28 Jul2009


Organic free range native chicken soup with some chopped inner core of a banana tree/stalk and mung beans. How’s that for a mouth full? What it was, actually, was an incredibly satisfying local soul food. Tasty, hearty, easy and honest. The story started off the night before, while discussing an incredible array of organic produce that was delivered to my host’s kitchen minutes after we had landed in Bacolod… from produce I turned to meats and our purveyor (who I will do a separate post on) mentioned that they had totally organic, free-range chickens on their farm and I must have been hopping up and down a little too much because the next day two gorgeous live oranically raised chickens were delivered to our host as a gift. At first, the scene momentarily brought back a traumatic experience from childhood, when a farm hand in a Bohol farm asked if I had ever seen a headless chicken running around and when I said “no,” he morbidly cut off the head from a chicken destined for our luncheon meal and the poor bird did indeed run around the lawn flailing its wings until it lost a lot of blood and passed away. It was an immensely cruel thing to do, and I refused to eat chicken that lunch and for many weeks after that in protest. It is also why the phrase running around like a “headless chicken” is so vivid for me.


However, some 40 years later, I realize I am a carniovore and do kill animals because I choose to eat them. I have tried to see several types of animals slaughtered and prepared for the kitchen as a way of understanding how they are treated before I eat them. So I decided I was finally going to face my childhood chicken trauma and asked to see the chickens being slaughtered. I have far more graphic photos but they don’t add much to the description I am about to write, so I have left them out. The chicken is held by two people, and the beak and head are held firmly in one hand. A very quick slice at the neck or jugular is made and the chicken is bled. About 20-30 seconds later, it stops movement and it is set aside for a quick bath in hot water and feather plucking. It is brutal, yes, but done with what I can only describe as provincial respect and dignity. And this is not an unusual scene. I suspect millions of chickens meet the same fate in the Philippines every week.

The dressed chickens (WHY do they call them that, when in fact, it’s the opposite, we UNDRESS them don’t we?) were then placed in pot with water and aromatics and after an hour or so, there was a wonderful flavorful broth. Mung beans were added until softened, then chopped ubad or the core of a banana stalk or tree. Seasoned with salt and pepper, this was delicious. Definitely comfort food. Despite the slight discomfort that comes with knowing it includes a chicken amongst its ingredients. So does the organic chicken really make a noticeable difference? I think that it does. And I like the thought that the chickens had a relatively nice existence, running around open fields, chatting with their friends, munching on hapless worms, bugs and other natural grains and feed, until I caused them to be murdered for our soup pot…



  1. Maria Clara says:

    The simplest lutong bahay cooking with no ginisa or sankutsa involved I imagine. Slow cooking and drop everything in a pot of water and stir stir to mix and voila wonderful hearty chicken munggo beans and ubad soup. This is a new munggo dish to me never heard it before.

    Jul 28, 2009 | 12:44 pm


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  3. Fred says:

    Will try this when I get some native chickens. Thanks for the recipe MM!

    Jul 28, 2009 | 1:24 pm

  4. sanojmd says:

    it still looks delish, no matter how simple the dish is..

    Jul 28, 2009 | 2:11 pm

  5. Carlotta Velasco says:


    Jul 28, 2009 | 2:24 pm

  6. Connie C says:

    No offense to our brothers and sisters in the northern part of the country, but the practice of tenderizing a chicken before it is slaughtered for the dish pinitpitan is very discomforting if not aversive to me. I partook of it once and did not realize the process, but I shall not do it again.

    Jul 28, 2009 | 6:27 pm

  7. natie says:

    we used to cook it like this, but with kadios (black beans) and lemon grass. i can still remember the aroma..

    Jul 28, 2009 | 6:35 pm

  8. bengski says:

    I wonder what aromatics were added with the chicken…
    lemongrass perhaps? Ginger? Pandan?

    Jul 28, 2009 | 7:36 pm

  9. Homebuddy says:

    Native chicken is definitely more flavorful and delicious!

    Jul 28, 2009 | 9:41 pm

  10. Joni says:

    Hahaha that picture is PETA’s worst nightmare.

    re: dish
    one of those dishes you can thoroughly enjoy on a rainy august day. :) yum

    Jul 29, 2009 | 1:00 am

  11. kurzhaar says:

    I’m not sure that cutting off that chicken’s head was any more “cruel” than the typical method of cutting the throat and bleeding out the bird that’s used for chickens, turkeys, etc. It may have been rather graphic for a kid but I suspect was at least a quicker death than the standard method. What IS cruel is factory-raising of animals destined for meat. I’ve posted before on this, and how much more aware of this issue I have become as I had the experiences of killing the animals myself (hunting, fishing, raising chickens). I think the vast majority of people (at least in the US, but probably true in most urban environments) have become dissociated from the reality that is behind providing the meat/fish on their plate. Watch “Food, Inc.”, which while clearly taking a position, has (in my opinion) a lot of truth to its premises.

    I am still waiting for your promised post on your position on veal, Marketman! :) As you know, veal is a treat that I nowadays very very rarely indulge in, because of the way most veal is produced.

    Apart from the humane treatment of animals issue, I find that animals raised in a more natural environment DO taste incomparably better. There is no comparison even between eggs from hens that run around on pasture and eat bugs and worms, and eggs from hens confined to metal cages. I find the labelling of supermarket eggs “from vegetarian-fed hens” laughable…and totally at odds with the fact that chickens are omnivores.

