Soy Ginger Lacquered Cornish Hens

I don’t know if this tumblr illustrates this fact, but I really don’t cook meat. Maybe a couple times a week? I’m always afraid I’ll food poison us and don’t really like touching gooey, wet raw meat. In addition, I often don’t even know where to start! I need to make friends with a butcher and learn about cuts of meat/how to tie and cook meat. Also, John scares me by talking about cross contamination. Damn your OCD! 😛 BUT, I will say, this may be one of the most delicious things I’ve ever cooked. The meat was so juicy, the marinade perfectly balanced, the recipe surprisingly easy. We’ll definitely remake this for a dinner party or a date night.

This recipe is brought to you by Food & Wine magazine and too few people to make a turkey. (Also turkey is usually just dry and boring …)


This recipe is for 10-12 cornish hens. We had 2. Therefore, I cut the recipe by 6. The easiest way to do this, as John taught me, is to switch all your measurements to ounces. For example, the recipe calls for 4 cups (or 32 ounces) of mirin. Cutting the recipe by 6– divide 32 by 6– to get 5.3 ounces. 5 ounces equals 10 tbsp or a little over ½ cup. Repeat for all measurements. Google will give an easy volume conversion if you google how many ounces in a tablespoon or other volume conversions.



  • 4 cups mirin (32 ounces)
  • 2 cups soy sauce (16 ounces)
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • Ten to twelve 1-pound Cornish hens, legs tied together with kitchen twine (I googled this in order to do it right. Best bet= cross the legs, then just tie normally. It took John and I together to do this.)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the Cornish hens. Put the hens in large resealable plastic bags and pour in the marinade. Seal the bags, pressing out the air, and turn to thoroughly coat the hens. Transfer the bags to a small roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight, turning the bags occasionally.
  2. Let the hens stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425° and line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with foil. I just used a throwaway foil pan. Remove the hens from the marinade and transfer them to the baking sheets. Strain the marinade into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Roast the hens in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°. Roast the hens for 50 minutes longer, basting with the reserved marinade every 15 minutes and shifting the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through roasting. With only two hens, we did the first ten minutes then only made it through 30 minutes and two marinades, then the skins started to char a little. We took the temperature and they were ready. The hens are done when the cavity juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thighs registers 160°. Transfer the hens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.





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