Thursday 19 July 2012


Chicken inasal is an indigenous barbecue chicken recipe that comes from Bacolod, the sugar capital of the Philippines. It is very simple in itself yet highly aromatic. Though it comes from  the sugarland, it is not sweet like your usual barbecue. 

It was recently reinvented in Manila and served in fast food stalls and restaurants. This is a big no no, according to the natives. Inasal is a street food and has to be eaten in situ: as is and where it was cooked because the street side smells and hubbub forms part of the eating experience. 

The marinade starts with the adobo trinity of garlic, vinegar and ground black pepper then to that is added calamansi (also known as calamondin, a local citrus fruit) and lemon grass for an additional citrusy flavour and fragrance.

Most Filipino inihaw (grilled food) is actually as simple as that. It is the flavour of the meat or the seafood that has to come through. The main flavouring is, of course, the charcoal smoke. For added appeal, annato oil is annointed for color. Annato oil adds a yellowish tinge to the cooked food but doesn't have a distinct flavour. Turmeric or yellow food colouring are suitable substitutes. My version sides with the classic recipe adjusted to my own taste_less vinegary, with a hint of sweetness and light soy sauce for extra umami. 

Inasal, though eaten with rice is a beer partner. I am not a beer drinker so you'll have try that one out for me.


5 medium or 4 large chicken legs (thigh with the drumstick attached)
3 stalks of lemon grass, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic (about 1 1/2 tbsps. chopped)
1 tbsp. coarse sea salt
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1/4 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsps. white wine or cider vinegar
juice of 4 calamansi or rind and juice of 1 lime
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
2 tbsps. annato oil (see recipe below)
2 tbsps. melted butter
2 tbsps. honey


Cut a few shallow slashes on the chicken legs. You can also use 1 whole chicken cut into potions for this recipe.

Pound the lemon grass, garlic and sea salt in a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a dish that's large enough to marinate the chicken in. 

Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the butter and honey, mix then put in the chicken. Coat the chicken with the marinade, pushing the bits into the cuts. 

Leave to aside for one half to an hour. 

Grill on a pre-heated barbecue, on medium heat for 15 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. 

Mix the butter with the honey and glaze the cooked chicken before serving.

Serve with steamed rice and spiced vinegar.

For the spiced vinegar:

1/2 c. cider or white wine vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tsp. salt
4 tsps. sugar

Mix together in bowl and serve as a dip for the chicken. This is standard Filipino dipping sauce for any barbecued food.

For the annato (achuete) oil:

Heat up 1/2 cup of cooking oil. When hot add 2 tbsps. of annato (achuete) seeds. Take off the heat and leave to steep and cool. Strain the seeds off. Use the oil in recipes.

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  1. What a beauty! That's chicken grilled to perfection and I love it. Bookmarked!

  2. This looks fantastic! Love your photos. I will try to make this and will link to it on my blog.
    Jittery Cook

  3. I love chicken inasal! This looks really great Adora. :D

  4. Looks delicious! Will have to try it to give an unusual touch to my chicken!

  5. This is so incredible. It just looks like perfection.

  6. We're BBQing chicken on Monday eve, this recipe is right up my street, thanks.

    I have annato powder (not seeds) I assume that'll work too if strained well?

    1. Hi Debs! I have not used annato powder but I assume that it is used as is like powdered food colouring.

  7. Ang sarap! This is one of my favorites! Bookmarking it so I can make it soon. And sharing it on my FB page. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Adora!

  8. I bet people would go crazy for your recipes on, shoot me a message to get a private invite!



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