Pakam na Manok (Chicken stewed in Ginger)

I know that not a lot are familiar with Pakam. I believe this is a regional dish from the province of Bulacan. However, this is also well known in the Navotas/Malabon area where my family comes from. The reason maybe because of its proximity to Bulacan. My grandparents from both maternal and paternal side makes this dish using either chicken or beef.

It is fairly simple to prepare. First, heat a pan and add 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Then saute 1 thumbsized piece of ginger cut into slivers, 1 medium sized finely chopped onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and aromatic. Add 2 chopped roma tomatoes and cook until softened and has released its juices. Then add your chicken pieces (I used 1.5 lb bone in chicken thighs). Stir until the chicken are coated with the aromatics. Season with 2 tbsp. white vinegar preferably cane vinegar and 2 tbsp. fish sauce. Lower the heat, cover and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. You will know when its done when the sauce is reduced and has considerably thickened.

Ladle into bowls and serve with rice.



Filipino Sopas from leftover Turkey

The day after thanksgiving I always make soup from the turkey carcass. It’s always the Filipino style chicken noodle soup or what we call “Sopas”. I just place the bones in a big stock pot and cover it with water and add celery, carrots and onion and let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Then I strain the broth and set this aside. Before throwing away the the bones make sure to pick the meat from it.

In another pot saute 2-3 cloves minced garlic and 1 medium chopped white onion in some olive oil. Cook until translucent and vegetables are soft. Then add 1/2 cup diced carrots and a cup of diced leftover turkey meat (I use white meat) and the meat picked from the bones. Stir until just combined. Place half a box of pasta, I like to use elbow macaroni but I didn’t have any, so I used penne or whatever you have on hand. Shell shaped pasta is also a good choice and my mom’s preference. Stir again until pasta is coated with the oil and then add enough water to cover everything approx. 5-6 cups. Let this come to a boil then lower the heat and let simmer until pasta is done around 9-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add 3/4 – 1 cup milk and some shredded napa cabbage. Simmer until the milk is heated through and vegetable is crisp tender.



Chicken Nilaga (Filipino Chicken Soup)

Chicken Nilaga I think was the very first dish I learned to cook. It is the easiest I think because it’s just practically boiling meat and adding vegetables. Making a flavorful and tasty Nilaga is another matter.

I make nilaga during the Autumn and Winter season when the weather is a lot cooler. Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a cold night. Since our weather is starting to get chilly, I made some chicken nilaga for dinner.

First, make sure to use bone in chicken to create a flavorful broth, I prefer to use thighs or drumstick. Place your chicken pieces in a deep pot and add enough water just to cover the meat. Add 1 medium chopped white onion and some peppercorns (if you don’t have peppercorns ground pepper will do). Let this come to a boil then lower the heat and let simmer covered until chicken is tender. Don’t forget to remove scum. Then add your vegetable of choice, you can use white cabbage, napa cabbage, boy choy and even broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Filipinos by the way like to season this with fish sauce. For this recipe I used napa cabbage, chayote and carrots. Cook until vegetables are crisp tender, I don’t like my vegetables to be mushy or too soft.

Ladle in deep bowls and serve with rice. My family eats this with a dipping sauce of lime or lemon and soy sauce. Traditionally Filipinos would use fish sauce and calamansi as dipping sauce.



Chicken Kare-Kare

Leftover rotisserie chicken in our household often turns to chicken noodle soup or the Filipino style sopas. Sometimes, when the mood strikes I make some kind of pasta dish out of it. Those didn’t quite appeal to me this time.

Kare-Kare was in my menu for the week but I was hesitant to make a new dish since we still have leftover roast chicken. This was where inspiration struck. Making Kare-Kare usually starts with boiling some kind of meat, what is great with this recipe is that your cooking time get’s shortened. You don’t have to wait for the meat to become tender since your chicken is already fully cooked.

I just placed the leftover chicken, bone and all in a medium sized pot and added water until it’s almost covered. Then added 1 onion peeled and cut in half and let this simmer for like 15 minutes. I removed the chicken and cut it into manageable pieces and strained the broth and set these aside.

