Famed Filipino flavour

Yes, it’s true. This meal outranks the chicken made by the Colonel, whoever he may be. For South Africans like us, the taste gives a whole new meaning to chicken.

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To make General McArthur’s famous Filipino chicken dish for four to six diners, you will need:

2kg of chicken thighs and drumsticks
1,5 cups of rice vinegar
A quarter cup of soya sauce
4 seriously hot chillies
8 to 12 cloves of garlic, depending on size
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup of coconut cream

Yes, it’s true. This meal outranks the chicken made by the Colonel, whoever he may be. Filipino food is truly a fusion delight, with its radical mix of Spanish, Chinese and local Filipino flavours.
For South Africans like us, the taste gives a whole new meaning to chicken. Not only that, but it’s a cinch to cook too.

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We begin with the chicken pieces. Removal of the skin is optional. Cut deep grooves in the thickest part of each thigh and drumstick. This accelerates the marinating process. Crush, peel and mince the garlic. This is no time for tentative gestures: go for the whole dozen cloves. Coarsely chop the chillies, noting that removing the pips will diminish the heat.

Getting saucy
Select a ceramic or glass dish for the marinade. Vinegar, which constitutes a large part of the mixture, will react chemically with a metal dish, producing unacceptable off-flavours. For this dish, rice vinegar is a non-negotiable requirement, as it has a distinct flavour and aroma. It’s easy to find in Asian supermarkets.

Generally speaking, soya sauce comes in two basic forms: light and dark. Dark, dense soya sauce works best with this recipe and due to its inherent saltiness, no extra salt is required by either the cook or the diners. Canned coconut liquid is described as either coconut milk or coconut cream. This dish requires coconut cream, which is thick and, well, how can I put this, creamy.

Put the soya sauce, rice vinegar, chopped chillies, minced garlic, black pepper, bay leaves and coconut cream in the glass/ceramic dish and mix the ingredients well. Lower the slashed chicken sections into the marinade and turn them a couple of times to ensure they’re coated on all surfaces. Cover the dish with clingwrap and leave it to spend the night the fridge. If time is short and you want the meal right now, a minimum of two hours marinating is sufficient.

Back to the chicken
Decant the chicken sections and the marinade into a large, lidded pot and bring this to a rolling boil on the hob. Once the liquid is boiling, lower the temperature just enough to maintain a busy simmer. Stir from time to time. The chicken should be tender after half an hour or so. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken sections and reserve under cover. Bring the pot back to a rolling boil and reduce the liquid until it’s thick and creamy. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Heat up the grill in your oven. Arrange the chicken pieces on a roasting pan and grill them for a maximum of five minutes. Turn the pieces and baste with some of the thickened sauce. Give them another three minutes or so under the grill, then return them to the original pot with the thickened sauce. Heat this up to bubbling point, then remove and serve on rice with a spoon or two of the sauce. This spicy, saucy, chilli-enhanced meal demands a couple of ultra-chilled lagers.