Chicken Inasal is a popular recipe for Grilled Chicken from the Bacolod, the City of Smiles. It differs from chicken barbecues found elsewhere in the Philippines because of the marinade, forgoing soy sauce and including aromatics only used in the Ilonggo region. The other distinctive feature of Chicken Isasal is the orange color which comes from the basting mixture containing annatto, from the seeds of the achiote tree.
In 2015 I was lucky enough to visit Bacolod with my partner and eat at 21 Restaurant where we had the Chicken Inasal Lollipop, an upscale version of what you can find at the usual roadside inasal eateries. However, you don’t even need to go as far as Bacolod to sample this delicious dish with many restaurant chains in the Philippines specializing in this dish.
Even better you can make this at home, the recipe is simple and the marinating time is short. Just know when you are grilling the chicken over the hot charcoal you can expect clouds of delicious smoke, so best to cook extra in case the neighbours come over!
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 thumb ginger chopped
- 1 stalk tanglad bruised and chopped
- 1/3 cup sinamak (coconut vinegar)
- 2 tbsp calamansi juice
- 1 whole chicken cut into six pieces
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp annatto powder
- black pepper
- In a large ceramic dish combine the sugar, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, vinegar and calamansi juice. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Add the chicken and massage in the marinade. Cover, place in the fridge and marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Do not marinade too long as the vinegar starts breaking down the meat.
- Meanwhile, place the butter in a small saucepan, add the annatto powder and season with salt and pepper.
- Place over a low heat until the butter melts, then strain through a sieve.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and scrape of any excess.
- Cut several slits into the thickest parts of the meat near the bone to help the chicken cook evenly.
- Grill the chicken over hot charcoal for 10 to 15 minutes per side, basting occasionally with the annatto mixture. Make sure the chicken is not too close to the charcoal as you need it to cook through to the bone.
- Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, red chilli and calamansi juice.
Need help with the Filipino ingredients? Check out the glossary.