Asian Marinade (revisited)

Asian marinade for chicken

Welcome back for another revamped blog post from the past! This one is from 2018. I’d like you to meet what is usually my most pinned graphic on Pinterest. It kind of boggles my mind because this is so basic and easy, but, then again, I grew up with it.

First published January 5, 2018

Actually, I don’t really know what to call this. I don’t even know where my mom got it from. Maybe she made it up. I should ask one day. Nope, still haven’t.

Being Chinese, and the daughter of a man who was born in China and raised in Hong Kong (so he really prefers Chinese food), we ate a lot of Chinese food. While my mom alternated between chicken, pork, and beef, the marinade she used didn’t vary much.

I call it Asian Marinade here, but, in the recipe book my mom started for me, it’s under the recipe called Chicken and Tortillas (a favorite in my childhood home). I still try to get away with it because it’s super easy, but my husband prefers rice to tortillas. I prefer tortillas because our 3 year old isn’t as messy with a tortilla as she is with rice.

This recipe calls for chicken, but my mom also uses beef and pork; soy sauce, low sodium or regular both work fine; ground ginger, though you can use freshly grated ginger (hahaha, my husband learned the hard way just how hard it is to peel garlic); garlic powder or fresh, minced; black pepper; and sugar or honey. I honestly don’t measure anything; just dump it all in a bowl and hope for the best. It tastes a little different every time.


Oh my gosh! We don’t even live there anymore. I mostly don’t miss it. That kitchen was small!

Mix together the soy sauce, ground ginger, garlic powder, pepper, and sugar. A little goes a long way! The recipe my mom wrote down (honestly, she doesn’t measure, either) calls for 2 tablespoons of soy sauce for 2 chicken breasts, but, as you can see, I added more. I just pour it in until I think, “eh, that’s enough.” Yup, still the best way to do it.


Add the chicken. I usually do chunks about a half inch by half inch, but, as you’ll better see later, these are thin strips.


Mix it all together and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. The marinated chicken will look darker and darker the longer it sits. But remember these are small pieces, and a little marinade goes a long way.


Ideally, I would use a wok. I don’t have a wok. A wok is a rounded cooking dish that can get very hot since the bottom is usually rounded and the sides are high. Since I don’t have one (yet), I just use a frying pan and get it super hot. Everything should really sizzle loudly when you pour everything in. Yes, chicken and marinade. The marinade will disappear by the end of cooking. I still need a wok…


It does lose it’s sizzle once everything is in, but, as the marinade cooks away, it comes back. Be sure to start lowering the heat, otherwise the chicken will get really dark and the marinade will burn as it is cooked away. What’s left of the marinade should be used to coat the chicken for a nice, dark, caramelized look. Makes it even tastier, too.


This is great with rice, but I prefer it wrapped in soft tortillas. You can add cheese and vegetables or eat it plain. It’s also great with fried noodles that my mom makes. Just get some yellow chow mein noodles or thin spaghetti, cook it, add oil to a large pan until it coats the bottom and then some, get it extremely hot, add the noodles, flip the whole thing when the bottom is a golden brown, and cook until the other side is golden brown. Holy cow, did I really write that mouthful?

As you can tell, this is quite versatile. Thanks, Mom!


Per 2 chicken breasts:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  1. Mix all ingredients.

There you have it: the marinade.

Chicken and Tortillas:

  1. Add 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces, to the marinade.
  2. Let sit about 15 minutes.
  3. Heat frying pan or wok.
  4. When pan is hot, pour in chicken and marinade and cool until chicken is cooked through and marinade has complete reduced.
  5. Wrap in warm tortillas with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

9 thoughts

  1. I make a similar marinade for salmon (found it in an 1980’s cookbook that I got from a thrift store), but it never occurred to me to try it with different meats. That sounds absolutely delicious!

    1. It is really delicious. My mom uses it for just about every protein, so, even though I now only use it for chicken, I love how well it goes with everything and is just so simple.

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