuances that set the Pulehu Chicken recipe apart from other popular chicken dishes.

The Marinade Magic

  • Simplicity at its Best: Unlike the thick, sweet sauce of teriyaki chicken, Pulehu Chicken relies on a more straightforward marinade. The ingredients, such as soy sauce, ginger, and lemon, are allowed to shine, giving the chicken its unique taste.
  • Depth of Flavor: The marinade penetrates deep into the chicken, ensuring every bite is packed with flavor. This depth is something not often found in other grilled chicken dishes.

The Grilling Technique

  • Hot Coal Cooking: The term “Pulehu” translates to “cooking over hot coal.” This method imparts a smoky flavor to the chicken, which is hard to replicate in other dishes.
  • Perfect Caramelization: Grilling the marinated chicken over hot coals ensures a delightful caramelization on the outside, while the inside remains juicy and tender.

A Flavor Profile Like No Other

  • Sweet vs. Savory: While dishes like teriyaki chicken lean towards the sweeter side, Pulehu Chicken offers a balanced flavor profile, with the savory notes of the marinade complemented by the smokiness from the grill.
  • Versatility: The Pulehu Chicken recipe can be tweaked to personal preference. Some might add a hint of spice, while others might opt for a tangier version with more lemon.

While many chicken dishes have their own charm, the Pulehu Chicken recipe is in a league of its own. Its unique marinade, combined with the traditional method of grilling over hot coals, offers a culinary experience that’s hard to match. If you’re looking to try something different from the usual grilled chicken, Pulehu Chicken is the way to go.

FAQs About Pulehu Chicken Recipe

What does “Pulehu” mean?

In Hawaiian, “Pulehu” translates to “cook over hot coal.” It’s a cooking method that gives the chicken its distinct charred flavor.

Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

Absolutely! While thighs are juicier, chicken breasts can be used. Ensure they’re pounded to even thickness for consistent grilling.

How long should I marinate the chicken?

While 20 minutes is the minimum, marinating overnight allows the flavors to penetrate deeper, resulting in a more flavorful dish.

What’s the difference between Pulehu and teriyaki chicken?

While both are grilled, Pulehu chicken relies on its marinade’s natural flavors, whereas teriyaki chicken is often glazed with a sweet and sticky sauce.

Can I cook Pulehu chicken in an oven?

Yes, though grilling is traditional, you can bake the chicken at 375°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

How do I store leftovers?

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze grilled chicken for up to 3 months. nmji8

What sides go well with Pulehu Chicken?

Traditional sides include rice, ume, kim chee, or potato salad.

Can I use fresh ginger instead of dried?

Absolutely! Fresh ginger will give a more robust flavor.

Is Pulehu Chicken spicy?

No, it’s more savory and smoky. However, you can add some chili flakes or hot sauce for a kick.

This article was reviewed and published by Ryan Yates, Culinary Expert with over 15 years of experience in elevated cooking techniques. This process was tested in a working commercial kitchen that Ryan manages as a Professional Chef.

Note: This article was crafted with the primary intent of educating and assisting our readers. We ensure that our content is backed by research and expertise. For more culinary insights, stay tuned to the Authentic Hospitality blog.

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