Hoisin Chicken: A delicious, fuss-free dinner

Lilly Higgins: ‘It’s great fun and educational too, making dinner time more exciting’

I’m drawn to fuss-free, delicious food lately and this is the perfect dinner to have during a busy week. I wouldn’t usually use ready made sauces but they’re so convenient and it’s always worth having a few at the back of the cupboard. Read the label to make sure the hoisin you choose isn’t too sugary as it will burn in the oven and taste too sweet. Homemade hoisin is quite easy to make. Traditionally hoisin is made from toasted mashed soy beans and has an addictive salty sweet taste. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, a little brown sugar or honey, crushed garlic, five spice, black pepper and sesame seed oil. It’s always good to make a few sauces like this at the weekend for using during the week. It’s perfect for adding a tablespoon to stir fries, as a dipping sauce or serve on the side with a big bowl of pho.

This Hoisin Chicken is delicious with steamed broccoli, pak choi or green beans. The marinade is also good with pork or used to marinade chicken skewers. I sometimes make a big batch of this sauce and freeze it in ziploc bags with the chicken. Just defrost it in the morning and dinner can be on the table in half an hour that night.

Chicken breasts could be used in place of the chicken thighs here and would need less cooking time. The thighs are so full of flavour and great quality, free range organic thighs are quite cheap compared to chicken breasts. With thighs you can leave the bone in for even more flavour or remove them and use to make stock. For kids I usually remove the bones and slice the thigh up and serve it over the rice.

In a pinch the roasted peanuts could be replaced with crunchy peanut butter or use smooth for a less textured marinade. I’ve served this with rice but noodles would be perfect too.


Jasmine rice is fragrant and light, it smells so floral as it cooks.  Add a bruised piece of lemon grass or a few lime leaves to the cooking water to give it even more flavour. We’re big fans of noodles in our house at the moment, fresh egg, wholewheat and soba. A few weeks ago we tried all the rices I could source from black, wild and red camarague to basmati. It’s great fun and educational too, making dinner time more exciting and each child has their own opinion of how everything tastes. We all chat about where the food is grown, how it’s usually served and who eats it. Expect more Italian dishes soon as we’re going to turn our focus to pasta next.

Hoisin Chicken 

Serves 6

150g roasted peanuts

200ml hoisin sauce

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

6 chicken thighs

400g jasmine rice

400ml boiling water

100g roasted peanuts, to serve

3 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped

2 limes, cut into wedges

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Blitz the roasted peanuts, hoisin sauce and 2 tbsp. water in a food processor till smooth.

Remove any excess skin from the chicken thighs. Cover the chicken with the peanut hoisin sauce. Arrange the chicken in a roasting tray and bake for 30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Meanwhile cook the rice. Bring the water to the boil, add the rice and cover. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes and fluff with a fork. Divide the rice and chicken between six bowls. Scatter with the peanuts, coriander and spring onions. Serve with a wedge of lime.