Watch my cooking video “Chicken Barbecue, Filipino-style”
Nothing else connects me as much to my childhood memories like the scent and aroma of Chicken Barbecue, Filipino-style. I’m making these for the Labor Day holiday weekend for us at home. This is an easy, no-fuss meal, but certainly a favorite and a big hit whenever I serve these to friends.
I can still picture the way these chicken pieces were char-grilled in our backyard back home in Tarlac. As a child, I was ordered to stay farther away from the hot coals, the fiery embers spewing brightly lit orange flames as the chicken marinade trickled down on it. If I close my eyes in reverie, I can still sniff the aroma of the barbecue – sweet, salty and slightly peppery all at once. I drooled in anticipation of the tender, succulent pieces skewered on the bamboo sticks.
Back then, we didn’t have the sophisticated, ultra-modern large outdoor grills like there are here in America. In my childhood home, I remember a large iron rack firmly situated atop several pieces of grey-colored hollow blocks on a cemented surface in the back of our kitchen. The dark coals were placed under the rack and lit in advance before the meat pieces were grilled.
Today in my American home, we have a basic outdoor gas grill that we turn on during the summer months from late May to early September. Once the chilly autumn and harsh winter days set in as they often do on the east coast, we clean up the grill and keep it covered and shut for the season till the following year.
So, it is no wonder we look forward to the long summer days when I can toss everything on the grill for our meals just like these marinated chicken pieces.
Labor Day weekend marks the official ending of summer here in America. A sign that the seasonal weather is about to shift soon. The air will get chilly, the leaves turn to different hues and it becomes fall.
When seasons change, I often ask myself if I finished work I had to do and fulfilled goals I set for myself earlier in the year. This time, I am happy to say, “yes, I did.” In a few weeks, I’ll be announcing work I’ve done and completed. I have finished writing something which I know will be helpful to many of you, my dear readers and friends. Stay tuned.
Seasons are like invisible goal posts for us in life. They are nature’s stop watch to remind us how much time has gone by. Did we waste time? Did we finish what we started? Are we on track with our promises to ourselves?
If there’s anything I learned about life, when you get the chance to do something, go for it. Don’t waste the time. Don’t waste the season.
Chicken Barbecue, Filipino-style
- Outdoor grill: Charcoal or Gas
- 4 pounds chicken thighs, boneless
- 1/2 cup thick soy sauce
- 1/2 cup banana ketchup or use tomato catsup
- 1/8 cup chili sauce
- 1/4 cup calamansi juice or lemon juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 can (8 oz.) ginger ale
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- 8 to 10 pieces bamboo skewers pre-soak for 20 minutes
- garlic fried rice for serving
- achara (green papaya pickle relish) for serving
- Prepare the marinade: in a medium sized bowl mix the soy sauce, banana ketchup, chili sauce, calamansi juice, ginger ale, garlic, sesame oil, salt, black pepper. Blend ingredients well. Pour over the boneless chicken thighs. Pierce some parts of the chicken with a fork for the marinade to absorb. Keep the marinated chicken pieces in a Ziploc resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate marinated pieces at least 4 hours or up to overnight. (Or you can freeze the marinated chicken for a week or two till ready to grill. Just thaw it before hand).
- The next day, skewer the chicken pieces in bamboo sticks that have been pre-soaked in water for 20 minutes. Use one bamboo skewer for each chicken thigh.
- Prepare the basting liquid by using the marinade and set aside.
- Pre-heat the grill to a medium high for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Grill the chicken pieces for a total time of 20 to 25 minutes, basting every now and then to have a shiny glaze. Flip the chicken pieces after the first half of cooking so they cook thoroughly on all sides. Serve with garlic fried rice and Filipino achara pickles (green papaya sweet-sour pickle relish).
- Cook's comments: ingredients like banana ketchup and calamansi juice (frozen or from fresh limes) can be purchased at Asian markets by the Philippine section. If not available, substitute with tomato catsup and fresh lemon juice.
- Recipe notes: boneless chicken thighs are best for this recipe and cook fast. If preferred, substitute with boneless chicken breast. If using chicken breast pieces, tenderize with a meat mallet before marinating. Please remember if you cook chicken pieces with bone cooking time will be longer.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of the marinade ingredients. The actual amount of the marinade consumed will vary. The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.