I found this recipe from Reynaldo Alejandro’s The Food of the Philippines where it says that this was a favorite of Bill Clinton when he visited Manila. Alejandro also says that this comes from coconut-producing regions of the Philippines. It is very easy to do but the ingredients are somewhat hard to find in the diaspora. I made do with substitutes and modifications … and well, the result was not bad.
- one whole chicken, cut into pieces, Asian or Filipino style; recipe asks for deboning the meat, but I was too lazy to do that
- garlic (I like a lot, like 5 cloves), crushed
- medium sized onion, chopped
- ginger slices (since I didn’t have fresh ginger, I used powdered ginger, about half a table spoon)
- lemongrass (I didn’t have fresh tanglad so I made do with dried)
- chicken broth (recipe asks for broth made from the bones that you removed from the meat, presumably, but I used commercially prepared broth, it’s easier that way)
- coconut meat and water – this is the one that needs a little bit of planning; I did find fresh young coconut at the Vietnamese store, so I used this BUT if you don’t have access to a store that sells young coconuts, maybe coconut flakes will do
- cilantro (I didn’t have cilantro so I used kinchay which I had for some reason. Kinchay is basically Chinese celery which is more pungent than regular celery.)
vegetable oil (I am partial to olive oil)
- salt and pepper
Heat oil in a saucepan and saute garlic, onion and ginger, then add lemon grass and salt and pepper. After a few minutes of sauteing, add chicken pieces and chow them until they’re a little bit cooked and brown (actually white as chicken meat turns white when cooked).
Add chicken broth – I used a quart of ready-made broth – and then simmer for about half an hour or so. Then add coconut meat and water. Season with more salt and pepper to taste – this step, by the way, is very important. Sea salt, if you have, really gives this soup dish the pow wow wow taste.
Serve hot garnished with cilantro (or as in my case, kinchay) leaves and with a side dish of a simple vegetable (steamed broccolli in the picdture) and of course, steaming hot rice.
Langhapin mo, baby!