After he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, Dennis Friedman worked at Alan Wong’s restaurant in distant Honolulu. Once a month, all the chefs would split up into teams of two or three and cook for about fifty senior citizens. “This was a way of giving back to the community in the Asian culture,” said Dennis. “Alan was honoring his elders by cooking dinner for them.” Each team had to create a unique dish from Hawaiian ingredients selected by the chef. “Alan used this as a way to see how creative we could be,” Dennis told me. “He challenged us to think.”
As an incentive to his young chefs, Alan turned the monthly meal into a contest. Near Thanksgiving one year, turkey was the theme. One team fried drumsticks; another crafted turkey roulade. Dennis’s team flavored their turkey with cilantro and ginger as well as both hoisin and oyster, two dark, thick sauces with similar flavors. “Adding the two just gives more bite and body to the glaze,” says Dennis. “The oyster sauce has that added flavor derived from shrimp and oyster shells.”
- 2 inches ginger root, peeled and grated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced, plus 5 whole cloves
- ½ cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1 bunch cilantro, stems left whole and leaves chopped, with 1 tablespoon set aside (about 2 cups)
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped, with 1 tablespoon set aside
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 12-15-pound turkey
- 1 lemon, halved
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and put a rack in a roasting pan.
2. Mash and mix the ginger, minced garlic, ¼ cup of the hoisin sauce, the oyster sauce, cilantro leaves, the white part of the scallions, and butter in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Season the turkey both inside and out with salt and pepper.
4. Stuff the cilantro stems and the scallion greens, the 5 cloves of garlic, and the lemon halves into the cavity of the turkey.
5. Spread the ginger paste over the turkey and then rub the top with the remaining 1/4 cup hoisin sauce.
6. Roast the turkey for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook, basting every 20 minutes or so, for another 2 hours, or until the bird reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. If the top gets too dark, cover the turkey with aluminum foil. Let rest before carving. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro and scallions over the bird. Serve with sweet potatoes.