Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Philippine-style Chicken "BBQ"

This is it, folks.
This is our Holy Grail of recipes.
Wait, this is the BEST recipe in the whole wide world! ;)

This is our recipe for Philippine "barbecue", which is different from American barbecue as you shall see. I treat this recipe with respect and always speak of it in hushed tones.

Except, of course, when I have to shout, "This is the BEST RECIPE in the WORLD!" ;)

We were a little hesitant to post this recipe at first, because this recipe is very close to our hearts. We are not alone in this: talk to anybody who grew up in Manila and nothing evokes that childhood more than marinated pork on skewers (aka Pork BBQ), "barbecued" or grilled over charcoal.

This mass nostalgia is the reason why the few restaurants we have in Vancouver catering to Filipinos can get away charging as much as $8 dollars for a skewer!

Of course, I won't ever pay $8 for a skewer. I'm cheap that way.

Also, this is our Yaya's recipe, one that she has years tinkering with and perfecting to the taste that we like. I happen to think that our Yaya's version is the best version of pork barbecue skewer there is, and when I try some other skewer, I always think back and compare the other unfavourably to our Yaya's barbecue skewers.

My apologies to the other pork skewers I have tried recently, but my heart already belongs to our Yaya's skewers.

We only made pork barbecue skewers half a dozen times in our years in Vancouver, because the skewering of it is very labour-intensive.

View pictures of Philippine Pork "BBQ". I am drooling already just thinking about them.

You may say, "What's so hard about skewering some meat onto sticks?!" I'll tell you why!

First of all, the pork is not cut into cubes. Skewering cubes is easy. The pork in this case, however, is sliced thinly, and somehow, not in regular shapes. That is, they're not all the same size and in perfect rectangles. So manoeuvering them onto the sticks and making them look pretty takes some effort. Also, the pork would be sooooo cold!!! It hurts the fingers and hands, the cold.

Second, when we make pork BBQ, we can't just buy 1 or 2 pounds of pork and call it a day. That amount won't even last until the start of dinner! Those skewers disappear fast during the walk from the grill outside to the dining table inside. There is quite a number of us in the household, after all.

Besides, we are ones who, for some reason, cannot control ourselves. Must've been raised that way. Whereas other people would be satisfied with 2 or 3 skewers, we prefer to GORGE ourselves. In fact, if for some reason each of us only gets 2 skewers, whines and complaints would ensue.

"Is that everything?"
(Yun lang?! Wala na ba?!!?!)

"How come there's no more?!!"
(Bakit wala na?!)

"Why did you make so little?!! Why even bother making any!"
(Bakit ang konti-konti?!?! Gumawa ka pa! Bitin naman, e! 'Kakainis.)

Usually, we also invite some people over when making this. Hence, 2 pounds of pork will never cut it. We buy 15 to 20 pounds of pork. Imagine the labor!

Why are we going on and on about Pork BBQ when the title clearly says chicken?

Well, here's the twist.

We're doing "Chicken Barbeque" instead. Chicken is much easier to skewer. Although, we bypass that whole step and don't even skewer the chicken pieces anymore.

This recipe is reminiscent of Aristocrat's chicken barbecue and I don't know how Yaya ever managed to come up with this recipe. She must have access to information unknown to us.

We're submitting this to Dhanggit's party. We weren't sure what type of party it's going to be: is it an elegant hors d'oeuvres-y type party? Or is it going to be a buffet-style party reminiscent of fiestas? We finally decided to forge ahead with this "hearty" type food because the flavours here are part of the childhood of every Filipino and we hope that Mayumi gets to enjoy them, growing up in France.

A note regarding Aristocrat

Aristocrat is a very famous restaurant in the Philippines, famous for its chicken barbecue plate, served with pieces of chicken, a bowl of "Java" rice, and a small mound of atsara (pickled green papaya). The chicken is also served with a peanut sauce.

In the land where delicious chicken dishes abound, Aristocrat's chicken barbecue is ranked as one of the top -- if not the top -- chicken recipes throughout.

At least, this is how I remember it, from the vantage of having grown up during Aristocrat's heyday, when they had just that one big restaurant along Roxas Boulevard, along Manila Bay.

The restaurant is still standing, with numerous branches across the country, but I cannot vouch for the quality of the food now, not having eaten there for a long, long time, close to 15 years.

On the Aristocrat website, it states: "The insatiable craving for Manila's famous Chicken Barbecue sends regular patrons in droves." Haha. Insatiable! In droves! =D Although, from what I remember, although it was so long ago, that statement is not hyperbole.

So, finally, we get to the dish itself.

