Probably one of the easiest to cook, and one of the most popular of all Filipino dishes. This easily becomes a favorite as it is a complete meal by itself. Perfect for those who wish to nurse their children back to health, or as comfort food during rainy days. Great for hangovers too.
My wife loves watercress with this dish, and I remember looking forward to Monday mornings while I was in Manila since that’s when the delivery of watercress from Baguio arrives in the market where I go to. Meanwhile, unripe papaya works best for free range/native chicken since it serves as a meat tenderizer. Tastes good too.
- 1 kilo of chicken cuts. Native chicken is king here, but might take longer to cook. Go for the free range chicken. But don’t sweat it, any chicken will do.
- Unripe papaya, or chayote (sayote).
- Ginger root, a thumb or more, chopped into strips
- Medium Onion, chopped
- Garlic, chopped
- A cup or more of leafy greens like sili leaves, malunggay, watercress, or spinach
- Siling mahaba/ green chili, if you have it.
- 4-5 cups of water. You may use water from the second washing of your rice.
- Pepper. For an extra kick of chicken, use one chicken bullion cube, but do away with it when serving it to kids.
- Patis or fish sauce
- Tanglad (lemon grass) to make it more fragrant. Just a few leaves.
In a pot, or casserole, or wok (must have a lid), heat some oil and saute garlic, ginger and onions. Once soft, add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Season with 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and cook for 3 minutes more. Add water, let it boil, then simmer until chicken is half-done. Add the papaya or chayote, tanglad, and siling mahaba and simmer further until soft. Season with pepper and more fish sauce depends on how salty you want it to be (but please, go easy). Remove from heat, put in the leafy veggies, and put back the lid until it gets cooked with the remaining heat. Serve hot and enjoy!