Featured product: Chicken Inasal
Filipinos’ obsession with chicken is glaringly apparent in the many recipes they have come up with to enjoy the meat. Not even a single chicken part goes to waste as those usually discarded (in some cultures, at least) are reserved for grilled bite-sized skewers sold in the streets. Meanwhile, the best parts of the chicken get the creative treatment that varies according to region. It’s not unusual to find yourself in a street lined with restaurants and stalls offering grilled or fried chicken, only set apart by their touted signature recipes, usually with the addition of a secret ingredient.
In Bacolod, it’s the other way around: the absence of one all-pervading ingredient in many regional chicken recipes gave rise to its status that overtook fried chicken. Chicken Inasal (or just Inasal as called by locals) refers to a Visayan recipe of grilling marinated chicken over burning charcoal. Looks can indeed be deceiving in Negrense cuisine. While it looks like any chicken barbecue you have seen, Inasal became a national phenomenon for its peppery and succulent taste. The secret is in a unique marinade mixture that doesn’t involve the savory umami of soy sauce, making Inasal worlds different from the usual chicken barbecue. The marinade is usually made with vinegar, calamansi, annatto, pepper, and other secret ingredients, depending on the Inasal specialty house. During grilling, the meat is rubbed with oil infused with a medley of annatto seeds, garlic, calamansi, and butter. This basting sauce gives the chicken (usually breast, leg, or wing) the signature golden hue and mildly sweet and garlicky taste.