I had a craving for Filipino food and decided to try my hand cooking a dish that many Filipinos love: Chicken Inasal (pronounced “in-uh-sal”). The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7000 islands and it has a rich culinary tradition that combines the best of Spanish, Malay and Chinese cuisines. Each region has its own specialty dish, and Chicken Inasal originates in the Western Visayas region. It is a delicious dish of chicken marinated in vinegar, spices, lime and soy sauce.
I have tried to use native ingredients (for health benefits as well as flavor) as much as possible. I used raw coconut vinegar as it is the vinegar most commonly used in the Philippines (and it has been hailed as a better alternative to apple cider vinegar for its superior health benefits and wealth of minerals). If you can’t get coconut vinegar, you can use normal vinegar. I used normal lime as I didn’t have any kalamansi (Philippine lime) handy. This recipe also uses annatto seeds, an orange-red seed that imparts color and flavor. You can leave this out or use a pinch of paprika for color if you don’t have access to it. Finally, if you have it, use extra virgin coconut oil for depth of flavor and of course, a massive health kick to the meal.
Adapted from a recipe on Pinoy Cooking Recipes.
Prep time: About 20 mins.
Cooking time: About 40 mins.
For the chicken and marinade:
- 8 x chicken drumsticks
- 1/2 cup coconut vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass stalk
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
For the annatto basting oil:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon annatto powder (or annatto seeds crushed in mortar and pestle)
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- Pinch salt
- Pinch pepper
For the dipping sauce:
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
For the flavored rice (optional – you can serve it with normal rice if you want):
- 4 cups cooked rice (cook rice first then cool before using)
- Leftover annatto basting oil or chicken drippings
1. Combine all ingredients for the chicken marinade in a bowl. Massage into chicken and let marinate overnight.
2. Before cooking chicken, prepare basting oil: in a pan on medium heat, sauté coconut oil, garlic and annatto until garlic is soft (about 2 mins.). Strain the oil through a sieve to remove garlic and annatto seed bits. Season oil with salt and pepper. Set oil aside.
3. In a heated non-stick pan, sear chicken on both sides (about 1-2 minutes on each side) and transfer to an oven rack.
4. Baste chicken in annatto oil and cook in a grill oven on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes on each side until cooked through. Baste chicken periodically with annatto oil.
5. To prepare flavored rice, use leftover annatto oil or drippings from the chicken, and stir-fry the rice in the oil/drippings until rice is heated through.
6. To prepare dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir.
7. Serve chicken with rice and dipping sauce. Enjoy!
Madylene Mendiola is a communications professional based in Sydney, Australia. She served as an editor for a publishing company for several years and is currently freelancing and blogging. Her interests include cooking andeating good, nutritious food, spending time with loved ones, traveling (both locally and internationally) and writing. Her blog, The Comfy Nook (www.thecomfynook.blogspot.com.au), is her outlet for sharing recipes, home-keeping and thoughts on life in general.