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Chicken Inasal

Mrs. Evelyn S. BunoanBy Evelyn S. Bunoan

These days, chicken inasal is one of the most popular dishes in the Philippines.  When we were in Manila a couple of months ago, I was so excited to experience the taste of this dish.  One thing I noticed, not all chicken inasal taste the same.  I did my own research and found out that inasal came from the Spanish root word, inasar meaning to roast.  So, basically, the chicken has to be roasted or grilled.

Here is my version of chicken inasal which can be pan-grilled (just to have the grill marks) then roasted in the oven to complete the cooking process.   But, of course, if you have your barbecue grill ready, just grill the chicken until well cooked.  Remember, the chicken has to be cooked at least with internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit.  It should never be cooked rare!

You can also use boneless chicken thighs, which I always prefer to cook for my family.  Additionally, you can make this dish mild or very spicy depending on your personal preference.


12 pieces regular chicken thighs or drumsticks (or 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces)


2 tablespoons tender part of lemon grass (pandan), chopped finely

4 gloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups pineapple juice or lemon lime soda

2 tablespoon soy sauce

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons sesame oil or vegetable oil

4 chili peppers, finely chopped (optional)


Puree the marinade ingredients if you have a food processor; otherwise, use the ingredients as indicated above.  (Before marinating, you can slash the skin of the chicken to help the marinade penetrate the meat.)  Put the chicken in a jumbo Ziploc bag.  Shake the bag until the chicken is covered with the marinade.  Marinate the chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450  Fahrenheit.  Pan-grill the chicken with the skin side down in a hot heavy-gauge skillet or frying pan.  Baste frequently with the marinade and sear the other side.  Then transfer the chicken to a roasting pan and roast them for 10-12 minutes or until cooked.  (To test for doneness, pierce the thickest part of the chicken with a small knife; no juice should ooze out.)

Using a barbecue grill: Put the chicken on the grill rack and cook under hot charcoal or gas fire on lava rocks, about 3-4 inches away from the heat, for 15-20 minutes. Turn and baste each side of the chicken frequently and grill until well done.

Cooking Tips:

The meat of chicken thighs and drumsticks is most fitted for grilling because it stays moist and tender even when cooked with intense heat.

It is advisable to use an oily marinade because this prevents the meat from sticking to the rack.  Cook slowly until the skin is crisp and the inside is well done.  While grilling, brush the chicken all over with the marinade.

Household Tips:

Use separate cutting boards for chicken and the vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.  Make it a habit to wear gloves when handling chicken and when chopping chili peppers so you won’t feel burning on your hands.  Wash your knife, cutting boards and hands after handling chicken; this is most important after cutting hot chili peppers because you might accidentally rub your hands in your eyes.

Editors Note: Master Chef Evelyn: 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the U.S., 2009,  Filipina Womens Network; Owner, Philippine Oriental Market & Deli, Arlington, Virginia; Founder and President of CHEW (Cancer Health  Eat Well), a foundation to help and cook pro-bono for Filipino-Americans who are afflicted with cancer and other serious illnesses; Culinary writer, master baker and cake designer (kitchen-tested and mastered more than 400 recipes, and counting); Member, International Cake Exploration Society, Member, Les Dames dEscoffier International, Washington DC Chapter; Master Chef, French Cuisine and Patisserie, Le Cordon Bleu, London, U.K.; Producer/Host of the cooking show  “Evelyns Kitchen  Cooking with Friends”


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