I love to cook. If that isn’t apparent by now then I’m not a very good writer! I mean this is a food blog, amirite? Anyways, why are you telling us this again, Alyssa? Well, because of this dish–Filipino Ginger and Onion Chicken. Ever since I was a kid I loved being in the kitchen. I loved watching my grandma and my mama cook for me. When I got older, I wanted to know more about the food we ate all the time. When I moved back home after college, I decided that I wanted to learn to cook all of the food. Which brings us here. Now.
This dish, Filipino Ginger and Onion Chicken, was the first one I ever learned to make.
It was the first one I ever tried to cook by myself, the first one I learned by heart. It also happened to be one of the first ones I ever made for friends in college. All that makes it special to me, always. There was no real reason that it was the one I chose to learn first. I think it was just one of the ones I really liked to eat. And at the time I decided to learn to cook, I just happened to want this one. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Mostly, there were just more steps than I thought. Now having learned more dishes and cooked more regularly, it’s not any harder than any other dish I’ve posted. In fact, it’s pretty easy all things considered.
Like I said, there’s just a lot of steps. So unfortunately, this isn’t one of those recipes that you can just throw in a pot and wait for it to boil through. If you’re looking for an efficient recipe that you don’t have to be actively involved with, this one isn’t it. That doesn’t make it difficult. It’s just not as easy as say other chicken recipes. It is still a one-pot dish, however. Just a lot more adding and removing and adding again.
Now this recipe, I learned from the fantastic, Nora Daza. Nora has been on my blog many times before. Of course, I didn’t learn to cook it directly from Nora, but rather her amazing cook book, which I consider to be the Filipino Bible of food. I’ve learned many things from Nora. And on that fateful day that I decided to finally cook by myself and learn a recipe, I opened her book and took a shot at it. I was pleasantly surprised with the result. It only took a few more times for me to cook it before I finally had it memorized and perfected. (Because let’s be honest, the way I cook it today is 1,000x better than that first batch–as is true with most things we cook).
You start off with the chicken. Season it with salt and pepper, and then toss it in some flour. Fry the chicken on all sides until it’s nice and light brown. The flour gives it a nice texture and light coating when fried. You’re not trying to cook it through here, nor do you want it to brown it too much. All you’re really doing is giving the chicken some texture. Take it out and then add the vegetables–first the ginger and then the onion.
Now, the onion is not the usual yellow onion that I use in all my recipes. This time we use green onions (aka scallions). Green onions are aromatic and have an onion-y taste, but are a bit milder than regular onions. My tip is to add a little bit of the white root part, which adds a more intense flavor. The ginger, on the other hand, is the same ol’ regular ginger root. Just peel it off and chop it up. This will be the main and strongest flavors in the dish–hence ginger and onion chicken!
Next we make the sauce. I love saucy Filipino dishes–always have. I think it’s because I like to douse my rice in the same sauce as the main dish. This is the most complicated part of the dish, and the part that kind of threw me for a loop when I first made it. I suggest that you put this together while you fry the chicken to make it easier and quicker once you get to this part. In a small bowl mix the sugar, corn starch and soy sauce with a little bit of water until it’s all fully incorporated. Once your veggies are done sauteing–which won’t take very long–throw in this mixture and simmer it through. The simmering will thicken the sauce, thanks to the cornstarch. Throw the chicken in and add more water. Boil and cook through.
Your sauce will come out thick and smooth. It will taste like sweet and salty with a hint of spice. The bright aromatics of the dish give it a great punch of flavor and enhances the rest of the flavors to perfection. The chicken has a beautiful texture to contrast with the saucy nature of the dish. When done well, this dish comes together so beautifully. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s not wonder that it was the first dish I ever learned to make. It will always be special to me, so hopefully it will be to you as well!
What was the first dish you ever learned to make?
Filipino Ginger and Onion Chicken
- 1-2 lbs chicken wings
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp ginger peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup green onions chopped
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 4 tsp cornstarch
- 1-3 cups water
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper on all sides. Toss in flour to coat. Set aside and let marinade for at least 20 minutes.
Heat oil on high in a deep frying pan. Fry chicken in batches, skin side down for 3-5 min, or until light brown. Flip the chicken over and fry the other side. Repeat until all chicken is fried. Remove to plate.
While the chicken is frying, prepare your sauce mixture. In a small bowl add the sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce and 1/2 tbsp of water. Mix thoroughly until fully incorporated. Set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add the ginger. Saute until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the green onion and saute until lightly wilted, another minute more.
Pour in the soy sauce mixture and simmer for at least 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens through. Add the chicken back to the sauce. Add enough water to cover the chicken.
Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium high and let the chicken simmer for 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Add the fish sauce and turn off the heat. Serve with rice!