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27 April 2012

Honey Lime Ginger Chicken Thighs and Philippine Java Rice

It's warm. It's sunny.  The air is still.  And best of all, it's a national holiday!  

The 25th of April is Italy's Festa della Liberazione. 

That means no work and no school.  And there's no better way to spend the day than grill our lunch and stay outdoors while basking under the sun.   

We had plans of having a relaxing lunch in an agriturismo and let the kids finish their energy in the garden along with their friends but this possibility got thwarted when my son woke up with a roaring fever a couple of days before.  So home it was and I had the kitchen to run and the grill for my husband.

Not all problems are bad at all because sometimes, they pave way to better things.  Just like this lunch.  We had been looking forward to the sumptuous lunch menu we were supposed to have at the agriturismo.  Disappointment (and guilt for feeling bad) was evident in the air but this grilled lunch came out a winner instead.  

Thank God Suzanne of You Made That? came up with this extra delicious chicken recipe.  She made it for her little picky-eaters who loved it and since I have my own little picky-eaters, I went for her Asian inspired recipe.   My kids are not new to Asian dishes because I make sure they know their passive heritage and have been introducing to them some dishes that have mild Asian flavors.  We eat Italian food 90% of the time and I leave the other 10% room for Asian cuisine awareness for my kids. 

I partnered Suzanne's chicken with java rice.   It doesn't have anything to do with Javanese cuisine, as I have learned while making this post.  The Philippine version had been popularized as java rice that comes with grilled chicken thighs.  I grew up with that combination and it's something that I wish I can recreate at home but it just remains in my memory as something outstandingly delicious but as much as I juggle my memory, I cannot pinpoint the exact taste anymore.  It had been more than a decade since I last had it.  

I used annatto oil to color the rice.  It's just a simple mixture of annatto seeds cooked with extra virgin olive oil (or any oil) for a few minutes.  Here's the recipe of Panlasang Pinoy that I followed.  As for guiding me in composing the java rice, I referred to Yummy's recipe.  I omitted the strong spices and filled up the rice with what I had at home and what the kids would like.  At that point, I strayed away from the recipe of the java rice I was following. This discovery of new ingredients gave me a rice recipe that hit well with my family.   So, along with Suzanne's honey lime ginger chicken thighs, I will always partner it with my version of java rice.  It's a marvelous combination that my kids couldn't stop saying how good the lunch was in between bites. 

What is an outdoor grilling without a big bowl of fresh strawberries to enjoy?  A bowl of strawberries sweetened with lingonberry concentrate is the newest craze of my kids ever since I bought a bottle in Ikea.  I usually use limoncello, vermouth or  creme de cassis but since I always have to make two batches, one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic, the lingonberry came out agreeable to everyone.

We are having another day of grilling coming up on Labor Day.  I think I might just have a second round of the same menu to hear the kids holler with happiness again.  

Have a good weekend everyone and buon appetito!

Honey Lime Ginger Chicken Thighs

original recipe taken from You Made That?  

marinade for 6 - 8 chicken thighs
  • 1/3 cup or canola or safflower (I used extra virgin olive oil.)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup  soy sauce
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger (or you can also grate it.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6-8 chicken thighs (Suzanne used boneless & skinless thighs but I opted for the ones with the skin and bones.)
  1. Mix all the ingredients together then pour over the chicken in a plastic gallon-size ziplock bag, seal and refrigerate for 4-5 hours.  I left mine overnight, preparing it the night before.
  2. Grill the chicken on medium high about 10 minutes (without bone) until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear when cut into the middle,  or internal temperature reading on meat thermometer read 160-165 F.  I grilled mine on the fire. 

Java Rice

4 servings
  • 4 tablespoons annatto oil (for recipe, scroll down)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup salami, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen or fresh green peas
  • 1 cup bottled roasted peppers, diced
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice (or any similar rice)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 lime, zest
  • 1/2 lime, juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Add the garlic, onions and salami for about 3 minutes or until they are almost toasted.
  2. Add the green peas and the roasted peppers then cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and mix well. The rice should be coated well with the annatto oil. If it looks pale, add more annatto oil.
  4. Season with the paprika, salt, pepper, lime zest and juice. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Serve warm.