In a deep pot heat some achuete oil and sauté one diced onion and 2-3 cloves of finely minced garlic. Let this cook until fragrant. Then add about 4-5 cups of your broth and let this come to a boil. Add 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter diluted in some of the broth and stir until dissolved. Season with salt or fish sauce to taste. Add your vegetable starting with the longest to cook, in my case I added the cabbage, yard beans and eggplant in that order. I also made a cornstarch slurry to thicken the broth a bit.

To serve, arrange your chicken pieces in a deep bowl, then add your vegetables before adding your broth or sauce over it. This is typically served with shrimp paste on the side and eaten with steamed white rice.

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Tinolang Manok (Lemongrass and Ginger Chicken Soup)

This is considered a classic Filipino dish, it’s simple yet flavorful. The original recipe does not include lemongrass, I just added it because I love it’s aroma and flavor and I know it will go well with ginger.

To make, heat a medium sized pan with about 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Add 1 stalk lemon grass that has been smashed and 1 thumb sized ginger cut into slivers, saute until fragrant. Then add 1 medium sized chopped onion and cook until transluscent. To this add 1.5 lbs skinless chicken thighs (or any cut of boned in chicken). Note: Removing the skin is my personal preference, you don’t have to use skinless chicken. Continue cooking until the meat loses it’s pink color. Season with 1-2 tbsp. fish sauce and several dashes of black pepper.

Place 5-6 cups water and let this come to a boil. Don’t forget to remove any scum that forms on top. Then lower the heat and let this simmer until chicken is done. Add your sayote (chayote) and cook until tender. Then add your malunggay leaves, stir and cover then turn off heat. You can substitute spinach in place of malunngay leaves.

We usually eat this with rice and a dipping sauce of soy and lemon though some prefer fish sauce and lemon.



Chicken Adobo

If you are Filipino, you probably grew up eating adobo. This is a staple in most Filipino homes and each family usually have their own way of preparing it. As I have mentioned before this is flavored by a combination of soy sauce and vinegar. To make this recipe work you need to get the Filipino brand soy sauce, I use Lauriat because this is what my mom and grandma has been using. There are different brands of Filipino soy sauce in the market and you can choose any you like. For the vinegar, you need to use cane vinegar, the most popular Filipino brand in the market is Datu Puti. This is just my own personal taste, you can use any brand cane vinegar you can find.

To make, place 1.5 lb chicken thighs (preferably bone-in) in a pan. To this add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vinegar, 6-8 cloves smashed, 1 tsp. ground black pepper (you can use black peppercorns) and 2 bay leaves. It is better if you let the chicken marinate for at least one hour. But if you don’t have the time you can just immediately cook this over medium heat. Let it come to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for a couple of minutes before covering and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes. Check your meat after 15 minutes, add about 1/4 cup water if you think it’s drying out. When meat is done, turn off heat and remove chicken from sauce. Get a non-stick frying pan and add a bit of oil. Fry your chicken until nice and brown on both sides. This is entirely optional but I like to add mushrooms to my adobo, so what I do is take a can of drained sliced mushrooms (fresh white mushrooms is better) and cook it in a little oil until brown before adding this to the pan with the chicken and sauce. Let this cook until sauce has thickened a bit, this will only take a few minutes so better watch your pan.

Serve immediately with steamed white rice. This actually taste so much better the day after so make sure you have leftovers.



Five Spice Meat Roll (Quekiam)

Five Spice Meat Roll is a dish that is usually served in Hokkien speaking parts of Asia. It is known as Ngoh Hiang in Singapore, Loh Bak in Malaysia, Quekiam in the Philippines and Gohyong in Indonesia. It is made up of a mixture of ground meat (usually pork and shrimps) and spices and then wrapped in bean curd sheet.

I remember the only time we would have this is when my parents would get some from our favorite Chinese deli in Greenhills.

Since, this isn’t something that I can easily get my hands on here in the Northeast, what I did is make my own. Reading through several recipes proved it’s not that hard to make.

