It is once again time to cook with my Filipino fellow foodies at the Kulinarya Cooking Club. Our hosts for this month, Abigail of My Nappy Tales and Marni of Kensington Kitchen chose a lovely theme for the month of February. The task is to cook a dish that reminds one of one's first love.
I seem to be too old to remember the first real love. So I just had to think long and hard but can only think of one, just the one. It just has to be my husband. I'm not saying this because he reads the blog but because it is the feeling that I remember well.
My husband is not a Filipino but a pure Chinese from Malaysia. When he first visited the Philippines, he immediately fell in love with the cuisine. Among his favourites were crispy pata (crisp fried pork shank), bulalo (bone marrow soup), kari-kari (a stew with peanut gravy), grilled pork, clam soup, everything with ube (purple yam), mangoes, the list goes on and on. One dish, though, stands out. It is lechon manok. This is the poultry counterpart of roast pig. Lechon manok is Filipino rotisserie chicken cooked in an outdoor pit. As with all of our food, it is well seasoned and very tasty. Every time we visit home, there is a lechon manok on the dining table to welcome him.
Although cooked on a spit, lechon manok is so unlike rotisserie chicken. It has an aroma and taste that it quintessentially Filipino. I haven't yet come across a recipe that gives out the secret of the famous Andok's (a famous chain) lechon manok but this is my way of cooking it. What I'm going for is a very fragrant and extremely tasty chicken that is evocative of warm climes and rural settings.
My method of cooking lechon manok is nothing like the usual way it is cooked. After seasoning the chicken, I wrap it in banana leaves and kitchen foil before roasting. The cavity is also stuffed with garlic, ginger and pandan leaves. This results to a highly scented, flavourful and succulent chicken. Instead of the usual liver sauce that it is usually served with I opted for a fresher, zestier sauce using his favourite fruit: mango. I hope people get to like this recipe because my husband wishes to open up a lechon manok chain in the future.
Ingredients for the roast chicken:
1 whole chicken
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
a few slices of ginger
3 pandan leaves, knotted
Mix the soy sauce, salt, garlic powder, turmeric and lime juice. Rub the mixture all over the chicken, including the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the garlic, ginger slices and pandan leaves. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400° F / 200° C. Lay the banana leaves on top of a big sheet of aluminum foil. Lay the chicken on top of the banana leaves, rub with the 1 tbsp. of oil and wrap with the leaves then wrap tightly with the sheet of aluminum foil. Lay the wrapped chicken on a baking rack in a roasting tin. Add water to the tin so that the drippings don't burn.
Bake for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350° F/ 180° C.
Open the chicken parcel. Cook for a further 50-60 minutes, turning at half time to brown the other side of the chicken. Brush with the drippings occasionally.
The chicken can also be cooked in a lidded barbecue instead of the oven for the last hour. Use a grilling tray so the chicken doesn't stick to the grilles.
Let rest before chopping into serving pieces.
Ingredients for the mango-lime chilli sauce:
1 1/4 c. pure mango juice
juice and grated rind of 1 lime
5 tsps. white sugar
2 tsps. corn flour1 tbsp. water
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 red fingr chilli, chopped
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
4 tsps. fish sauce
Put the mango and lime juice and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar melts. Disperse the corn flour in the water and add to the mixture in the saucepan to thicken. Leave to simmer for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and bring back to a boil. Take off the heat and transfer to a jug or gravy boat to stop it cooking further. Serve with the chicken.
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