How to cook: Inasal na manok (grilled chicken, Bacolod style)

When Speedy asked me once if I knew how to make inasal na manok, I said yes without a second thought. In fact, I was rather surprised because the implication was that inasal na manok is something complicated or that the recipe is a tightly guarded secret. Literally, inasal na manok means roasted chicken, inasal being derived from the Spanish word asar which means “to roast.”

In contemporary Filipino cooking, however, inasal na manok has become synonymous with grilled chicken as it has become popular in Bacolod City, capital of Negros Occidental. While there is no single and definitive recipe for inasal na manok, what seems to set it apart from other grilled chicken dishes is the lack of anything sweet in the marinade. Even the dipping sauce — a mixture of vinegar, shallots, garlic, ginger and chilis — is sour.

This is my version of inasal na manok.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 1.2 kg., cut in halves or quarters

    For the marinade:

    1/4 c. of white vinegar (I used Silver Swan)
    1 whole head of garlic, peeled
    2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
    1 pc. of turmeric (yellow ginger), peeled
    6 stalks of lemongrass (light colored portions of the stalks only)
    2 tbsps. of rock salt
    1/2 tsp. of annatto powder
    A LOT of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel off the fibrous outer layers of the lemongrass (see details). Lightly pound the remaining portions.

    With a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt and lemongrass to a paste. Mix with the ground black pepper and annatto powder. Rub the mixture all over the chicken.

    Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in a container. Pour in the vinegar. Cover the container and allow the chicken to marinate for at least two hours. After an hour, flip them over to ensure even absorption of the flavors. Unless you use more vinegar than is actually needed, it isn’t true that the chicken will turn very sour if allowed to marinate for several hours. I marinated my chicken halves for four hours and they were fantastic.

    The best way to grill the chicken is to make sure that the pieces are as flat as possible so that every part is uniformly heated. I recommend a grill basket like the one you see above. Once closed, the basket forces the chicken to spread out so that nothing is too near or too far from the heat.

    Grill the chicken over live coals, at least six inches from the heat, for about 15 minutes per side. You can use the leftover marinade for basting. I find it unnecessary since the chicken has had enough time to absorb all the flavors. I don’t recommend basting with anything oil-based either (like margarine or cooking oil in which annatto seeds have been allowed to render their color) because oil will just hasten the burning of the skin. I like my grilled chicken cooked through and lightly charred with all the smoky goodness but not burned.

    To test if the chicken is done, pierce the thickest portion of the meat (the thigh is a good place) and if the juices run clear, it’s time to bring the chicken to the dining table.

    Serve your chicken inasal with a dipping sauce made with vinegar, crushed garlic, sliced ginger, chopped shallots and chilis. A salad and sweet ripe mangoes will should complete your meal.

Cooking time (duration): 40 minutes excluding marinating time

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: lunch / supper

*Updated from a recipe originally published on May 4, 2010.

  • http://debbie1219@multiply.com debbie

    i’m just curious though cos i didn’t read in the post what to do with the annatto seeds?

    • Connie

      No seeds. I used annatto powder.

  • riza

    Miss Connie I just want to ask in which part am I going to mix the annatto powder? thank you.

    • Connie

      Oops, sorry, I edited the entry already. :)

      • riza

        Miss Connie I tried it just right now for our dinner. Walah! Superb again! Although I did not grill it in the uling because not possible here in our house in Singapore, so I tried to grilled it in the oven. I will definitely be doing this again… better to use glove next time because of the turmeric, leaves my hand so so yellow. hehehe. shi shine!

  • cocoy

    hi connie… can I use turmeric powder instead? instead of bbq can I broil it?

    more power to you

    • Connie

      Turmeric powder, yes. Broiling… well, you’ll lose the smoky flavor and aroma which really make inasal distinctive.

      • Suzette

        Hi Connie! I wonder how much turmeric powder should I use? Thanks!

        • Connie

          About a teaspoonful. :)

          • Suzette

            Oh my Connie! It really turned out good! I’m a Bacolodnon but doesn’t know how to make chicken inasal probably because we’re so used to just buy it. I mean it’s practically everywhere! As I now live abroad, this is one of my truly missed food. Thanks to you, I’m finally done searching for a chicken inasal recipe! We’ll I’d like to keep your recipe a secret for quite a while, I hope you won’t mind. :) Thanks again and I’m looking forward to try the rest of your recipes!