Annatto Oil

original recipe taken from Panlasang Pinoy

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds (can be bought in any Asian store.)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or other kinds of oil)
  1. Over low - medium heat, in a small saucepan, combine the annatto seeds and extra virgin olive oil.
  2. When tiny bubbles start to form around the annatto seeds, turn off the heat and leave the seeds in the oil for another 2 minutes. Do not overcook the seeds because it can produce a bitter taste.
  3. Strain the seeds and transfer the annatto oil to a container. Discard the seeds.


  1. What a great holiday lunch at home! I am saving Suzanne's recipe for a dinner soon, the chicken sounds wonderful!

    1. Hi Erin! Oh you should bookmark Suzanne's recipe soon because it's really good.

  2. Just beautiful Rowena you are quite amazing at creating a meal and post that gets my taste buds salivating. The Java rice looks so delicious as does your chicken, I do love the bone in chicken. Your children are adorable too. Have a wonderful weekend. xoxox

    1. Suzanne, it's actually the other way around. Your post had me salivating for barbecued chicken so much that I had to do it immediately. After two days of your post. Haha! I used chicken with bones because I didn't have the time to debone it. But I think whether they are deboned or not, the recipe is still delicious anyway. Thanks and have a good weekend too!

  3. I love your spin on Suzanne's chicken; the colors in the java rice are stunning. Italy has the best holidays, I think - each one is reason enough for a lovely grilled lunch!

    1. Hi Laura! Suzanne's recipe really caught me. I knew it was going to be good from the ingredients. It's simple and delicious. I think there are too many holidays here but who's complaining? It's always a reason to stay together and have some barbecue lunches. Thanks!

  4. Love all the ingredients that you used on the chicken and your java rice is making me feel hungry and homesick. :)

    1. Thanks Ray! Suzanne's chicken was really wonderful and matched with java rice so well. It smelled and tasted like home for a while. :-)

  5. Love your take on Suzanne's chicken! It looks amazing, and clearly your adorable little one was chowing down, too (what a cutie!). The weekend is warming up for us, so I plan on firing up our grill, too!

    1. Suzanne's recipe is a hit with kids, even picky-eaters. Finally, we can stay outdoors again. Don't you just love the warm weather?

  6. Rowena,
    This dish brings me back home to the Philippines - meals at Aristocrat's with their bbq chicken and java rice!!!! I haven't had java rice in such a long time, so I'm definitely keeping this recipe! So excited to try your java rice...yum, yum, yum!

    1. Precisely! I forgot if it was Aristocrat or Max's. Shame on me for not remembering! It's been really a loooong time since I last had a meal of chicken barbecue & java rice there. Then at the last minute, I made a sauce of vinegar and soy sauce and I was really transported back to the old days. :-)

  7. Hi Weng! I need to make Suzanne's chicken too. It looks delicious. And the Philippine Java Rice looks beautiful. I recently learned about annato, too. What a nice meal! Your children are always smiling. So cute!!

  8. Suzanne's chicken dish looked so appetizing and beautiful when she shared it--and so does yours. :) I had no idea about Java rice but your take on it has me wanting to try it.

    So glad you shared the pic of your little one--love her smile! :)

  9. What a lovely feast you had! Your rice dish looks and sounds amazing - love the flavors. Love the photo of the grill with the rosemary spread out. Have a wonderful Sunday!!

  10. What a lovely lunch this turned out to be :) Suzanne's chicken dish would be a big hit around here as well, everything looks delicious! I love using annatto oil...adds such beautiful color :)

  11. If you're thinking of making these dishes and haven't done it yet - DON"T WAIT! We really enjoyed them and they will be a frequent rerun in this house. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Moosella! I'm so glad you liked them!


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