15 June 2012

Grilled Chicken Inasal and a Tribute to My Father


Until the 2nd of January, 1999 I had a father.  Let me tell you a little bit about him.  He was the greatest pilot in the world, at least to the eyes of his daughter.  He was fondly called "Golden Hands" by his former employer because he was the only pilot who can land a C-130 cargo plane without spilling his coffee while landing.  Heck, you don't even realize that you have already touched down when he is behind the captain's seat.    He was my hero, like all daughters would say too but he truly is because he is page 13 of the Philippines' Mga Bagong Bayani (The New Heroes of the Philippines). 


He was flying for a company in Africa, airdropping humanitarian help for World Food Program for the people scattered in remote areas.  Food and medicines were essential and he and his colleagues fly around Angola and Kenya airdropping them everyday.   His days start at 4 AM and end after 12 hours.  His days were long but he loved it.  He loved the local people he stayed with and this feeling was wholeheartedly reciprocated.   

My father's last flight was concluded when the plane he was flying was shot down by a missile in Angola.   He was on a search & rescue mission of another UN plane that was also shot down a week before.  The first plane's pilot's son asked him to help look for his father.   Being a father himself, he couldn't turn down such a request. 


Father's Day is celebrated in Italy every 19th of March, the day of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph), the father of Jesus.  It is the day we dedicate to my husband, another equally wonderful father to my kids.  This other Father's Day, is what I grew up celebrating in honor of my father.  I recall making handmade cards and writing letters that were always inserted in a big envelope by my mother to send wherever my father was located.   I wished to write but there was no one to send it to anymore.   I avoided Father's Day when I lost him because I didn't have the courage to confront it.  I didn't even want to continue this little tribute to him until, at a coincidental timing, someone from World Food Program emailed me yesterday to help fight hunger in Africa by putting their banner on my sidebar.   I said yes.  From pilot to food blogger, we took on the same mission.

Happy Father's Day to the Greatest Hero in the World!


I chose this chicken recipe because it is the specialty of the simple restaurant where my father loved taking us to whenever we were all together.  It's a specialty of one province in the Philippines called Bacolod. In the capital, Manila, restaurants frequently try to recreate it but I heard that nothing can come close to the real one. The chicken is served in a typical Philippine way on wicker plates covered with banana leaves, accompanied with fried rice garnished with loads of toasted garlic. I don't have wicker plates nor banana leaves but I wanted to recreate it for my own kids to get to know its taste and maybe I can explain to them later on what special sentiments I have attached to this food. 

Have a good weekend everyone and Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there!



Grilled Chicken Inasal

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 1/2 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped  
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons strong dark vinegar like red wine or cider
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed calamansi or lime juice  
  • 2 teaspoons + a pinch of salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon + a dash of black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons annatto oil or achuete oil (if you don't have this, replace with olive oil whisked with 1/2 teaspoon paprika) 
  • 4 chicken thighs 
  • 30 g. margarine or butter, melted

Directions:
  1. Pound the lemongrass and garlic in a mortar and pestle. 
  2. When it reaches a pasty consistency, add the vinegar, calamansi juice, 2 teaspoons salt  & 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Mix well.
  3. Pour the liquid in a small bowl and whisk it with 1/4 cup annatto oil.
  4. Put the chicken pieces in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade in it.  Make sure all the chicken pieces are covered with the marinade.  Refrigerate between 2 to 6 hours.  For best results, marinate them for 6 hours.
  5. For the basting sauce, combine the butter, 2 tablespoons of annatto oil, a pinch of salt & a dash of pepper in a small bowl.  Mix well.
  6. Brown both sides of the chicken in a grill, basting with the sauce occasionally, between 30 - 45 minutes.  
  7. Best served with mixed fried rice like java rice.  You can also accompany it with a simple tomato salad tossed with extra virgin olive oil, dried oregano & salt.    





22 comments:

  1. What a thoughtful tribute to your father, this certainly brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad you had the courage to share, and what a perfect dish to honor his memory!

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    1. Thank you Laura. Believe me, after so many years, I am still very affected by his loss.

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  2. Oh, wow, Rowena. My heart is heavy after reading this post, especially after seeing your father's picture. The world lost a good man that day but heaven gained a new angel, I have no doubt.

    I can't tell you how much this post has touched me. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I am glad you liked what I wrote Jean. He was indeed a special man who raised us very well with the help of my mother. Thank you!

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  3. While this chicken looks so delectable, it pales in comparison to the beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your father. I am sorry for your loss and it sounds like we all lost a great soul on Jan. 2, 1999.

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    1. Thank you Jill. We lost a very good person with a good heart and a father.

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  4. What a great post! I am tearing up reading about your Dad. I am sure he would be very proud of what you have become, and the kids you are raising.

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  5. Rowena, I cannot imagine the kind of lost your family had! My heart goes out to you. That said, your father is indeed a hero! As a Filipino, I salute him - his life, his mission, his sacrifice. Thank you for sharing your story...

    Going back to the chicken, did I already tell you? I LOVE chicken inasal! Served with a side of spicy vinegar with "siling labuyo" - YUM! This is one of my favourite foods that come from Bacolod, the south!

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    1. It is strange to say that he really is a hero. Thanks Jen. The chicken pairs really well well with vinegar, not the siling labuyo though because I am not a great fan of spicy food. :-)

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  6. Rowena what nice post and so personal. Your father sounds like a wonderful person who really loved what he did and helping others, it is really touching to hear of his heroic act for someone else. May you always have these special memories to help your heart feel at peace. Wonderful looking chicken dish too.

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  7. What a touching post, Rowena! Thank you for sharing this with us. This chicken look very tasty. You prepared it with love and thought of your lovely father!

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    1. Thank you Sandra. When food is a reminder of someone special to you, preparing it with love is something that comes out of us.

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  8. What a hearfelt post and my eyes are quite teary right now but also happy that you posted about your wonderful father and letting everyon know how great he was. I am sure that he is flying above and watching over you always. This chicken looks and sound simply supreme - a must try!

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    1. Oh thank you Lisa. It's how I always imagine him doing now. Flying above and watching over us. :-)

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  9. What a beautiful tribute to you father. I'm still wiping the tears out of my eyes. Lovely post. Hugs to you!

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  10. I am thinking of you today, as we celebrate Father's Day here in the States, Rowena. There's nothing like losing a parent too soon, my heart is with you. I'm sure he is watching over you and so proud of you, as you are of him :) xo

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    1. Thank you Liren. Maybe soon I will learn to celebrate Father's Day again.

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  11. My tears almost come down reading your very sentimental post today. I didn't know about your dad and such a hardship you went through back then. What a great person we lost. Your father's picture made my heart so tight and I felt so close to him in a way. You have become strong to write this beautiful post, Weng. He must be so proud of you, a great mom of two and wife, and amazing blogger!

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    1. Oh Nami. I don't think he would recognize me anymore. From a rather spoiled child to a different woman I have become. Yes, I am sure he would have been proud of how I had become. Thanks to his influence as a great father.

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