Chinese Holiday Turkey – Recipe

by Jason

Ever since I can remember, our family, nieghbours, strangers and anyone we can unload leftovers on, have always celebrated all holidays, festivities and other reasons to drink with my mom’s signature turkey. I mean, let’s be honest, what’s more festive that slaughtering one of the largest domesticated feathered fowl friends. What makes my mom’s roast turkey so special you ask? My mom’s turkey is Chinese. That’s right, my mom’s turkey gobbles and clucks in Chinese with an accent that’s almost indistinguishable from the American kind with a southern twang.

There are different schools of thought for roasting a turkey, there’s brining, dry rub, smoking, frying, but the time tested method that has been in our family since I can remember has been a wet marinade. History has it that this was the fire-roasting marinade that was used in our family’s roast bbq stand in Chinatown in the early 70s and 80s. Having been declassified, it is with enthusiasm that I share with you this recipe that has garnered my mom’s bragging rights and self ego stroking.

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Marinade (based on a 20 lb turkey)
-5 tbsp dark soy sauce
-3 tbsp light soy sauce
-2 tbsp sesame oil
-2 tbps red label Johnnie Walker – or any other scotch
-1.5 tbps white miso
-1 tbsp hoisin sauce
-4 cloves garlic
-1 cup cilantro
-3 tbps grated ginger
-4 stalks green onion
-1 3 inch piece of dried tangerine peel
-Salt and pepper to taste


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If you’ve got one, break out your bigass Chinese triad gangster meat cleaver and hack, mince and combine all your ingredients. Dried tangerine peel is available in a package at any asian grocery story. Fresh orange zest can be substituted, but the dried peel lends a deeper and more aromatic citrus aroma.

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A word of warning, the smell will be intoxicating.

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While reserving 1/4 of the marinade, in a roasting pan, massage the marinade into the bird making sure to get into the cavity. Cover with plastic wrap and make space in your fridge for this sucker to marinade overnight.

Opposed to the technique of trussing the turkey, my mom stands against it. Roasting breast side up with space between the thighs and body as well as the wings and body will facilitate airflow allowing a more uniformed and shorter cooking time.

turkey-6_zps25af4eeeOnce you’re ready to roast, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and rub the reserved marinade over the bird before it goes in the oven. Cook time will vary depending on your oven but from my mom’s calculations it’s about 1.5 hours per 10 pounds. So on a 20 pound turkey, roughly three hours or until the internal temperature of the breast and thighs reach 160 degrees on your thermometer.

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Once done, remember to let the turkey rest for at least 45 mins to an hour. Once the business is about to go down, say goodbye to the days of dried out flavourless turkey. The meat will be pink – because of the marinade – so don’t be alarmed at the colour of the meat as long as you got a correct temperature reading on your thermometer.

Let me know how it goes, I’d love to see what you think of our family recipe that’s been a secret of years! Tag me in your photos on any of my social media channels, I look forward to seeing them! So for this Thanksgiving weekend, I’d like to thank all of you who read, comment, complain and criticize for all the support! Have a great weekend! And from my mom’s kitchen to yours… “Save the bones and make congee!”

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[…] Without a doubt my mom’s holiday turkey recipe. […]

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