Friday, June 15, 2007

Chili Chicken

title
I’ve already mentioned how I like nicking recipes (or recipe ideas) off restaurant menus…especially when one of their dishes is a favorite and I want to be able to have it any time I please. I’ve also mentioned a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Boracay where we like to eat when we’re on-the-cheap.

The restaurant is Smoke and the dish is Chili Chicken…and finally, after some testing and tweaking, I’ve come up with a close enough version!

I have tried before but the results were never close enough to satisfy, so the last time we were in Boracay I made it a point to have it and dissect it a little bit more. You see, unlike the menus at swankier places, Smoke’s mimeographed take-out sheet does not have extravagant descriptions of their dishes…more’s the pity for recipe-filchers like me.

But I was not to be deterred! Savoring and examining each bite, I did not stop until I felt I had its secret.

And because I like you, I’ll share it…

Chili Chicken
(Thanks Smoke for the inspiration!)

  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons canola oil (or any vegetable oil with no strong flavor)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1-inch stub of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, lower portion only, finely chopped
  • 2 pieces sili labuyo (bird’s eye chili), cut in half (You can use other chilis as well, or vary the amount depending on how much heat you want. I cut them in half because it releases the heat just enough, and you can easily spot them in the dish so there are no “accidents”)
  • 2 tablespoons bagoong (shrimp paste)
  • 3 chicken breast fillets, pounded and cut into cubes
  • Sesame seeds

- Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a wok or kawali (or any old pan). Add the garlic, shallots, ginger, lemongrass, and sili/chili and sauté until shallots soften.
- Add bagoong and sauté for a minute or so.
- Add chicken and fry until cooked through.
- Add sesame seeds, toss a few times, and take off the heat. (I didn’t do this part – next time!)
- Serves 2-3

I didn’t add sesame seeds because I didn’t have any. The original does and I will definitely be adding them the next time I make this. I think cilantro, although not in the original, would make an excellent garnish as well, chopped and sprinkled on top or even whole leaves stirred in at the end of cooking. This is delicious piled on top of steaming rice, just the way Smoke serves it.

I have no idea if this is anywhere near the restaurant’s actual recipe, but it tastes close enough for me. I think a big factor in getting the taste exactly the same would be the bagoong. Unless I find out what kind/brand they use (that will happen on another trip, don’t you worry) there will always be a slight difference in taste. Of course, the upside is that you can use your own favorite bagoong and it will taste even better! There is also the possibility that they don’t use bagoong at all and instead use some sort of small shrimp-fry thing. Hmmm…looks like a quest for another beach-trip! :)

33 comments:

M.Tan said...

When you go to China, particularly Hunan or Sichuan provinces, try their versions of spicy chicken with cashew nuts (gong bao ji ding). It's a very common dish, and easy to find in most chinese restos all over the world, but the way they cook it with the spices they use in China makes it special. It is a combination of a hint of sweetness (caramelization), the fish saltiness, the heat of the chilli, enrobed around the mild/blandness of chicken. Add some cashews for crunch, oh my!

Manggy said...

That looks super. I think I am drawn mostly to the threteaning but seductive chili in the middle. I'm not a big fan of bagoong (mostly due to my mild to strong allergy) but when a dish is spicy, I always expect it to be a bit sweet (I'm not sure how-- probably brown sugar). Anyway, I'd love to try it out someday, thanks!
-- No Special Effects - http://manggy.blogspot.com

Manggy said...

THREATENING. I know how to spell. Grr!

Pille said...

I love identifying the ingredients in the dishes I like in restaurants. Well done for recreating one at home -sounds delicious!

Anh said...

This looks and sounds wonderful. I love anything spicy, and with shrimp paste in it ;). Will make this for dinner soon Joey!

Marketman said...

This looks and sounds great. Reminds me of a pork and bagoong dish I wanted to do...maybe in a few weeks! Hmmm, wonder if we'll get to try this in Boracay...

ChichaJo said...

Hey Mila! That spicy chicken with cashews sounds delicious! Something I would definitely like :) I love sweet/salty/spicy dishes...gosh, I'd love to make it to China one day...

Hi Manggy! Hehe :) I like the mix of sweet and spicy...although this doesn't have any sweet in it...hmmm, another idea! :) (I am a horrid speller so don't worry about spelling around me)

Hi Pille! Thanks! :) I like doing that too...I'm no expert, but it's always a fun challenge, and then you have a nice meal as a result :)

Hi Anh! Thanks and hope you like it! I also love shrimp paste...we use it a lot here :)

Hi Marketman! It's a little hole-in-the-wall place in the palengke part behind d'Mall...value for money rice meals and tasty too :) I'll be looking forward to reading about that pork and bagoong dish!

