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  • Writer's pictureJust a Tad Salty


Updated: Aug 19, 2020

The very first time I had Chicken Inasal was when I visited Iloilo, many, many years ago. Our host, the Best Man at our wedding, hails from Iloilo and said it's a must to dine at Tatoy's Manokan and Seafood. And so on our last day in Iloilo we had lunch at Tatoy's and boy did I eat!


Achuete Oil

2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced then minced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 thumb-size ginger, peeled, thinly sliced then minced

1 ¼ cups oil (I use rice bran oil)

1/3 cup achuete seeds


Chicken and Marinade

6 pieces bone-in combination chicken thighs and legs, cut a ¼ to ½ inch deep slash on each side of chicken parts (for marinade to easily penetrate into the chicken meat)

3 stalks lemongrass, coarsely chopped

6 cloves of garlic (or more), crushed

1 shallot, chopped

1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and sliced

¾ cup vinegar (I use rice vinegar)

½ cup sparkling water or Sprite/7-Up

1 Tablespoon salt (or more depending on your preference)



Achuete Oil

On medium heat, using a saucepan, combine lemongrass, garlic, ginger, oil and achuete seeds.

Bring to a slow boil, then set heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally for the next 30 minutes or so. You want to achieve a bright, brick-red color oil. Set aside and let cool.

Once cool, using a mesh sieve and a small bowl, separate oil from herbs and achuete seeds. Set aside.


Use a food processor, a manual food processor/chopper, or you can use a knife to finely chop the lemongrass, garlic, shallot, and ginger.

Once finely chopped, add salt and place in a clean plastic bag.

Pour sparkling water or Sprite/7-Up into the plastic bag.

Mix ingredients until well combined and salt is dissolved. May add more salt, depending on your taste preference.

Place chicken pieces into the plastic bag, making sure that chicken pieces are well coated with marinade.

Let chicken marinate for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).


When ready, prepare grill--- charcoal or gasoline, or electric. I use a turbo-roaster.

Baste the chicken pieces with the achuete oil and grill for 30 minutes, or until chicken pieces are thoroughly cooked.

Note: Divide the achuete oil and set aside half or more for later use. DO NOT dip a brush directly into the achuete oil and then use the same onto the uncooked chicken parts. You may waste the achuete oil and not be able to use this for later when needed as it may be contaminated with the uncooked chicken.

Make sure to baste the chicken pieces with the achuete oil frequently, at least every 5 minutes.

Make sure to turn chicken pieces over for basting and grilling. Some prefer a little charring on the chicken when grilling. Your preference.

Before serving, baste the chicken pieces one more time with the achuete oil.

Serve hot with steamed white rice and dipping sauce of calamansi or lemon with soy sauce and Thai chile.

Chicken Inasal
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