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Lara Lee’s Miso and Gochujang Butter Chicken

Leiths Diploma graduate Lara Lee is an Australian chef and food writer of Chinese-Indonesian heritage. Her first book Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from my Indonesian Kitchen was selected by the New York Times as one of the best cookbooks of 2020. The recipe below is from her latest, A Splash of Soy: Everyday Food from Asia.

About This Dish

Miso and gochujang bring all the sweet-spicy-umami richness you need to this buttery roasted chicken dish, their distinctive flavour profiles contributing an underlying funk to this (in my opinion) perfect marinade. While most marinade recipes call for long marinating times, the beauty of this recipe is that it requires no marinating time at all, owing to the deep intensity of flavour that comes from the gochujang, a crimson, fermented Korean chilli paste that is made from glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt and chilli flakes. Miso adds a salty, tangy, savoury depth.

It’s the leftover pan juices at the end of cooking that I love most. Mixed with a little extra gochujang and honey to serve, the pan juices are a blissful blend of rendered chicken fat and the buttery richness of the spicy-sweet marinade, becoming an irresistible gravy I like to drizzle over the chicken and toss with steamed rice to create a divine gravy rice that is heavenly to eat.

The unmarinated chicken skin begins to crisp up during the first half of cooking, so don’t be tempted to brush the butter on the skin until the halfway point, or the sugars in the honey and gochujang will likely burn. Halfway through, once lacquered with the buttery glaze, the chicken caramelises beautifully. It’s fantastic served with steamed white rice.

Ingredients

Serves 4

60g unsalted butter, softened
80g white miso paste
2 tbsp gochujang paste
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed, or 1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey, plus ½ tsp for the gravy
Fine sea salt, to taste
8 chicken thighs or 4 whole chicken legs, skin on and bone in
2 lemons, cut into wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.

  2. Make the marinade by mixing the softened butter, miso, 1 tablespoon of the gochujang, garlic, chilli flakes, vinegar and 1 tablespoon honey together in a bowl with a pinch of salt.

  3. Line a large baking tray with foil. Place the chicken pieces on the tray skin-side down, then season with salt. Rub half the marinade into the flesh side only (not the skin), ensuring all of the flesh is well covered.

  4. Turn the chicken pieces over, skin-side up, and season generously with salt. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and brush the remaining marinade onto the skin. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15–20 minutes, or until the skin is browned and the chicken is cooked through (if using a thermometer, the thickest part of the chicken will have an internal temperature of at least 75°C). If the skin is starting to char (check it from time to time), cover the chicken with foil until cooked through.

  5. To finish, change the oven setting to grill on the highest heat. Grill the chicken, uncovered, under the grill for 2–3 minutes, or until the skin has browned.

  6. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Pour the pan juices into a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon gochujang and ½ teaspoon honey. Transfer the sauce to a gravy jug.

  7. Drizzle some of the gravy over the chicken, then squeeze with lemon juice and serve with extra lemon wedges and the sauce on the side.

A Splash of Soy: Everyday Food from Asia by Lara Lee published by Bloomsbury (£22 RRP, Hardback). Photography by Louise Hagger. Alexander Breeze prop stylist.