Seafood City in Cerritos is my go-to supermarket for the food and supplies I use for the blog. I really look forward to my weekly trips to the store as they have plenty of fresh produce, a wide seafood selection, a huge meat section and of course, the fact that they have a Red Ribbon and Chow King inside the store is a welcomed bonus. This weekend, however, G and I found ourselves in the vicinity of an Asian supermarket in Anaheim and to save us another drive, I decided to do my food shopping there instead. Very disappointing! Their fish choices was very limited and our finned friends looked/smelled like they were just a few minutes away from rotting. Their only saving grace, in my opinion, was that they carry spring chickens which are young hens known for their tender meat and small size. Unlike the humongous chickens I find in most stores, the hen I picked was just about 2 pounds. I split it in two and each half turned into a just right portions of chicken inasal for G and I.
Chicken Inasal is a popular grilled chicken dish from the Western Visayas region. It receives its distinctive flavor and color from a marinade made of vinegar, calamansi, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and atsuete oil. Although I like mine served with plain steamed rice and sweet and sour dipping sauce, this chicken meal is commonly accompanied by annatto-flavored rice and sinamak (spiced palm vinegar).
- 2 stalks lemon grass (tanglad)
- 1 head garlic
- ½ cup palm vinegar
- ¼ cup calamansi juice
- 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 (about 2 to 3 pounds each) whole chicken, split into two
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup annatto (achiote) seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and pounded
- 1 bay leaf
- Peel and/or cut away the dark, fibrous parts of the lemongrass until you get to the white and light green portions. Using a knife, finely chop lemongrass.
- Peel garlic cloves. In a blender, process until pureed. Alternately, you can use a mortar and pestle to mash garlic or grate cloves in a fine grater.
- In a large bowl, combine vinegar, calamansi juice, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk until well-blended. Add chicken and cover bowl. Marinate in the refrigerate for about 1 to 2 hours, turning chicken every 30 minutes.
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine oil, annatto seeds, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for about 5 minutes or until oil begins to bubble. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about 1 hour or until oil is infused with deep orange color. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain oil. Discard aromatics and set aside oil.
- Drain chicken from marinade and wipe down stray aromatics. Lightly grease grill grates and heat over hot coals. Arrange chicken in a single layer over hot grates with skin side up. Grill chicken, turning once or twice and basting regularly with annatto oil, for about 30 to 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted in the thickest part of chicken registers 160 F.
- Remove from heat, cover and allow to rest for about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot with java rice and spiced vinegar.
To prevent overdrying, limit turning of chicken during grilling.