“If you can boil water, you can cook anything.” This is what I taught my sons when they were learning how to cook. At that time, they thought I was kidding and looked at me puzzled. A few years after, I proved I was right when I showed them how to cook the most basic Filipino dish ~ Nilagang Manok, or Boiled Chicken.
You must have noticed I’ve been doing a succession of easy dishes the last few posts. That’s because the weather has warmed up in our corner here, and so we’ve had more time to enjoy the outdoors and do fun stuff. When this happens, it’s time to take out the file of ‘easy recipes’ for any night of the week.
Nilagang Manok (say ‘nee-lah-gang mah-nok’) is so easy and basic, yet one of the most comforting meals I have served the family. The Tagalog word ‘nilaga’ means boiled, and of course ‘manok’ translates to chicken.
This soft stewed chicken in a simple broth flavored with fish sauce, scallions and large onions is splendid poured on a bed of steaming white rice. I religiously like to mash my boiled potatoes within the dish, and let it mix happily with the soft chicken, the soupy broth and the plump rice grains.
No other dish has made my life as a mom so easy on any day I want to feed my family a good home cooked meal. Pardon me as I go ladle some marvelous soup broth onto the hungry bowls that await at our table tonight!
One of the most basic Filipino soup meals is the Nilagang Manok, which translates to boiled chicken. The clear chicken broth is flavored with fish sauce, scallions and onions. You can be as versatile as you want with this dish, by adding quartered potatoes, carrots and green beans. Once the chicken is soft and tender, there’s no telling if there will be any leftovers around after this dish is served. This recipe is good for 4 servings.
- Chicken, whole or cut up - about 4 to 5 pounds
- white onions - 2 whole, sliced
- garlic - 4 cloves, minced
- fresh ginger - 1/2 teaspoon, minced
- scallions or green onions - 1/2 cup, chopped fine, white parts only
- vegetable or cooking oil - 4 Tablespoons
- fish sauce or Filipino patis - 2 Tablespoons
- rice wash - 2 cups, obtained from water after washing the rice
- chicken broth - 4 cups, canned or homemade
- salt - 1 teaspoon
- whole black peppercorns - 1 teaspoon
- fresh ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- boiled white rice - for serving
- Prepare whole or cut up chicken by washing the pieces well and pat dry with paper towels.
- Have some rice wash ready for the chicken broth by setting aside the water used from pre-washing the boiled rice. (I have written about this in a previous blog post and is one of the simplest and best ways to cook a hearty, flavorful soup broth).
- In a large stock pot, over medium high heat, add the vegetable or cooking oil. Add the garlic, onions, ginger, scallions and fish sauce of Filipino patis. Let this cook for 2 to 3 minutes till onions soften and fish sauce flavor sets in.
- Add rice wash and broth, making sure to cover the chicken pieces. Season with salt, whole pepper corns and black pepper powder. Let the broth boil at high heat, then lower to medium. Cover and cook till the chicken is soft and tender for about 55 minutes. At the last 20 minutes, add the potatoes and carrots. Add the green beans at the last 10 minutes. Serve hot with boiled jasmine white rice.
- Cook’s comments: if you want to make life easy, cook this Nilagang Manok in a slow cooker or crock pot. I use my slow cooker measuring about 4 ½ quarts for this amount of chicken and ingredients, on a High setting, for 6 hours. If cooking in a slow cooker, I add the potatoes and carrots at the last hour, the green beans at the last 30 minutes.
- How to make rice wash: click on this link to see my previous blog post.