Here below is Yaya's typewritten recipe written specifically for me. You see from its stained self that it's been used a lot. The measurements are not too exact, but I'll re-type it at the end of the post. She also addresses me personally in the procedure part of the recipe. =)

The marinade
As with most of the recipes we know, this one starts with the marinade. Yes, 7-up!!

The marinade includes garlic (the massive amount you see), soy sauce, sugar, kalamansi juice, 7-Up or Sprite, salt and a generous amount of black pepper. For so long, we've been living without kalamansi, so we've always used lemon instead. Limes would work as well.

I taste the marinade as I add ingredients, adjusting it as I go. When it is acceptable, the pork slices go in. In this case, the chicken parts went in.

Please, the meat should marinate at least overnight. At least. Yaya says to marinate chicken for 2 days and 2 nights(!).

Then, off to the grill! Of course, charcoal is best. But we're too lazy for that, so we just use our ol' propane grill.

"Barbeque" sauce
To make the basting sauce (the "barbeque" sauce), I use some of the marinade and add ketchup, worcestershire sauce, a touch of oil, and adjust the sugar and soy sauce levels. I heat the sauce until "cooked."

Baste, baste, baste(!) with the barbeque sauce while the meat is cooking.

Peanut sauce
As for the peanut sauce, again, I use some of the marinade and add the same things above (not so much ketchup, though) plus some peanut butter. I heat this to cook the marinade and make the mixture smooth. Serve peanut sauce with your chicken barbeque. It is heavenly on it!

If you're iffy about using the used marinade for the barbeque sauce and peanut sauce, simply make a new mixture with the marinade ingredients and use that as your base.

There you go! Some chicken barbeque!

Now we'll just have to work on getting that Java rice correctly. ;)

Happy Birthday, Mayumi!

Yaya's Barbequed Pork
(copied exactly, except the translations)

1- big head garlic, crushed
2- tsp. salt
1- tsp. black pepper
4- Tbsp. soy sauce
4- sugar (I assume this is in tablespoons.)
1- can 7-up or Sprite
10- pcs. calamansi
1- kg. pork, sliced thin into 1-1/2" pcs. (We get shoulder butt.)

Mix all ingredients together including the pork. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

shobe, ang sauce bali itong binabaran, dagdagan mo nalang ng catsup, lea perrin, 2- oil, sugar. ang chicken barbecue naman ganon din ang timpla sa barbecue pork, kaya lang wala itong catsup; kaya lang ang manok kailangan dalawang araw at dalawang gabi ang pagbabad mo, ok.

("Shobe" is my "nickname"; it's Fukien/Hokkien for "Little Sister", but it's become my nickname, be it in Filipino or Fukien.)

Shobe, the sauce is the marinade itself, just add catsup, Lea & Perrins, 2- oil, sugar. For chicken barbeque, the marinade is the same as barbeque pork, but without the catsup, and you have to marinate the chicken for 2 days and 2 nights, ok?

Click here for Philippine Pork "BBQ".

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We're submitting this to Perfect Party Dishes at Dhanggit's Kitchen,
in celebration of Mayumi's first birthday.

Yaya's Greatest Hits
Philippine-style Hamburger
Philippine Pork "BBQ"
Philippine Chicken "BBQ"
Golden Egg Torta

eatingclub vancouver Filipino food
Mama's Ampalaya (Bitter Melon)
Faux Kamote-Que
Philippine-Style Chicken "BBQ"
Fried Hasa Hasa (Mackerel)
"Savory" Chicken Wings
Sinamak (Chile-infused Vinegar)
Pan-roasted Halibut w/ Fava Beans, Potato-Onion Cakes & Bagoong Butter Sauce
Bulalo & Bangus: an even simpler Filipino meal
Baked Tahong (Mussels)
Adobo Kangkong (Adobo Water Spinach)
Oyster Torta (Oyster Omelette)
Chicken Tinola (Chicken Soup w/ Green Papaya & Pepper Leaves)
(Chinese) Roast Pork Belly / Lechon
Tilapia wrapped in Banana Leaves
Pork Belly, Two Ways
Chicken Adobo
Salabat (Ginger Tea)
Lechon Manok (Philippine Roast Chicken) & Lechon Sauce
"Chinese Adobo" Clams and Oysters
Bistek (Citrus Beef with Caramelized Onions)
Beef Kaldereta (Beef Stew with Bell Peppers)
Atsara (Green Papaya Pickle)
Sardinas na Bangus (Milkfish in the style of Sardines) and Pressure Cooker Fear

We're also submitting this to Monthly Mingle.

This month: Grill it!, hosted by Sig of Live to Eat.

