Prelude to a Feast
The Filimeato Feast is coming up on Sunday and to ensure a happy crowd I decided I better take my Filipino bbq on a test run. Filipino cooking is new to me, and have only been attempting it since realizing how great their food is after a recent trip to the 7000 islands this past winter. So I know I like Filipino bbq, I know what it's supposed to taste like, what it's supposed to look like, but like some many foreign things, have no idea what's really in it. After coming back from the Philippines, I got two cookbooks, and between them tried to make some sense of what their BBQ is made of and took a stab at it tonight in preparation for this weekend's all out feast.
First step was finding a recipe that had ingredients that I thought would recreate the taste I'm familiar with. One book had 3 different bbq recipes, while the other had 1 that didn't seem quite right to me. So I made a combination of the two and turned up the sweetness a little, because that's the flavor I identify most with Filipino bbq. I put together the marinade the night before to let the chicken have a full 24 hours to soak in the flavor, since the bbq tastes more like the marinade than chicken.
Before I started the grill up, I set a bunch of wooden skewers to soak for about 30 min, this is essential if you don't want them to burn and catch fire while the chicken cooks. Once I had the the fire going, I skewered the meat. I'm a big believer in leaving room between the pieces of meat, since this helps it cook faster, more evenly, and I think gives it more flavor since more marinade gets exposed to heat to brown. I didn't do that here though, because all the bbq I ate in the Philippines had as much meat stuffed onto one skewer as possible, and I wanted to stay true to what the culture offers up.
I grilled the skewers about 4-5 mins per side (using 4 sides), always leaving each side down, untouched, until it was time to turn. On the first rotation, I realized this wasn't the bbq I was hoping for. What I was expecting to be a glistening sweet glaze was grilling up flat and dull, that's not to say they didn't look delicious none-the-less.
When they were all done, I placed the hot chicken skewers over a bed of rice and served. I was correct in thinking these weren't exactly what I was anticipating when I set out to make them. What I was hoping to be a sticky sweet stick of meat tasted more like generic Asian skewers I've made at Meatwaves past. They were tasty though, and I enjoyed every piece of the 3 sticks I made for myself. They also left a nice flavor on the rice.
Although good, this is not what I really want to be serving on Sunday. So I decided to go straight to the source and skip the books and got a recipe from the gf's uncle, who is known as the bbq maker in the family. It's not really a recipe, but more of a list of stuff that usually goes into the bbq, and then a note saying to use as much of each to make the flavor right. I'm hoping that after making this version of the bbq, I can take this new list of ingredients and come up with something that better represents the Filipino bbq I've come to love.
Oriental Barbecued Chicken
Adapted from Filipino Cuisine
2 lbs of chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 gloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup sake
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups olive oil
Wash and dry chicken and toss with 1 teaspoon of the salt and place in a large ziploc bag.
For the marinade, combine the rest of the ingredients, using only 1/4 cup of the oil, in a saucepan and cook over low heat for a few minutes. Pour the marinade all over the chicken and close the bag, getting as much air out as possible. Refrigerate overnight, turning the bag over a couple times to ensure even coating.
Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 mins. Thread chicken pieces onto skewers and brush all over with remaining olive oil.
Lit 1 chimney of charcoal, and when lit, pour out evenly on the grate. Grill chicken skewers about 5-10 mins per side until done. Serve over rice.