05 Jul2005

I started out trying make or approximate a real “pinikpikan” soup pinik1from the Mountain Provinces. Forget it. Just the cursory research had me reading in increasing horror the method for properly “beating” a live native chicken with a stick while holding it over an open flame with its feathers and all. Essentially, as I understand it, the gentle breaking of blood vessels while you are burning off its feathers makes for a succulent, bloody, tasty bird that then flavors the broth of the soup. The charred skin with all remnants of burned feathers gone provides a unique flavor. Yikes. I have absolutely nothing against the concept of different cultures having different foods, I personally just couldn’t do this method of bird abuse and grilling. I can barely fathom the thought of twisting a chicken’s neck if I had to kill one myself (easier for me to run it over at 80 kph on a provincial road) let alone hold it down on an open flame while it squirms and screams bloody murder! Hmm…now that’s an idea perfectly tailored for an unethical and intrusive telemarketer. And I will be the first to admit a good pinikpikan does truly taste really good. So now what? I decided to take some of the base ingredients of a pinikpikan and improvise – and the surprising result was a simply superb Ham and Chicken Soup a la Marketman, sans fowl torture tactics.

This soup was extremely good, a 9.50 out of 10 in my opinion, biased and all. First make the soup stock by filling a medium pot ½ full of water and adding the bones of one majestic ham or similar ham. The bones are sold at Majestic ham counters for roughly PHP50-60 (a bargain!). pinik2Add two stalks of celery chopped into big pieces, one large slice of ginger and one whole white onion chopped coarsely. Add two knorr chicken cubes (horrible, I know, what? Marketman uses instant cubes?, just bear with me…) and simmer this for about an hour and a half until a nice broth is obtained. Strain this soup and return the broth to the pot and heat it up. Meanwhile, roast a whole chicken until it develops a nice dark brown skin, or if pressed for time, rush over to Pricesmart or a grocery that sells whole chicken from their rotisserie! I used a Pricesmart chicken, the darkest most burnt one I could find, and cut it up and left out only the yuckiest bone parts and dark muck inside the cavity. Put chicken parts into the soup, add one stalk of chopped celery and let it return to a boil. Add one peeled and sliced sayote, about 200 grams of sliced ham (I used Majestic since I got the bones there), chopped in large pieces and add some salt and pepper to taste. Not too much salt as the ham and bones can be salty. Then when you are just minutes to serving the soup, add two handfuls of watercress and maybe 20 pechay leaves and cook for just a minute or so before serving.

The soup was delicious! The broth was medium brown and relatively clear. The instant cubes were well masked by the stronger flavor of the ham bones. pinik3The chicken and ham were tasty and substantial, the sayote a nice foil to the saltier meats. The greens were vibrant as they were just barely cooked and added stunning color to the overall dish. This had salty, sweet, meat, vegetable – yum! Served with a bowl of steamed rice it was a perfect rainy day meal. This recipe would easily serve 6 with large portions or 8 with medium sized portions. Total cost was about PHP500: PHP200 for ham bones and sliced ham, PHP200 for Pricesmart chicken, PHP70 for vegetables (try and use imported celery, it’s better) and PHP 30 for gas and water and depreciation on my equipment. Assuming 6 huge portions, that would only be about PHP83 per person. Not bad, huh? Try it, you will definitely use this recipe again and again.



  1. Gigi Santiago says:

    That Pricesmart chicken is highway robbery pricing, Marketman.
    The same thing sells for just P99 at Waltermart. Thanks for this recipe. Very timely considering it’s dark and cold outside!

    Jul 5, 2005 | 9:57 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    Thanks for that, Gigi. You are right, chicken was a little pricey… and if you can get it for half, that would bring the average price of the soup down by PHP15! Now it’s really a bargain! Just make sure you get as much chicken though, weight and volume does matter!

    Jul 5, 2005 | 10:28 am

  4. Grace Lopez says:

    You know, every holiday season I’m having problem what to
    do with the bone ham. I either give it away or throw away.
    Now you gave me a good idea what do to with it. Thanks,
    I keep this recipe and try when time comes.

    Jul 5, 2005 | 10:57 am

  5. lee says:

    will make this soup soon…. yeah

    Jul 5, 2005 | 12:25 pm

  6. IvanM says:

    Since we’re in the subject of Pinikpikan, its funny how
    this most famous of Ifugao (or Igorot) dishes is so hard
    to come by even in the Ifugao province! On two trips to
    the Rice Terraces, I never saw a single restaurant that
    served authentic Igorot food (even in Sagada)
    Sad considering we were in the Igorot heartland. Worse
    still was the food they served at restaurants- a typical,
    (and instant)serving of rice with canned meat -take your
    pick: corned beef or sardines) so very typical of lowland
    I did once smell Pinipikan being cooked once…imagine
    the smell of burnt flesh.

    Jul 5, 2005 | 1:51 pm

  7. stef says:

    LOL. i’m glad you posted this. i’m working on my soups and stews chapter right now and was wondering “how the heck am i going to make this?” when i was researching the recipe. my neighbors would probably file a report with PETA and APSCA if i even attempted such a thing — we don’t have fences in my neighborhood and i’d feel really funny about beating up a chicken in my backyard over a fire — oh, and fire’s a no-no as well. i think i’ll write a note on the recipe saying “see marketman’s post, etc., etc.”

    Jul 5, 2005 | 7:12 pm

  8. schatzli says:

    I couldnt bear the thought of beating the poor creature!!
    Your wicked sense of humour adds flavour to this story! I have never heard about this soup. Though I have learned a lot about Ilocano, Ifugao food when we moved here in Greece.
    There are many of them here from the region and they are called ethnics!
    So I will ask them about this and I wonder if one of them here ever tried this flame whacking thing here in Athens.
    Great pic by the way!

    Jul 6, 2005 | 12:18 am

  9. lee says:

    whack the sorry bird to the tune of michael jackson’s beat it.

    Jul 6, 2005 | 10:34 am

  10. Marketman says:

    That thought is just too funny!!! I couldn’t stop sniggering for nearly a minute. I do love animals but I agree this dish comes close to the soon to be initiated strange dish of the year award. It is not my intention to offend any Igorots as I do love the original soup but the preparation is not for me. Just like I couldn’t reach into a writhing sturgeon to pull out the eggs and pop them them into my mouth as caviar with a blini. Eew, is right. :)

    Jul 6, 2005 | 11:25 am


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