This week Budgie shows us a classic example of ‘Inihaw’, a type of Filipino street food cooked on a bamboo skewer directly over hot coals. These sweet and tangy pork skewers are marinated then served with a dipping sauce to add a seriously punchy flavour. This dish can also be considered a Pulutan style meal - a style of savoury finger food traditionally eaten at the side of the road with an ice cold beer.
Meat - Effectively spit roasted meat kebabs, the beauty of this dish comes from rapidly cooking meat at a high temperature. The meat Budgie uses here is a mixture of Pork shoulder and neck which is a cut with a decent amount of fat marbled through it. This will stop the meat form drying out on the grill despite rendering quite a lot out on to the coals. The idea here is for the liquid fat to run off the skewer and onto the coals, becoming vapour and cooking intense smoky flavour back onto the meat. Inihaw dishes usually have the meat in question cut into bit sized cubes so that they can be torn off in one bite!
Marinade - Inihaw dishes tend to have a flavourful marinade for the meat that is then brushed over the skewer as it cooks. In a similar vain to Southern barbecue in the US, the flavourful sauce is lacquered onto the meat, which allows for the sugars to caramelise fully without burning. This means the sauce adheres to the meat closely and mixes with the fat that is rendered through the cooking process. The marinade that Budgie uses here uses bright tangy flavours, with the sweetness that Filipino food is known for. He brings this to the fore with the classic soft drink 7up!
Grill - if you walk the streets of downtown Manila, it won’t take you long before you find an Inihaw vendor with a hibachi style grill and a handheld reed fan, whipping up the coals until they’re white hot. The Inihaw grills of the Philippines almost always use coal as fuel, as it provides an even heat to cook the meat skewers to perfection. A good tip for coal grilling at home is to have a hot section for searing and producing colour, while also leaving a warm section with less of the coals to finish off the skewers with out overcooking them.
Meat - The Inihaw grills of the Philippines are a true testament to the ‘nose to tail’ ethos with every cut of meat imaginable on show. If you really want to feel like you’re in Manila, why not ask your butcher for their selection of offal - with pieces like liver, kidney and even blood pudding often selling out in minutes. However, if you’re a little bit more squeamish - chicken thighs, beef skirt steak or lamb will all work well when cooked over high heat due to their fat marbling. The Philippines is surrounded by water so you can take inspiration and go for seafood options like squid or fish.
Marinade - the basis of the marinade is essentially a salty element (soy sauce), a sweet element (banana ketchup / 7up) and a sour element (Kalamansi juice). All of these ingredients can be swapped out depending on your preference and what’s available to you. To achieve a balanced marinade, that will complement the protein you have chosen, you will want to to balance the sweet, sour and salty flavours. Try swapping out 7up for coca cola, or change out kalamansi juice for a different citrus flavour.