Inihaw is a broad Tagalog term used for anything grilled, in other words, Filipino barbecue. The type you’re making this week is what you’ll typically find served by street food vendors on skewers and are typically marinated and served with an array of dipping sauces. The Philippines is known for its creative use of offal and alternative meat cuts, with common cuts of meat including chicken and pork intestines as well as pig ears, gizzards and livers. Being an archipelago, you’ll also find plenty of seafood being used for Inihaw, including squid and Bangus (milkfish). This is a dish served in small amounts as a key part of the Filipino drinking culture, otherwise known as a pulutan dish, so no matter the combination of ingredients you go for, these skewers will go nicely alongside a cold beer or if you’d prefer something non-alcoholic you can take inspiration from the marinade and combine some calamansi to make a juice drink of your choosing.
Filipino marinades - Learn to create a typical Filipino marinade - using banana ketchup and calamansi.
Sawsawan - Learn one of the key pillars to Filipino cookery with this base dipping sauce called Sawsawan.
Pulutan & Inihaw - Discover how to create an essential pulutan recipe, seen as the Filipino version of tapas. This one falls under the category of Inihaw which are street food snacks grilled over charcoal.
BBQ pork skewers
For the barbecue
1x wooden chopping board, 1x chefs knife, 1x whisk, 1x spatular, 2x mixing bowls, 4x bowls, 1x jar, 1x barbecue, 1x large tray, 1x tongs, 1x pastry brush, food safe firelighters, charcoal
Soak your skewers in water overnight before barbecuing.
So let's start by peeling and prepping our garlic cloves. Chop the garlic lightly, running your knife through into a dice. Sprinkle over some coarse sea salt and then using the side of your knife press and squash the garlic into a paste.
Add the garlic into a large bowl and then the banana ketchup (theres no pretty way of doing this). Next, the datu puti soy sauce, cane vinegar, 7up or lemonade and a little bit of Calamansi juice. From there, some sugar - give that a good whisk so everything is incorporated and the sugar dissolves. Now, give that a little taste. Decant some of the marinade into a smaller bowl for glazing later and then the larger portion for the marination period.
Now, let's get the pork marinading. Remove the skin of the pork belly leaving only the meat behind. Now, dice up the pork into even sized pieces (1.5/2 cm pieces). Once all the pork has been diced, add it into your marinade, mix it through and then leave to sit covered in the fridge for 4 - 6 hours or even over night.
Leave the pork to marinade and then start to create the sawsawan.
Firstly, clean down your board and work area, getting rid of any ingredients you no longer need for the next stage of the recipe. To create our dipping sauce, start by breaking down a red onion and then roughly dice, add to your jar and then get to work on the garlic. As we did earlier, peel and dice the garlic and then slice the chillies. Add to your onions and then add the soy sauce and the vinegar. To the sauce, spoon in some sugar, mix well and then taste. Adjust the sugar to balance out the acidity.
Now close up your sauce and leave to sit for an hour or so.
Now, let's go outside and light our bbq. Once alight leave to come to temperature. Step back into your kitchen and grab the skewers and your marinated pork. We have about 30 minutes until our bbq will be ready and hot so we need to move quickly.
Thread pieces of the pork onto your soaked skewers aiming for 6-8 pieces per skewer. Repeat across all your skewers and marinated pork.
Head back out to your BBQ and using some tongs or a wooden spoon push the coals to one side of the bbq creating a hot zone and a cold zone.
Let's get cooking. So to the hot side of the bbq, place your skewers straight onto the grill (you should hear a nice sizzle). As the pork is cooking, keep brushing over your skewers with your marinade. Begin to turn your pork and cook the skewers on all sides and continue to baste generously. Once we have an even caramelisation all over the skewers move to the cooler side of the grill and leave to finish cooking.
Continue to baste with the marinade until the pork is cooked. Once ready, let's place the skewers onto a board and head back inside.
Onto a serving board or plate, stack your skewers high and serve alongside a bowl of sawsawan and a cold San Miguel.
In Filipino cookery, you're going to be using lots of garlic and the best way to prepare your garlic is:
When creating a garlic paste, sea salt is really effective in helping you get a fine puree. Not only will it season the paste but it will give you an abrasive texture to help give the knife and garlic something to latch onto.
Calamansi is a citrus fruit similar to a lime or lemon. This fruit has a tart juice, starting off as a green fruit and slowly turns yellow-orange as it matures on the tree. In this recipe, look to get already juiced Calamansi if not squeeze 10 fresh whole Calamansi.
We're looking for a balanced flavour with some sweetness, saltiness and sour notes - it should taste refreshing. Adjust the flavour to your own pallet (I added more sugar and Calamansi juice).
Traditionally these acidic liquids are made from vinegar, but marinades have become so much more. All around the world you will see the inclusion of fruit juices, wines and dairy products such as yoghurt and buttermilk.
Their primary function is to prevent spoilage and and provide flavour. Today we use marinades to add flavour and improve their texture (moistness and tenderness). The addition of acidity (in this case Calamansi) begins to weaken the muscle tissue over time so be careful to not overdo it on the acid as you don't want the surface texture to become mushy.
Remove the skin of the pork like you would on a piece of salmon, and then dice evenly - what we are really looking for is a good distribution of meat and fat. With the left over skin use it how you would like but I like to make chicharron out of mine.
Cover the basting sauce and leave in the fridge until needed.
The "lacrimator" (a sulphur chemical in the onion) causes us to cry, this volatile chemical gets released into the air and lands in our eyes and nose when damaged by our knife. This then attacks the nerve endings directly causing our eyes to produce water to try and flush it out. If you are always bothered by this, soak your onions (skin and all) in ice cold water for roughly an hour. This will slow down the reaction of the chemicals that make us cry and also make our onions easier to peel!
Try to make your sawsawan by eye without weighing any of the liquids - this is a great recipe to start training your pallet. Tasting as you go, you will begin to balance the acidity, salt and sweetness of your dipping sauce.
Sawsawan is one of the most important facets of Filipino cookery. It defines the very structure of Filipino culture. It shows us how we adapt, how we change, how we are hospitable, and how we love to please. It is many things all at once, but more importantly, it shows how much of a reflection food is meant to be eaten together.
You can keep your dipping sauce in the fridge for up to three weeks.
When adding your pork to the skewers, leave room at the bottom of your skewer for you to turn them on your bbq.
You may notice a slight difference in the pork once it's marinated - it will have changed colour and also feel more tender.
Pulatan is a type of dish eaten across the Philippines and their food markets. Typically comprised of small plates and dishes. A pulutan dish must be served with an alcoholic drink or typically beer.
Check out Gene's video on Filipino street food in Manila.
Now is a good time to put on your favourite song, my choice would have to be Shook Ones Part 2 by Mobb Deep.
I love cooking this recipe on a bbq, it brings a real smokey flavour to the skewers but if the weather isn't great outside or you don't have your bbq near by. Use a heavy skillet griddle pan and get the temperature nice and hot.
You should begin to see lots of caramelisation on your skewers both from the fat in the pork and also the sugar from your marinade. The more glaze you brush over, the better.
Keep turning the pork until ready - roughly 2 - 3 minutes per-side.
To get your grill hotter, I tend to circulate more air around the coal with a fan or use some cardboard as a fan.
If you have a thermometer probe your pieces of pork looking for 78°C/172°F.
What you are looking for when pressed, is a firm texture with a slight bit of give (it shouldn't be really firm).
Serve straight off the bbq with your sawsawan and a cold drink.