Meeta said...

Oh boy joey this sounds so great. i wish you had posted this yesterday. I've already been grocery shopping for the weekend BOOHOO! But I guess I'll be giving it a go soon. The picture is great!

veron said...

OMG, this sounds so yummy! Now only if the hubby will let me cook the bagoong in the house ...he..he. Thanks for sharing this.

Kalyn said...

It sounds very good. I haven't cooked with shrimp paste, but I've been keeping a list for the Asian market so I will look for it when I go there. It sounds like a useful ingredient for lots of stir-fry dishes. Love the idea of cutting the chiles in half so you can spot them. I like a bit of chile, but I can be a wimp too.

Deborah said...

This sounds so good!! I don't know if I would be able to find shrimp paste, but I will start looking!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, I definitely like the looks of that dish! It sounds gorgeous...

ChichaJo said...

Hi Meeta! Thank you! :) I hope you like it! It's really easy to make and very tasty...

Hi Veron! Thanks :) I know what you mean...it leaves quite the aroma ;)

Hi Kalyn! Shrimp paste adds such a kick to a dish...I love it! We use it as a condiment as well. Our sili labuyo here packs quite the wicked punch and I've been burned by even tiny pieces, so I leave them in half because it lets the heat out but at the same time you can spot them and fish them out easily :) This was a lesson borne from painful experience...

Hi Deborah! You should be able to find it in an Asian grocery, and definitely at a Filipino one :)

Thanks Rosa! :)

ces said...

i can feel the heat in this dish! interesting! i also try to do that, when i like a particular dish, i try to recreate it in my own kitchen...saves us lots of bucks too, huh?

Barbara said...

It looks and sounds delicious Joey

christine said...

This sounds so good! I never tried the original version but I have no doubt you matched it at the very least, maybe even tasting better than Bora's. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ces! You bet! And you can tweak it to fit your palate even more :)

Thanks for the nice comment Barbara! :)

Hi Nens! That's the best part about recreating it yourself...you get to adapt it to your taste and make it better :)

ginny said...

Hi Jo,

Like I said, am definitely trying this. Really my type.

Gourmet Traveller said...

Sounds really yummy! There's a similar recipe in Nigel Slater's Real Cooking but your spicy version has more zing. I'll try it soon.

Ivonne said...

That looks unbelievable! And good for you for recreating the recipe!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ginny! Hope you like it :)

Hi Gourmet Traveller! Nigel Slater huh? Wow! ...wonder if the folks in Boracay know they've got something in common with Mr. Slater :)

Hi Ivonne! Thank you! :)

canDIshhh said...

Looks delish Joey! :) Reminds me of Kung Pao Chicken... I can hear my tummy gurgling now..

Deanne said...

where can i buy shallots in manila? i don't know what it's called in filipino so i can't exactly ask my yaya to buy it from the market. also, did you use bagoong or alamang?

peter said...

Looks good! Thanks for sharing. I had a similar experience in Boracay. I wasn't able to get the flavors right when i got home. I had to wait a year until i returned...and that time i asked permission to go into the kitchen and watch. They were gracious enough to allow me. You should try asking. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Candishhh! You think so? Thanks! :)

Hi Deanne! I buy them in the grocery or market (Salcedo or Legaspi should have them)...I use the small native red onions, they sometimes come in a long garland. Check out Market Manila's site (in my sidebar) and do a search for shallots and you'll find pictures and more information. I use regular bagoong for this :)

Hi Peter! Are you serious? Thanks for the tip! I will definitely do that the next time I'm there :) I'd love to see their kitchen...I imagine it to be super action-packed!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I love shrimp paste! Reminds me of holidays! This chili chicken looks seriously good Joey!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Amanda! Thank you :) Glad to see another shrimp paste lover :) And nice to know you get to enjoy it on the holidays!

JMom said...

that sounds delicious! I think I'll be trying this spicy dish out while the girls are away on summer vacation :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jmom! Thanks :) Hope you like it!

Gourmet Traveller said...

Trying this for dinner tonight. Yum!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Gourmet Traveller! Hope you like it :)

Rea said...

Hi Chichajo!
We're glad that you enjoyed the chili chicken from Smoke and featuring it in your blog. We hope you can come back and visit us sometime again. By the way, we have a new branch in Dmall at the back of andoks, much nearer to the beach! Yey!
Thanks again!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Rea! Thanks for dropping by :) You are very welcome! Smoke is a favorite of me and my husband for the tasty, value-for-money dishes...the chili chicken in my fave so far :) We are going to bora for New Year's so we will check out your new location!