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Chicken Oil for the Soul: A Look at the Condiment We Love

July 21, 2014

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that if you’re a fan of Pepper.ph, you’re also probably guilty of drowning your rice in this glorious condiment (or sauce? A dressing, maybe?). While I may not be able to remember the first time I tried chicken oil, a visit to any inasal joint is now never complete without it.

In honor of this wonderful liquid, let’s take a look at how it’s made and how best to enjoy chicken oil with our meals.

History

Chicken inasal is cooked very differently from your usual chicken barbecue. For one, it’s basted using oil that’s been steeped in achuete and garlic, giving it its distinct color and aroma. It’s this same oil that we see together with the bottles of soy sauce and vinegar on the tables of an inasal restaurant.

Chicken Oil-02

Though it’s difficult to trace the origins of chicken oil, it isn’t that far-fetched to think that cooks figured out that they could use of all that fat and skin that they’d take off the meat. I’d like to imagine that those guys trimming the fat just looked at each other one day and said “You know what? Let’s not throw this stuff away, and let’s just cook it!”, with the end results being chicken skin they could snack on all day, and our beloved rendered chicken oil.

Of course, it wouldn’t be too long before those same guys would again look at each other and go “Why are we still buying oil when we can use this stuff instead?” So the rest, is as they say, history, thanks to these enterprising fellows.

How it’s made

If you’d like to have a batch always handy around the house, here are the basic steps to making chicken oil.

Rendering Chicken Fat

Trim excess fat off your chicken. Or, you can stock up on chicken skin instead. (The palengke or talipapa should have this.) Just heat up the skin over low heat to draw out the fat. When the skin is crispy and golden, remove from heat and drain the oil.

Add Achuete and Garlic

Add a tablespoon or so of achuete seeds, and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic to the warm oil. You can also add a bit of salt if you want.

Store It

Bottle it up, and store it in the fridge if you aren’t consuming this right away. It’s best consumed within 3 to 5 days. Removing the solids may help in extending its lifespan, but you’ll sacrifice the taste if you keep it for more than a week.

How to Enjoy It

There is nothing like pouring the oil over a cup of steaming white rice. Let that warmth wake up all the aromatics from the garlic and atchuete, and take a whiff as the steam rises. Enjoy each bite of your inasal with a spoonful of this heavenly mixture.

Chicken Oil-03

While I confess to adding soy sauce to my chicken oil and rice, I’ve been told that it’s actually better with plain salt instead. This gives a more balanced flavor to let the natural essence of the garlic and atchuete really come through.
Just leave your chicken oil on your rice however, and don’t pour it over the inasal. The meat’s already been basted with the stuff, and you’re bound to overload your palate with flavor if you add more oil. Always go for freshly made chicken oil if you can. Check by smelling the oil. If it’s still pungent with garlic and atchuete, then you’re good to go.

Special thanks to Chef Jayps Anglo of Sarsa Kitchen+Bar for providing the information found here.

How do you enjoy your chicken oil, and where do you go for your fix? Do you also think that the unli-rice and chicken oil combo is a conspiracy to make us all hopelessly fat? Let us know in the comments below!

Nico Goco Nico Goco

Nico is an engineer with a fondness for food, drink, and cooking. This is in serious conflict with his desire to lose weight. Writing is his outlet to make sure the right side of his brain still works. When free, he likes to read, travel, and nurture a dozen different hobbies. He also believes that the perfect fried chicken is the cure to anything.

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13 comments in this post SHOW

13 responses to “Chicken Oil for the Soul: A Look at the Condiment We Love”

  1. hehehe says:

    How can we extend the lifespan of the oil (so it stays good even after more than a week)? Freezing perhaps?

    • Nico Goco says:

      i’d say just stock it in the fridge. but the aromatics may go stale after a week or so. it won’t taste terrible, just not as good as the freshly made stuff. 🙂

      • ronki says:

        I wonder how ‘fresh’ is the chicken oil in the inasal store. M.I.? I tried smelling it, smelled like stale oil already but when you put it over steaming rice, it’s still good.

  2. Kars Pangan Sarmiento says:

    Love that title! 😀

  3. Volts Sanchez says:

    That stuff is killer. But so damn good.

  4. Lee says:

    Anoint the steaming mound of rice with chicken oil. Prepare a dipping sauce. Contemplate on the lovely charred chicken pieces.

  5. Ricci says:

    Can you do this with Bacon fat also?

    • Nico Goco says:

      i’d think so, although i really can’t say what it would taste like. you may want some herbs and other aromatics to just balance all that richness. let us know how it goes, though!

  6. lurker says:

    Yay welcome back Nico! I’m glad you’re back, Pepper.ph has been a little saccharine as of late

  7. Zaela says:

    One steaming white rice + chicken oil + rock salt + pechopak + bottle of coke please! Ahhh students usually flock the inasal stall at our school cafeteria during break time. And all of that for only 35php! Student-budget indeed 😉

  8. giles says:

    i wish i had this in hawaii where i live i miss inasal stalls and chicken oil with my rice

  9. Jay Yuki says:

    Yes… More of this lovely stuff… 😀
    Kanin pa lang parang ulam na…

  10. Anthony says:

    My friend who works in M.I. gave me a pack of chicken oil and I had it for more than a week. I put it in a bottled container (San Miguel gin bottle) and now I noticed it has blobs of oil (like “tulog na mantika”) I am thinking of discarding it now.
    I wonder how could I prolong the shelf life of the chicken oil?

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