I have been experimenting with Filipino food, it is a cuisine that I love but find it hard to cook because of the long list of hard-to-find ingredients. However, I look for substitutions or keep looking for the speciality ingredients when I can. There is almost no Filipino food in India so it is a challenge.
There are a class of dishes called escabeches. These are foods, usually meats that are cooked in a sauce with vinegar, or other sour agents that pickle the foods as they cook and are flavoured lightly with traditional spices. The word is derived from the Arabic word al-skepaj, and the cooking technique originated in the Persian world. It spread to Portugal and Spain with the Moors and then was carried to all the countries that the Spanish conquered including the Philippines, Latin America and Argentina where dishes took on local spices and ingredients. They also brought this technique to India as the famous vindaloo curry.
This is a very delicate escabeche with subtle but bright flavours. Turmeric is the main taste profile, so it is important to use fresh turmeric rather than powder. The mushrooms add an earthy flavour to the dish enriching it and adding lovely nuances. The chicken is soft and fall-off-the-bone-tender and has absorbed the flavours of the stew. This is a dish subtle and lovely and should be accompanied by some sautèed greens and/or roasted vegetables.
This cookbook has been one that has been hiding on my shelf and I am glad I finally took it out and made something from it. It is a wonderful cookbook on authentic Filipino cuisine, full of recipes and wonderful photographs. These islands have a very unique cuisine, one that I have had at restaurants and friends' houses. Here is a start to my delving deeper into this cuisine. The chefs, Kim and Miguel have 2 New York restaurants (Maharlika and Jeepney) and are both very actively involved in promoting Filipino food in the US. The Bay Area where I used to live had a vivid Filipino restaurant scene with amazing food.
For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.
2 tablespoons oil
2 lb bone-in chicken legs and thighs, segmented, or pieces of your choice
1 white onion, finely diced
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh turmeric, pounded to a paste in a mortar, or 1.2 teaspoon powder
3 cups chicken stock or water
1/2 cup coconut vinegar, see note
1 cup white button mushroom, quartered
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Note: If you do not have coconut vinegar, and do not want to buy this ingredient, use rice wine vinegar and a teaspoon of coconut oil.
Heat the oil in a wide pan and fry the chicken pieces 3 at a time. Do not overcrowd the pan as the chicken will steam rather than fry. Remove and set aside when well browned.
Add the onions and garlic to the same pan and fry in the oil remaining on low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the turmeric and cook for 1 minute if using fresh, or 10 seconds if using the powder.
Add the chicken back into the pot with the water/stock and vinegar. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer on low heat with a tight-fitting lid for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken occasionally to get it to cook on all sides.
Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, top up with water if needed, and cook for another 15 minutes till the mushrooms are soft and tender. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Serve hot with sticky rice, preferably jasmine, or egg noodles.