  • Nikki

    Aloha Connie!

    I don’t have a grill — the closest I have is a George Foreman Grill. Will that work? Do you have any instructions on cooking with that? Hehe and mahalo for your recipe. Can’t wait to try it out! :D

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      I don’t have a George Foreman grill, so I can’t help you there.

      An oven will work though.

  • Nica Balaba

    I tried this at home today for lunch. I didn’t have some of the ingredients like turmeric , lemon grass (i substituted spring onion) and anatto powder ( i used ketchup for coloring) but still it turned out yummy. I put all the ingredients to a boil in low heat instead of marinating them because i didn’t have enough time and broiled it in an oven . I will cook this again and follow what’s exactly in your recipe am sure it is even more delicious. Thanks Coney!

  • nico

    Can you marinade it overnight?

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      The instruction says “allow the chicken to marinate for at least two hours.”

      Obviously, 2 hours is just the minimum.

  • kelvin

    if i marinate the chicken for over night what would be the effect to the chicken?

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Try and find out. :)

  • minda

    Hi, Ms. Connie!

    I wonder where can I buy the “grill basket”

  • Tiffany

    Hi! What is annatto powder? Will I be able to find it in the grocery? Can I substitute achuete seeds for it? thanks!!

  • Connie

    In supermarkets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ShugieWoogie shoogie woogie

    If there’s one hobby I have, its collecting recipes.(if that is even considered one hehe) ever since I was a kid id cut out recipes from magazines and just keep ‘em.With the invention of laptops,u would guess what is mostly saved in my archives! I super love love your website,ive seen couple of other websites from other bloggers but it doesn’t compare to yours. yours is thorough,organized, its much personal because of the stories behind the recipes. Its not bitin, I like it. I just got married and im trying to cook more these days,(only the foods I crave though haha) your website gets two thumbs up from me ..luvv it :)

  • http://debbie1219@multiply.com debbie

    I’m a sucker for chicken bbq and anything char-grilled…I’ve been wanting to try this chicken inasal for all its “glory” what with all the hype of the inasal chicken business here now.. will definitely try this at home.. Thanks a lot!

  • Cris G. Villanueva

    Connie,

    I accidentally discovered your website while killing time on my pc. Clicked “Philippine Cooking” then discovered your recipes. “Inasal na Manok”, in particular, caught my attention since I like native cooking so much. I like the way you explain the process including giving some background, AKA names from different areas/regions, scienfic terms and suggestions why such a way is preferred and “important” to the taste. The pictures that accompany the recipe is fantastic and inviting. Your style of writing, too, is easy to understand and follow. I am SOLD! I will be checking and follow your other recipes in the future. Thanks and may you continue to share us your God-gifted talents/skills.
    p.s. Any chance you have glossary of terms in english and/or vice versa for our native veggies/meats/fishes/condiments,etc? Gutom na ako!!! Salamat uli.

  • Connie

    No, not yet anyway. But that’s a nice idea. When I have more time to research names, I’ll come up with one. Thanks for the idea, Cris. :)

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  • Elaine

    Do you think this will work if I use an electric over with grill?

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  • Connie

    I think so.

  • Lisa

    HI Connie

    Can I bake this instead. My oven’s highest temperature setting is 550.

    Thanks

    Lisa

  • Connie

    You can’t bake this at 550F because the chicken is still raw.

  • rheia

    hey!!! thanks for posting this recipe… i’ve tried it today and it’s nothing short of yummy!!!

  • Connie

    Annatto is achuete.

  • Alma Cerezo

    Hi, Ms. Connie!
    There’s lemongrass planted in vacant lots inside our village, so am excited to try this….Thank you for this recipe :) i have lemon in the fridge, can i use it instead of vinegar?
    Many thanks!

  • Connie

    Sure, you can! :)

  • jinkzz

    I love Bacolod chicken inasal and can eat it every single day. I do actually whenever I go home to the Philippines/ Bacolod. For me, the best chicken inasal are those that are served at Manokan country…yummy… love pechopak ( chicken breast and wing) with sawsawan made up of kalamansi juice, soy sauce, and sinamak (spiced vinegar).