Monthly Mingle information at What's for Lunch, Honey?

We're submitting this to Culinarty's Original Recipes.

More information here.
The Round-ups here.


  1. Oh wow - this looks so good! It takes me back to my childhood and days when we had those massive multi-family events and all our Titos & Kuyas would be crowded around the grill drinking San Miguel, popping peanuts and catching up on things. I'm anxious to make this soon while I can still grill! Salamat ha! :)

  2. Wow ang sarap naman..

  3. Wow, amazing! I mean that picture of the chicken is just unreal! What a wonderful recipe.

  4. You know ladies its been a long while i havent tasted Pinoy BBQ! Your photos made me drool as I become nostalgic! This is indeed a delicious entry for my little girl's birthday! And what a way to impress my french guests with this recipe 100% Pinoy goodness! Thanks for sharing this recipe, I will definitely try this :-)

  5. What a dish! I just made coca cola baby back ribs this week. Soda makes a great glaze for barbecue. Thanks for sharing your family recipe, love seeing the original copy!

  6. It really does look like The Best Chicken in the World!

    But how can anyone compete with the best in the world...

    I think I'll just have to post nothing but soup from now on... :)

  7. Yummy Yummy Yummy - this looks sooo good for the tummy. I'm loving this recipe. And I kinda feel you on paying $6 for that skewer - lol...I'd pay it though as long as it was really really good.


  8. I will definitely try this!

  9. Well, now I know what I'm making this weekend.

  10. oh my does that ever look good. The flavors sound so wonderful. Looks like I have a new bbq to try

  11. Luscious! If this tastes half as good as it looks, I'm sold :)

  12. Where can I get a bucket of this BBQ chicken? It looks amazing!

  13. That sauce looks delectable. And, peanut sauce for dipping too! Now, I'm hungry.

  14. I had this a couple of weeks and I think you are quite right, it is the best BBQ chicken ever!! I can't get enough!

  15. My gosh, they look soooooo good!! I can't wait to try this out.

  16. Oooh, that does look like the perfect barbeque sauce. I'd go with pork skewers though. I love chicken too but there's just something about pork on a stick. :)

  17. OMG, that sounds so good and I want to make it but what's calamnsi? I really need to learn some Philipino food, ASAP!

  18. wowza, thanks for sharing your amazing secret recipe! the components of that bbq sauce make for an interesting combination, one that i'm really anxious to try! :)

  19. This looks delicious! I only have one question, when you're doing the pork do you cut up the shoulder before you marinate? Or just put the whole thing in the marinade? I'm sure you cut it up, but I'm really planning on trying this and want to be sure.

  20. That looks awesome! I can completely believe that your Yaya's recipe is the best. It always is when it's passed down ;) Using 7-up is pretty cool. Got to try this some time. Thanks for sharing!

  21. I've seen coke as the marinade before and now I see 7-up! :D

    Looks absolutely delish!

  22. Oh, that looks absolutely...I mean, it's shiny...oh, all I can say is that picture of chicken (standing-in-for-pork) made me seriously hungry, and now I'm going down to fix a snack. Thanks for the terrific tales and the recipe. Delicious!

  23. Oh wow. I know exactly what this is going to taste like. This is rare stuff and I'm really thankful that you guys are willing to share it.

  24. This looks great! I love it bookmarked! It has such complex layers of flavors. It has to be so tasty.

  25. Man that is awesome...if you'd open a restaurant here in San Diego, you'd have a line around the block!

  26. Yum! Your BBQ looks so tasty, I haven't any in a while and now I'm really craving some.

  27. wow, a family secret recipe.... and it comes with the label "world's best" ... Now I've gotta try it A.S.A.P. Thank you for sending this over to the mingle! :)

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. i absolutely love the pictures of your old recipes typed out. so vintage! i also love the stories of the dishes. this looks so sweet and delicious. my mouth is actually watering.7 up - who would've thunk it?

  30. I love the colour of the sauce. I think I'd use gingerale with is recipe. Great entry!

  31. this looks prefectly glazed ... woah! and the stained recipe lends further credibility to the goodness of this dish, hee

  32. OMG!! That looks SOOOOOOOO good!! I'm not even ALLOWED to have an outdoor grill where I live, but this makes me want to buy one ANYWAY - I don't think I've ever seen a more gorgeous barbeque picture! And the story? PRICELESS! Thanks for sharing!

  33. We did chicken because of laziness. *MY* personal favorite would be the pork barbecue! =D

    I kinda want one now...

    (Oh, the peanut sauce is only served with the chicken version, not the pork version. When I think about it, a little strange. Hehe.)

    kalamansi/calamansi is a type of citrus fruit. It really smells unique and heavenly. I think limes would be closer than lemons.