    Jul 29, 2009 | 3:17 am

  12. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, I did start writing the veal post, which led to a great discovery of how beef, chickens, lamb, etc. were all commercially slaughtered, many in ways appalling, even to me, so I got waylaid. Will try to get my brain around it again in the near future. As I have said before, if one chooses to eat meat, something is going to be killed. But I have to agree with you there is a better way to live and be killed than some of the highly commercial methods in use…

    Jul 29, 2009 | 6:46 am

  13. m says:

    really wonderful and down to earth post, so simply stated, without any pretense or prescriptions. whether it’s the growing anti big corporation meat/agriculture sentiment in today’s media, or just changing tastes, i’ve gone from eating meat at least twice a day, to none at all. which is strange, as a pinay :) i have a similar childhood memory to you, when visiting family in san pablo as a 6 year old, and befriending the chicken that was to be our dinner… the older i get, the more real the idea of slaughtering is to me, in a way — and while i have nothing against others eating meat, i personally cannot do it, simply on grounds of a too-vivid imagination. anyhow, again, really this might be my favorite post so far.

    Jul 29, 2009 | 9:14 am

  14. kurzhaar says:

    Factiod…AP reported a couple years back that the average American annually eats:
    Chicken: 84.9 pounds
    Beef: 63.5 pounds
    Pork: 48.2 pounds
    Turkey: 17.5 pounds
    Lamb and Mutton: 1 pound
    That works out to be 215+ pounds of meat (not counting fish) per year (or about 0.6 lb/day). And that is an average…so if you factor in the vegetarian population and folks like me who don’t eat much meat at all, it’s a frightening statistic for the US.

    I cheerfully admit to being obsessed with good food and wine, and I DO enjoy meat, but it has got to be GOOD meat–and that includes humane raising and treatment of the animal if it was a domestic creature. I pay a premium for locally raised meat (chicken, turkey, pork, beef) but since I know how these animals are raised, I don’t mind.

    Jul 30, 2009 | 5:38 am

  15. atbnorge says:

    I love breaking the wishing bone of an organic chicken. They’re a lot harder than the battery chicken’s wishing bone and it is wishful thinking for me to do that again—slaughter a chicken for food. I could do it alone, though, Marketman. With the chicken on the wooden bench, I gathered the wings and feet together and restrained them with my foot. With my left hand holding the head—stretching the neck—I severed the carotid vein with the knife…I know it’s gross and inhumane, but I had no qualms in killing an animal for food. It was our upbringing; at home and in the farm. We enjoyed taking care of the animals while they were still alive. They had normal animal lives and we didn’t let our sentiments get in the way of killing them. There was also the fact that our father loved to fish and hunt, so we had the privilege of eating wild game (usa and baboy damo, and many types of birds) when it was still not banned to hunt them. I also remember when I was a teenager, I asked what the food on the table was (it looked like a very dark meat adobo). Father used to say, “Don’t ask. Just eat.” We learned from such an answer that it was something very, very exotic. It was meat of either a monitor lizard or a python. Well, it was really Tatay who taught me to be heartless when it comes to killing animals; what with him slaughtering an animal for “pulutan” every time a friend came for a visit. When we ran out of goats for the kaldereta pot, guess what he resorted to…Yeah, I know what you are thinking—one time, he also slaughtered the pet dog for a friend of his. (I am so sorry for the graphic story, really.)

    Jul 31, 2009 | 4:00 am

  16. joyce says:

    this entry reminds me of an essay i read on thomas keller. he related how he once asked a supplier to bring a live chicken so that he could try killing it himself. he had a hard time killing the chicken and ended up prolonging its agony. he said that taught him to appreciate and respect how meat is used in the kitchen.

    Jul 31, 2009 | 4:22 pm

  17. jerome says:

    This is one dish that is almost impossible to get..unless your back home. For where in USA can you get that banana ubad????…. Maybe its hidden somewhere in some Filipino supermarket but …where??? and it may defitely frozen. Can a frozen ubad tastes as good???? I went home last year and this is the dish I especially ordered my relatives to prepare for me. And suman at buko salad as my dessert. Oh boy….the native chicken made all the difference…thank you for this mouth watering post…

    Sep 19, 2009 | 2:48 am

  18. el_jefe says:

    MM I Suggest you try this San Pablo Laguna Dish


    =Yellow monngo pre boiled mashed
    =1/4 kilo suaje
    =1 small pc of ginger
    =2 cloves garlic
    =garlic sprouts if in season
    =chilli leaves
    =sili pansigang
    =black pepper
    =salt/ patis
    =2 cups gata thin
    =1 cup gata thick (kakang gata)
    =shrimp broth from boiled shrimp skin and head


    saute garlic onions, and ginger
    add peeled shrimps
    add patis and shrimp broth
    add mashed mungbean
    pour in the thin gata (segunda gata)
    constantly stir to thicken the mixture and to avoid lumps
    add the other ingridients and spices
    black pepper and siling pansigang
    add the thick gata
    simmer for 5 minutes
    add the chopped garlic sprouts
    top with chilli leaves

    VOILA!!! YUM!!!

    Oct 30, 2009 | 9:58 am


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