The Filipino street food tradition of the ihawan or barbecue stall is found all over the country and people flock to taste inihaw – the all-purpose name for barbecued meat. Expatriate Regina Meehan (from Olongapo City in the Zambales province) has brought the concept to Australia with her husband, James at the pumping Hoy Pinoy stall at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets where the chicken inasal is as popular as the lemongrass-marinated suckling pig or lechon.






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (43 votes)


  • 6 chicken leg quarters


Annatto oil

  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) annatto (atchuete) seeds
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf


Marinade sauce

  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 90 ml (3 fl oz) calamansi or lime juice
  • 3 lemongrass stems, crushed
  • 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) sugarcane vinegar
  • 1½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp salt and pepper
  • 90 ml (3 fl oz) annatto oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 12 hours

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day in advance. 

First up, prepare the annatto oil. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the annatto seeds, garlic and bay leaf. Turn off the heat when it starts to bubble. Allow the oil to sit for 2 hours and cool down. Store in an airtight container. 

Mix all the marinade ingredients together thoroughly and set aside. Prepare the chicken by cutting the leg quarters into pieces around 5 cm (2 in) x 5 cm (2 in). Combine half the marinade with the chicken pieces in a container, cover and marinate for 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Place the other half of the marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for the basting sauce.

Take the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator and thread 3–4 pieces on each skewer. 

Cook over a charcoal barbecue or grill, regularly basting with the remaining marinade. Baste generously again just before serving.


This is an edited extract from Food Safari Fire (Hardie Grant, hbk, $55), by Maeve O’Meara, with photography by Alan Benson. 


View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.