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Episode 5: On this installment of “Chef Artois,” the contestants play with fire at Momofuku Kōjin

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Episode 5: On this installment of “Chef Artois,” the contestants play with fire at Momofuku Kōjin

On this episode of “Chef Artois,” we’re heading to Momofuku Kōjin. Since opening in 2018, this David Chang endeavor (located two floors above Momofuku Noodle Bar) has received rave reviews for its live-fire cooking and flawless service. Recently, Chef Eva Chin has taken over the kitchen. 

Kōjin’s newly revamped menu showcases Chef Chin’s Hawaiian connection. Growing up on Oahu, Chef Chin learned to cook in earth ovens with volcanic rocks. One of the ways Chef Chin’s aloha ʻāina (or “love of the land”) comes across in her cooking is through her use of fire. Much of the menu—including the ember-roasted chili butter and charcoal-finished short ribs—is cooked over a crackling wood grill.

In keeping with the Kōjin theme—the restaurant takes its name from the Japanese god of the hearth—we’ll be asking our two “Chef Artois” contenders to play with fire. Tonight, Chef Chin joins host Pay Chen to welcome contestants Amanda Mendonca and Raluca Urlea. Their task: impress Kōjin’s new chef de cuisine with a perfect plate of huli huli chicken: a fire-roasted, soy-braised bird cooked over a charcoal grill.

Huli huli chicken, a popular Hawaiian dish flavoured with a teriyaki-like sauce, gets its name from how it’s cooked.  Huli is the Hawaiian word for “turn,” and since the chicken is cooked over an open flame, it needs to be turned frequently, or the bird will dry out and burn. At Kōjin, the bird is first braised in a pineapple-soy mixture before it’s grilled over charcoal and then finished with the smoke from burning banana leaves, corn husks and oak wood. 

With 60 minutes on the clock, it’s time for these two home cooks to flex their pyrotechnic skills. Unfortunately, someone’s going to get burned because there can only be one winner. Click the play button below to find out who will earn the claim to flame of being named the next Chef Artois. 

“Chef Artois” is a new limited series that’s inviting diners back inside Toronto’s top restaurants. On this bite-sized cooking show—episodes are a satisfying 12 minutes long—the city’s chefs aren’t doing the cooking. Instead, diners are donning aprons and letting chefs judge their culinary chops.

Episode 5: On this installment of “Chef Artois,” the contestants play with fire at Momofuku Kōjin

The series was created in support of Rally for Restaurants, an initiative founded by Stella Artois to help support the restaurant industry as it rebuilds in the wake of the pandemic. In each weekly episode, two Torontonians will step inside the kitchen of a Toronto restaurant to compete for the title of Chef Artois and win a $1,000 prize pack.

How to make Kojin’s huli huli chicken 

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Makes four half birds

Ingredients 

  • 2 whole chickens
  • 6 heads of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 300 grams ginger, cut up
  • 1 small red or Spanish onion   
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • 2 litres shoyu (Japanese-style soy sauce)
  • 700 grams passion fruit or pineapple puree   
  • 200 grams brown sugar   
  • 1 bunch coriander, roots only 
  • 80 grams mirin   
  • 180 grams kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 100 grams fish sauce 

The recipe

  1. Cut chickens apart using poultry shears and separate the back of the chicken by cutting out the spine. Now separate the chicken breast away from the rib cage while keeping the half carcass intact. You can also ask your butcher to do this, but remember to ask them to bag up the extra bones and fat as you’ll need them for the next step.
  2. Once the half chickens are ready, place the braising pan over high heat and start rendering the chicken trims, which includes the rib cage, the spine, and any fatty parts you’ve chosen to cut off. 
  3. After about eight minutes, the chicken trims should be nicely browned signalling that it’s time to start roasting the garlic, ginger and onions together in the braising pan (with the sizzling chicken bits). 
  4. Once everything is caramelized, add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. 
  5. Gently drop the half chickens into the simmering marinade, laying them flat in the pan. Chef Chin recommends placing a round parchment paper on the surface of the braising chicken to keep it submerged. Leave the birds to cook in a simmering bath (set to around 170°C) for two and a half hours. 
  6. Once chicken is braised (it should feel tender and juicy), let it cool on a tray that is lined with a wire rack. 
  7. Place 400 millilitres of the marinade into a new sauce pot and reduce into a glaze. “You want a shiny, thick, glossy soy glaze towards the end,” says Chin.
  8.  Preheat the oven to 385°F. Glaze the chicken on the wire rack and bake for 8 for 10 minutes. Continue to glaze the chicken once it comes out of the oven until the chicken is shiny and well roasted.

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