Asian-Style Brined Chicken Hindquarters with Sesame-Cilantro Pesto

Brining the chicken before grilling ensures that it's juicy and tender. A sesame-cilantro pesto, with ginger, mint, and crushed red pepper, is the perfect topping for this Asian-style main dish.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs 55 mins
Total Time:
9 hrs 20 mins
8 servings


Asian-Style Brined Chicken

  • 1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 cup honey

  • ¼ cup curry powder

  • ¼ cup minced fresh ginger

  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander

  • 3 tablespoons chili-garlic paste or 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 tablespoon dried orange peel or 2 tablespoons finely shredded orange peel

  • 8 whole chicken legs (drumstick and thigh), skin removed

  • Nonstick cooking spray

Sesame-Cilantro Pesto

  • 2 green onions, cut up

  • ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

  • 1 ½ cups snipped fresh cilantro

  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 ½ teaspoons canola oil

  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil


  1. For brine, in a large stock pot (big enough to hold the chicken) bring 2 cups water to boiling. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce, honey, curry powder, ginger, coriander, chili-garlic paste, and orange peel. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cups ice-cold water.

  2. Submerge chicken in the brine. If necessary, weigh down the chicken by placing a small plate on top. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 8 to 24 hours. Remove chicken from brine; discard brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling.

  3. Coat unheated grill rack with cooking spray. For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above the pan. Place the chicken on the grill rack over the drip pan, overlapping pieces as necessary. Cover and grill 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg registers 180 degrees F, turning and rearranging pieces once halfway through grilling time. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust heat for indirect cooking. Place chicken on oiled grill rack over the burner that is turned off, overlapping pieces as necessary. Grill as above.)

  4. Meanwhile, prepare Sesame-Cilantro Pesto: In a food processor combine green onions, peanuts, ginger; and garlic. Cover and pulse with several on/off turns until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add cilantro and mint leaves; pulse until finely chopped. Add water, canola oil, fish sauce, and crushed red pepper; puree until nearly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in toasted sesame oil.

  5. Serve chicken with the Sesame-Cilantro Pesto.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

319 Calories
14g Fat
7g Carbs
40g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Serving Size 1 whole chicken leg and 1 tablespoon pesto
Calories 319
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 40g 80%
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 184mg 61%
Vitamin A 537IU 11%
Vitamin C 3mg 3%
Folate 31mcg 8%
Sodium 336mg 15%
Calcium 44mg 3%
Iron 3mg 14%
Magnesium 50mg 12%
Potassium 489mg 10%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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