Erik Matti Hacks the Chicken House Chicken Inasal

This award-winning director says DIY chicken inasal is simple.

My grade school canteen was right next to the first branch of Chicken House in Bacolod. When class ended at 4 p.m., I’d go to the firewall dividing the canteen and Chicken House and just shout out “Duwa ka li-og kag is aka garlic rice!” (Two necks and a garlic rice). And they’d serve it to me over the wall. That, and an ice-cold RC Cola, would be my early dinner.

All these years I’ve been trying to get my friend Vito of Chicken House to tell me the secret to their recipe. Of course, he hasn’t given it up. So this recipe is the closest I’ve tried to replicating its taste. It’s pretty close, and I’m definitely sure that all the ingredients are the same. No sugar, no soy sauce.


  • 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1 medium ginger sliced into rings
  • 5 to 10 calamansi
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 4 to 6 stalks of lemongrass bruised or cut
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or any cooking oil
  • Salt or patis (I prefer this) to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk (optional)


  • Put all the cut chicken pieces in a bowl. Squeeze in the calamansi and pour the vinegar. Smash the garlic bulb and put it in together with the ginger. Add the black pepper.
  • On low heat, heat up the cooking oil and add in the annatto seeds. Stir continuously until the color changes. Separate the seeds and add 1/4 of the annatto oil mixture to the bowl.
  • Add milk to make skin crispy. Add salt or patis to taste. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours only (more than that, the vinegar will cook the chicken meat and it will get flaky when cooked).
  • Prepare a charcoal grill. Make sure the griller is not too close to the charcoal (about 4 inches away) or it will burn the skin faster than the insides will get cooked. Grill the chicken, basting it once in a while with the remaining annatto oil mixture.

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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