It was from my mother-in-law that I first learned about Chicken 1-2-3 but I didn’t know at the time that it was a Filipino dish. Later on, I would find several versions of the recipe in various cookbooks by Filipino authors. In The Philippine Cookbook by Virgina Roces de Guzman and Nina Daza Puyat, the dish is called Ely’s 1-2-3 Chicken. The contributor is one Eligio Teehankee so I suppose he is Ely.
The name of the dish is derived from the proportion of ingredients — 1 portion of sugar, 1 portion of rice wine, 2 portions of vinegar and 3 portions of soy sauce. The addition of ginger makes the dish very similar to teriyaki except that the vinegar adds a bolder flavor to it. My version is based on the same ingredients and follows the same proportions but I deviate heavily with the preparation and cooking procedure.
Multiply the ingredients if you intend to cook for more.
- Place all the ingredients in a resealable plastic bag (like Ziploc). Shake well to distribute the seasonings evenly. Marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Pour all the contents of the bag into a sauce pan. Cook the chicken in the marinade, covered, over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, turning them occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn up the heat to high, add the tablespoonful of cooking oil and cook the chicken until glossy and the marinade thickens and is reduced to about a tablespoonful.