    We cut up the pork first and then put the pieces in the marinade. It's all about the surface area! ;D

    we are never full:
    Our Yaya typed out the recipes *especially* for me, for when we moved here to Canada. =)

    7-up~ I think perhaps the fizz tenderizes all these "tough" meats. =)

    I've made it with Coke and ginger ale, whatever was on hand. I believe it's just the sugar and fizz that's needed.

  34. I made your chicken BBQ this weekend for a party and everyone loved it! The marinade was so flavorful and even boneless chicken breast and thighs came out so moist! Thank you for this awesome recipe, I'll work on getting my chicken perfectly glazed like yours!!


  35. akiko:
    Thanks for trying out the recipe! We're glad it turned out so well!


  36. I hope it turns out good. I'm doing this for my husband. And this is the first time I'm making BBQ! Wish me luck! Thanks, by the way, for sharing!

  37. anonymous:
    Hope it works out well for you!

  38. Um how much 7 up or Sprite do you add? Says in the typewriter note a bottle? How many litres if the whole bottle?

  39. anonymous:
    Hello! Thanks for visiting! For the 7up/Sprite, one can (333mL or so) would work. But even going as much as the 591mL bottle shouldn't hurt either! You can taste the marinade (before adding the meat) and tweak it as you like. =)

  40. Hi, we use 7 Up too with Filipino BBQ pork. We always semi-froze a pork butt for easy slicing. I remember skewering tons of these things my with my aunts ... same with lumpia or empanada. Yummy!

  41. This looks absolutely amazing. I did notice a lot of red peppers in the marinade, but did not see them listed in the recipe. Are they a necessary component? What kind of peppers and in what amount should I use?

  42. Ninette:
    If a whole group of people does it, then it's fun. By oneself, not so much. =D

    Those are hot peppers in the picture, specifically Thai bird chiles. But, you can use hot sauce or Tabasco, or red chili flakes. And just add then according to taste. If you like things hot, go for it!

  43. Hey this looks amazing! I want to make it for mothers day but how much lemon juice do I use in the marinade?

    also, how much ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and oil do I use in the BBQ sauce?

  44. Anonymous:
    re lemons - You can start with 2 lemons and adjust according to taste from there. I don't have exact measurements, so what I do is taste the marinade as I go along. Then, when I like it, I put in the meat.

    As for the BBQ sauce, only add a few tablespoons of oil (a couple to start), and perhaps a generous dash of Worcestershire. As for the ketchup, I just start putting it in the sauce until it resembles barbeque sauce in consistency. Again, you can adjust each ingredients until you like what you taste! =)

  45. Our family's marinade is similar - brown sugar instead of white and white vinegar added in equal ratios to the soy sauce. Don't do the extra step of adding ketchup or Lea & Perrin's but will definitely try that next time.

    Do you boil the marinade before basting onto the skewers?

  46. Karen:
    Apparently, JS is nor formulating a JS version of BBQ, as opposed to Yaya's version. =D For the basting liquid, sometimes we just make a new "marinade" altogether instead of using the used marinade.

  47. Thanks so much for this recipe. I just tried making it and hubby really liked it! I was not able to follow the 2 days marinating time though since hubby can't wait any longer. I marinated 3 legs and 3 thighs so the remaining half has been marinated for more than 24 hours, but the ones marinated in less than half day tasted awesome already, much more the other half...

    I didn't have worcestershire so I used my ever reliable oyster sauce and still it tasted really good. I don't use any kind of catsup other than UFC so I guess that added to the local Pinoy taste.

    I'll be sharing this to my blog and of course, credits go to your yaya... ;)

  48. thank u for sharing your yaya's secret recipe. but what is Lea and Perrins?

  49. Thanks for posting this great marinade recipe! Just used it today on some bbq ribs and it came out great. Marinated the ribs for about 1.5 days, then reduced the marinade on the stove with some ketchup, lea and perrins, shallots, garlic, and some honey instead of sugar for added stickiness. I let the marinade reduce for quite a long time to get it super thick. The ribs were a big hit and I didn't have any leftovers. Thanks again!

  50. AC:
    Glad it worked for you! Oh yeah, UFC is even more Pinoy, hehe.

    Lea & Perrins is a brand of Worcestershire sauce.

    Thank you for trying out the recipe! =)

  51. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  52. This food looks incredible! I love BBQ but it has to be done right. I hope that the vancouver catering company we've hired for our family reunion can measure up!