First, mix together 1 lb ground turkey(recipe called for ground pork), 1 medium sized finely chopped onion, 1 medium sized finely chopped carrot (I shredded mine), 2 tbsp. finely chopped Chinese Celery (I did not have green onions), 1/2 tsp. five spice powder (recipe called for 1 tsp but I personally find this spice too strong so I cut it in half), 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 egg.


Cut your bean curd sheet into small rectangles and wipe each piece with a damp cloth. Place your meat filling at the bottom and pull up the bean curd sheet over and tuck in the sides then continue rolling. Seal the edges with beaten egg white. Repeat, until you have used up all your filling.

Place your meat roll in a lightly oiled steamer and steam for around 8-10 minutes until bean curd sheet turns translucent and meat is done. Remove from steamer and let it cool down.


Heat non-stick frying pan with about 1 inch of oil and fry each meat roll until golden brown and crisp. Cut at a bias and serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce.



Chicken Inasal (Bacolod style grilled chicken)

Inasal means to roast in the Visayan dialect of the Philippines. It is also derived from the Spanish word asar meaning to grill. Chicken inasal was popularized in Bacolod city the capital of Negros Occidental located in the central part of the country. What differentiates it from other barbecued meats is the use cane or coconut vinegar in the marinade and annatto oil giving it the orange hue its known for.

We were first introduced to this dish in 2006 when we visited Manila and ate at the chain restaurant Bacolod Chicken Inasal. I believe we ate there three times during our stay. Upon our return to the Northeast I searched the web for recipes of chicken inasal and tried recreate this dish. This is I what came up with. I’ve been making this every Summer which is grill season for us.

First, make the annatto oil by placing in a saucepan the following 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 tbsp. annatto seeds, a clove of garlic and a bay leaf. Place this over medium heat and wait until the oil changes to a deep orange color. Strain the oil and set aside to cool.

Prepare your marinade by combining the following in a bowl : 5 garlic cloves minced, thumb sized ginger cut into slivers, 2 lemongrass stalks smashed and sliced into 1 inch lengths, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cane or coconut vinegar, 1 tbsp. kosher salt and 1tsp. ground pepper. Place 2 lbs. chicken thighs (rinsed and patted dry) in a freezer bag and pour in your marinade plus 4 tbsp of the annatto oil that you prepared. Place this in the refrigerator and allow to marinate overnight.

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and prepare your grill. Once it’s ready grill your chicken skin side up for 20 minutes under indirect heat. Then baste it with your annatto oil and turn over and grill for another 15 minutes. Baste again before it’s done to make sure you get the deep orange color.

Serve your chicken with steamed white rice and a dipping sauce of white vinegar and chili flakes.




Oven-Fried Chicken

This is a very easy recipe for those of you like me, who love fried chicken but hate frying, the spatters and the messy clean up after.

I have been making fried chicken this way since my kids were little. I find it hassle free and would not require you to be at the stove 100% of the time.

Make sure to use bone in chicken for this recipe. I used chicken thighs and marinated it with the juice of one lemon and about 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper for an hour in the refrigerator. Overnight would be ideal.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Place 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp paprika in a ziplock bag and shake to combine. Add your chicken pieces to the bag with seasoned flour one at a time to coat evenly.

Line your baking tray with heavy duty foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray before placing your chicken on it skin side down. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Turn chicken over half way through cooking time.

In our household we eat fried chicken with steamed rice and ketchup on the side.





Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters

Roast chicken is my go to recipe on a busy school night. My original recipe only uses salt, pepper and garlic powder as seasoning. During a trip to Montreal, I got to taste their Portuguese style roast chicken. It was the best chicken I have ever had. Since then I have searched the web for the closest recipe for it to recreate it’s flavor.

This is my own take on it. I think it needs more spices and garlic but my family loves this so I’m keeping it this way for now.

Season your chicken leg quarters with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder (fresh garlic I think is better), the juice of one lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. Make sure that the chicken is coated really well with the marinade. Bake at 400F for 1 – 1.5 hours until the chicken is brown and crisp.

The Portuguese style roast chicken is usually served with roasted potatoes. I like to serve mine with rice and some greens.