My husband has heard of pinaupong manok (sitting chicken) several times but never had a chance to try it. He thought it was something complicated to prepare and, hence, only for special occasions. I thought that was really funny. I have been making pinaupong manok since high school. I told him it was the easiest thing to make.
Pinaupong manok is so named because the chicken is made to sit on a bed of rock salt. No liquid is added; the chicken cooks in the combined steam generated from the water content of the salt as well as its own. It absorbs all the natural flavor of the rock salt. Traditionally, the dish is served with a dunking sauce made with toyo (soy sauce) and kalamansi (native lemon) juice.
I decided to cook pinaupong manok with a few improvisations. With the traditional Chinese steamed white chicken in mind, I stuffed the cavity of the chicken with 2 whole onions, 1 whole garlic, several chunks of ginger, a bay leaf and some peppercorns. Then, I served it with a dunking sauce made with finely mined garlic and ginger stirred in olive oil and seasoned with salt. Heck, it was great! Note though that if you have kids who do not like the strong taste of ginger, better prepare an alternative sauce for them. The usual toyo and kalamansi would be fine.
The traditional way of cooking pinaupong manok is to cook it in a palayok, the native earthenware pot. But, there’s nothing wrong with using any large, thick stainless steel casserole. When I was first taught to cook this dish, I was told that it was very important that no part of the chicken should touch the metal. Hence, a large and deep casserole. Cooking time is one hour for every kilo of chicken.
I used a pressure cooker. Cooking time was 20 minutes counting from the time the valve started to whistle.
For the chicken :
1 whole chicken, about a kilo in weight
2 whole onions
1 whole garlic
4 1″ chunks of ginger
1 bay leaf
2-3 c. of rock salt
For the dunking sauce :
1 tbsp. of finely minced ginger
1 tbsp. of finely minced garlic
1/2 c. of olive oil
salt to taste
Cooking procedure :
Peel the onions. Pierce the garlic in several places using a sharp, pointed knife. Rub the cavity of the chicken with rock salt. Stuff the cavity with the onions, garlic, ginger, peppercorns and bay leaf. Rub the skin with rock salt.
Make the bed of rock salt. Pour enough rock salt, about an inch high, into a large, deep stainless steel casserole. Place the chicken on the bed of salt, breast side down, making sure that no part of the chicken touches the metal. Cover the casserole and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour. If using a pressure-cooker, cook for 20 minutes counting from the time the valve starts to whistle.
Do not uncover during cooking time.
Meanwhile, prepare the dunking sauce. Stir the minced garlic and ginger with the olive oil. Season with salt (add more or less depending on your preference).
When cooking time is up, insert a long, large fork into the chicken cavity to lift it without breaking. Transfer to a plate. Take about a tablespoonful of the olive oil from the sauce and brush the chicken all over.