With the Spanish colonization of the Philippines lasting over three and a half centuries, and with a number of wealthy Filipinos being able to travel to Spain during that period, it’s not surprising that paella, that Spanish rice dish said to have originated in Valencia, would be adapted in the Philippines in more than one form. The Visayas has its arroz a la Valenciana; the province of Pampanga in Central Luzon has bringhe.
Bringhe is glutinous (sticky) rice cooked in coconut milk tinged with turmeric. The meat component varies. Chicken is the most popular, pork is second and third is a combination of chicken and pork. Meat may be combined with seafood. Shrimps and crabs are top choices. Or meat may be totally absent with a combination of crustaceans and mollusks taking their place. Spanish chorizo and raisins occasionally make an appearance.
We ran out of chorizo; no one in my family is a fan of raisins. My version of bringhe has chicken and pork, plenty of bell peppers and a smattering of sweet peas. I also combined three kinds of rice instead of the usual two. I find that the best-textured bringhe is a combo of glutinous (sticky) rice, regular rice AND Japanese rice.
The trick to my version of bringhe is to brown both the chicken and pork (for texture, color and flavor) but to give the chicken a much shorter cooking time to prevent it from getting overcooked. How to do that is detailed in the recipe below.
- 1 large chicken breast bone-in
- 500 grams pork kasim (shoulder)
- 2 to 3 shallots (or substitute 1 onion)
- 8 cloves garlic
- 2 thumb-size pieces ginger
- 1 turmeric
- 2 large bell peppers
- 1/2 cup sweet peas (thawed, if frozen)
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- patis (fish sauce)
- ground black pepper
- 3 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 cup glutinous (sticky) rice
- 1/2 cup regular rice
- 1/2 cup Japanese rice
- 2 to 3 hard-boiled eggs cut into wedges
Debone the chicken breast. Reserve the bone.
Cut the chicken meat into half-inch wide strips about a quarter of an inch thick.
Cut the pork into strips the same size as the chicken.
Peel and thinly slice the shallots.
Crush, peel and mince the garlic.
Peel and grate the ginger and turmeric.
Deseed and dice the bell peppers.
Rinse the sweet peas. Drain well.
Heat the cooking oil in a wide thick-bottomed frying pan.
Saute the shallots and garlic until fragrant.
Add the grated ginger and turmeric with their juices.
Spread the chicken strips on the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat without disturbing for about a minute. Flip them over and cook for a minute.
Drizzle in a about one tablespoon of fish sauce and sprinkle in some pepper.
Stir the chicken. Cook for another minute (the chicken strips are a quarter of an inch thick and that means a short cooking time!).
Move the chicken strips to a plate and set aside.
Spread the pork strips on the bottom of the pan. Brown for a minute, flip over and brown the opposite side.
Pour in one cup coconut milk. Throw in the reserved chicken breast bone. Season with a tablespoon of fish sauce and sprinkle in more pepper. Stir.
Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and set the heat to low. Cook the pork until done and the mixture is almost dry, about 30 minutes.
Pour in two cups of coconut milk. Stir. Taste. Add more fish sauce and pepper, if needed.
Stir in the glutinous (sticky) rice, regular rice and Japanese rice.
Add the bell peppers and peas. Stir.
Cover the pan and let the rice cook in the coconut milk until done. Check after 25 minutes. If the coconut milk has been completely absorbed but rice is still undercooked, pour in more coconut milk.
Spread the cooked chicken strips over the rice.
Cook the brighe until the rice is done, all the coconut milk has been absorbed and the chicken has been heated through.
To serve, garnish the bringhe with wedges of hard-boiled eggs and, optionally, scallions and more bell peppers.