When I first posted a recipe for halang-halang, the only thing I knew about the dish was that it was similar to tinola except for the addition of coconut milk. It turns out — based on readers’ comments — that halang-halang literally translates to anghang-anghang (spicy-spicy) and chilies are an essential ingredient of the dish.
It turns out too that there are many, many ways of cooking halang-halang, some with chunks of chicken, some with pork, and some with very small pieces of meat. Some serve it as a soup; others, as an almost-dry stew.
So, I decided to update my halang-halang recipe.
The chicken pieces are marinated in soy sauce before they are sauteed with ginger, onion, garlic and chilies. Water is poured and and the chicken is simmered.
Midway through the cooking time, wedges of chayote are added. The chicken and chayote simmer together until both are cooked through.
- 1 kilo of chicken pieces (thighs, legs, back and wings are preferred; breast meat is too dry for this dish)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil (extra virgin coconut oil will yield a more aromatic halang-halang)
- 2 one-inch knobs ginger
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- 3 finger chilies (they're milder than bird's eye)
- 2 whole chayote
- fish sauce to taste
- 1 cup coconut cream or coconut milk (use cream for a thicker halang-halang; use milk for a thinner soup)
- handful chili leaves
Cut the chicken into serving size pieces and place in a bowl. Pour in two tablespoonfuls of soy sauce and toss to coat each piece well.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Crush the garlic, peel and slice the ginger and the onion, and dice the chilies.
Heat the cooking oil in a pot and sauté the chilies, ginger and garlic until fragrant, about two minutes. Add the sliced onion and continue sautéing until the onion slices start to soften.
Add the chicken to the pot, pour in enough water to cover and add the chilis. Season with patis (fish sauce). Bring to the boil, cover, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, peel the chayote, cut off the pith at the core and cut into wedges.
Rinse the chili leaves.
Add the chayote wedges to the chicken. Continue simmering for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Pour in the coconut cream or milk. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat. Add the chili leaves, cover and leave for about three minutes to allow the chili leaves to wilt. Do not boil after adding the chili leaves or the dish will taste bitter.
Serve the halang-halang hot.