When one is feeling under the weather, out of sorts, or sick, we commonly turn to a bowl of lugaw or pospas to nourish and comfort the “patient”. As a kid, if I were home sick with a high fever or other ailment, it was almost certain that I would have to eat lugaw for several meals in a row until I felt better. I suspect what actually made me feel better was the dessert of chocolate kisses, my favorite goody back then (a rare treat in the 1970’s). So while chicken mami is almost certainly our obvious equivalent to a western restorative chicken noodle soup, I think of chicken mami as either morning or afternoon merienda fare. So while taking a lunch break in Greenhills last week, and checking out the offerings at a small tucked away turo-turo near Vira Mall, I had a hankering for chicken mami and ordered a bowl. It arrived, and I had one sip of the broth and taken aback by how tasteless it was. It was as if the noodles (not egg noodles) were simply covered with hot water. I had to add soy sauce and pepper to make it even barely edible!
Once lunch was over, I headed to the Chinese grocery next door, bought some frozen wide noodles (with no egg), passed by another grocery and purchased some fresh egg noodles and headed home intending to make my own chicken mami from scratch the following day. I started off by making a chicken broth, boiling an entire chicken with onions, carrots, leeks, peppercorns, for roughly 30-40 minutes. The chicken was removed and shredded. The broth was concentrated down a bit more. Next, I added a touch of patis (fish sauce) to the broth and some cracked black pepper, followed by sliced napa cabbage. Into a large glass bowl, I added the blanched white noodles, some shredded chicken, broth an chopped green onions. This was FAR BETTER than the bowl of mami I had the day before. Add a little soy sauce for color, flavor and added saltiness. Add more pepper to taste. The four noodles were substantial and filling, and overall this was the blander bowl of two versions of mami I cooked that day…
For the second bowl of chicken mami, I blanched the fresh egg noodles and portioned them out to bowls. Next, I added some julienned carrot to the broth for a few minutes to add some sweetness. Ladled broth onto the noodles, topped with shredded chicken, some sliver and cooked pig’s liver, and some crushed chicharon and chopped green onions. This was a winner. It had flavor bursts, textural contrasts, the satisfying noodles and a more flavorful broth. A keeper.
I realize some folks may PREFER a very bland mami, and perhaps it was meant to be that way. But this souped up version of mami with the addition of chicharon and atay was delicious. I still added a touch of soy sauce as I find it makes the soup much better. I also served this together with some pickled green chilies that seemed to work well with the soup as well. The next time you find yourself wondering what to cook on a cool rainy day, remember to try this homemade mami… so easy and so incredibly satisfying, even if you aren’t sick at all! :)