Cooked like the Bicolano dish called pinangat but, instead of seafood and taro leaves, parcels of chicken-stuffed bok choy were cooked in coconut cream.
Among all the varieties of cabbage that I have tried, bok choy (called pechay in the Philippines) is my favorite. When I was a kid, it was a mainstay in all boiled meat and vegetable dishes. Later on, I would learn how good it is in stir fried dishes.
One time, our former gardener came over with a treat — fresh bok choy harvested from her own garden. The leaves were so fresh and perfect — no tears, no holes — and I wondered if they could be used as a wrapper. There were some chicken thigh fillets thawing on the kitchen counter and I decided to use them for the filling, pinangat style. Did it work? Oh, yes. OH, YES!
First, I wrapped chicken fillets in two layers of bok choy.
I kept at it until I ran out of chicken fillets to use as filling.
Then, I sauteed the spice based. Pretty basic — onion, tomato, garlic, ginger and chilies.
The bok choy-wrapped chicken parcels were arranged in a single layer and coconut cream was poured in.
Less than half an hour later, the bok choy leaves were tender and the chicken inside was cooked through with all the flavors from the spices and coconut cream. Delicious!
- 4 chicken thigh fillets (skin on), diced and sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper
- 10 large pechay leaves (use more if they are small)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 2 tomatoes roughly chopped
- 2 finger chilis (optional), cut into thirds
- one-inch knob ginger peeled and grated
- patis (fish sauce)
- 1 cup coconut cream
Cut off the white stalks of the bok choy — don’t throw them away though because you can use them for stir fries.
Lay a bok choy leaf (or two, if they are small) flat and place a tablespoonful or so of the seasoned chicken at the center. Roll up to secure the filling. Don’t worry too much if the wrapping appears loose. Repeat for the rest of the bok choy leaves and chicken.
Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan or wok (your cooking pan should be wide enough to hold the bok choy parcels in a single layer.
Saute the onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes (and chilis, if using) until softened, about five minutes.
Arrange the bok choy parcels in the pan in a single layer.
Pour in the coconut cream. Drizzle in about two tablespoonfuls of fish sauce.
Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the coconut cream has curdled and the sauce is almost dry.
To serve, arrange the chicken-stuffed bok choy (curdled coconut cream and all) on top of hot rice.