Beer-Can Chicken — Southeast Asian-Style

Chicken on the grill has been a favorite of backyard barbecuers for years. But it’s only been the past decade or so that beer-can chicken has become popular.

Here’s a Southeast Asian variation of that favorite from Alex Skaria’s “The  Asian Barbecue Book: From Teriyaki to Tandoori,”  in which coconut water steams the chicken from the inside while the exterior becomes nice and crispy.

The chicken is served with the coconut water as a side dish. This aromatic and slightly sweet chicken dish is best served with stir-fried steamed rice.

Coconut Roast Chicken with Soy Honey Glaze
1 can unsweetened coconut water (not coconut milk) (reserve 3 tablespoons for the marinade)
1 small onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 green onions (scallions)
1 red jalapeno pepper or 2 green jalapeno peppers, deseeded and cut into thin slivers
1 chicken, about 3 to 4 pounds
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons coconut water
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
½ teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of curry powder (optional)
Prepare the chicken support. If you’re using a fresh coconut, follow the steps shown below.
Pour canned coconut water into a chicken sitter or an empty beer can with the top cut off. Add the onion rings, green onions and jalapeno pepper slivers to the sitter or can. Place the marinated chicken over the top of the sitter or can.
To make the marinade, place the soy sauce, honey and sugar in a saucepan and set over medium heat. When the sugar is dissolved add the coconut water, garlic, ginger, black pepper and curry powder, if using, and simmer for a few minutes. Set aside and let cool.
Rub the chicken inside and outside with the marinade and keep in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Prepare the grill for indirect grilling. Place a drip pan in the middle and live coals around the drip pan.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve any leftover marinade. In a saucepan, bring the leftover marinade to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Set aside for basting.
Set the chicken resting on its support (can, coconut or sitter) on the hot grate above the drip pan or, if you’re using a gas grill, over the low heat zone and grill at medium temperature with the hood closed for about 1 to 1½ hours. During the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, regularly baste the chicken with the leftover marinade. Check for doneness by pricking the bird underneath the wings. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. Check for the meat for seasoning and sprinkle on salt if needed.
Yield: Serves 4.