  53. Looks great, I miss Filipino NYC I ate it sooo much but now I'm n Iowa, not too many filipino stores n restaurants so Thanxx I'm goin to try it!!! Salamat:)

  54. Thanks for the recipe. Looking at the pics and your description makes me hungry! Planning to do this on Thanksgiving with a few people on my guest list. If my visitors have peanut allergy, what is another option to use for dipping sauce? Can we do without the dipping sauce?

  55. Using the word Yaya is so dehumanizing, so degrading and then using the Yaya's recipe. What a total tactless insensitive person you are.

  56. maricor 77:
    Hope it turned out well for you!

    Sorry for the late reply, the blog is more or less on hiatus. You don't need the dipping sauce. Or, if making it, I suggest using tahini (sesame paste). Or, if it's specifically a peanut allergy, then perhaps you can use other nut butters (almond butter seems to be the most common). Hope it turned out!

    I don't know what Yaya you are talking about. In Tagalog, it means "nanny". If this is the term you dislike, then sorry for that. Otherwise, I don't know how it can be "dehumanizing". So please refrain from commenting without the proper information. Thanks.

    1. Question i see you marinade the pork 24 hrs but do u also baste it. It looks like you use the marination sauce for basting as well but seems you also add lea perrins into the basting sauce aswell? This brings back memories when my neighbor from guam do her bbqs

  57. i know your blog is on hiatus but just wanted to let you know that my boneless chicken bbq is currently marinating! the hardest part about the recipe is WAITING for 2 days! the marinade tastes SPOT ON, so I am really excited to see how it comes out. i'll let you know!! :) thanks for posting the recipe!

  58. When i get homesick, all i do is go to your site and type yaya, all her recipes reminds me of home.

    1. Thanks for letting us know the recipes are useful to you. =)

  59. So when you say "the BEST recipe", do you mean the recipe on the typed sheet or the recipe in the photos? Because they are clearly very different.

  60. If you have to put measurments on say 4 lbs of pork or chicken for the marinade and the bbq sauce , what woukd they be ? I really want me try at this to look loime yours .... thank u

  61. Do you just slice or squeeze lemon? Did you use a mixture of lemon and lime?

    1. It would be lemon juice/squeezed lemons. You could use a combination of lemons and limes, or even just limes, if you wish. It would be great if you can find calamansi (kalamansi)!

  62. This look fabulous. I can't wait to try this.

  63. Recipe bqq sauce for chicken??

  64. I tried this last weekend and it was really good but I have a question. Mine was not nearly as red as your in the photo. I added lots of ketchup and the sauce tasted sweet, but after glazing the chicken it was not red like that and I think it might have needed more sweetness. Is the original pretty sweet? Like a chinese rib sweet, or more tangy, citrisy? Thanks!

  65. The pork BarBQ in the picture look irresistible. Gotta try this recipe! One question though, the amount of garlic in the recipe calls for a big head (I would say about 10-12 cloves). But in the picture, there's about 3-4 big bulbs (30-40 cloves). Which one is correct? Just wanna make sure before I try the recipe. Thanks.

    1. One can't go wrong with adding more garlic! =D

      Ours had a lot more because we add more garlic usually, and also, because we usually make a BIG amount, so we would've doubled or tripled the recipe.

  66. Looks delicious. Too bad that someone who is looking for a simple recipe must dig for it in so much wordiness.

  67. thank you so much for sharing this recipe!! I've been craving Filipino bbq and have to admit this was really husband approves! he's irish but he keeps saying 'sarap'... im so lucky to have my very own calamansi tree in my was the first thing my papa planted for me when we moved into our house.for the basting i reduced down the marinade and added tomato sauce, lea perkins and oil adjusted to taste. sooo tasty. thank you again!!

  68. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I lived in Hong Kong for a time and missed this dish. Sadly though I followed the recipe the end result didnt turn out as well I had hoped. I think I keep making a mistake with the sauce at the end? I am not sure how much soy/sugar/worcheshire to put in and after cooking down the marinade and adding 1/4 cup soy/brown sugar and a dash of worcheshire I still end up with a grainy sauce instead of the glossy one in the images you posted.(lots of garlic!)
    Can you tell me what it is I am doing wrong? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thanks for giving it a try. The sauce should get shiny when it's cooked enough, when the sugar dissolves. IE, after adding the additional ingredients to the mrinade, heat the mixture until it's "cooked" (the sugar dissolves; the sauce is a nice basting consistency).

      Then, baste the chicken pieces often as they cook. Basting the chicken as they cook caramelizes the sauce and makes them coat the chicken (versus merely serving the sauce on the side or on top of the cooked chicken).

      I hope this helps!


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