chicken / poultry Filipino

Kinulob na Manok (Banana Leaf Covered Slow-cooked Chicken)

Saturday, December 06, 2014Enz F

In the Philippines, chicken is one of the primary sources of food protein. Filipinos, especially those in the remote provinces, usually raise native chickens in their own backyards either as a means of livelihood or to serve their families celebratory dishes for whatever occasion. I remember my grandma used to maintain a spacious lot at the back of her house in Antipolo, Rizal that served as haven for her vegetable garden where midget brown chickens could freely play and roam around. Whenever we had expected guests coming, grandma would slaughter one or two chickens which she would turn into adobong manok (chicken braised in soy sauce and vinegar), tinola (chicken ginger-based soup), sinampalukang manok (chicken stewed in tamarind broth) or pininyahang manok (pineapple and chicken stew). Oftentimes I would help grandma by holding the chicken but seeing that pitiful look in those poor chickens’ eyes, never had I learned the art of taking birds with my own hands which was in contrast to grandma’s mastery of the skills.

Mabini, Batangas has a very unique way of preparing slow-cooked chicken.
Filipinos can cook chicken in numerous festive ways but this particular dish may not sound like the typical roasted chicken (though it may look like one at first glance) that regularly takes the center of the dining table as the main star of the Noche Buena (Christmas Eve Dinner). Folks of Mabini, Batangas in the Southern Luzon Province of the Philippines have a very unique way of preparing chicken known as Kinulob na Manok. Chickens, being one of the main sources of the town’s livelihood, play a very important role in the culture of Batanguenos. They even dedicated a special festivity named after their most loved chicken stew. Kinulob Festival is being annually celebrated to pay tribute to the hardworking native chicken raisers of the town. Local residents would go out of their houses to join the parade in their vibrant chicken-inspired costumes. Every barangay has its own representative in the colorful dance contests which would be highlighted by the participants’ heart-stopping gimmicks and lively choreography. Other events to culminate the festivities are the bands, trade bazaars, food fairs, cultural shows and beauty pageants.

Banana leaves give the dish its distinct aroma.
Kinulob is a Tagalog word which means “airtight” or “pressurized”. As the name suggests, kinulob na manok is a whole chicken stuffed with several pieces of meat slow-cooked along with big chunks of vegetables in a traditional palayok or clay pot which is usually tightly covered with banana leaves and placed over an open flame from panggatong (firewood or charcoal). It yields a very mild and soothing broth reminiscent of hoisin. The cooking method is not very complicated yet the flavors from the simple ingredients and the distinctly mildly sweet and smoky aroma of banana leaves (intensified by the rusticity of palayok and panggatong) are something to tickle your taste buds – overwhelming and truly uplifting to the senses.
Kinulob na Manok (Banana Leaf Covered Slow-cooked Chicken)
Number of Servings: 4 to 6

  • 1 whole (2 lbs.) chicken
  • 4 pcs. chorizo de bilbao or Chinese sausage, diagonally sliced
  • 1 cup salami or smoked ham, sliced or ½ cup bacon bits
  • 1 pc. large whole white onion, peeled
  • 3 pcs. medium-sized whole potatoes, peeled
  • 4 pcs. medium-sized whole tomatoes
  • 3 pcs. calamansi limes, juiced
  • 3 long strands of onion leeks (green and white part)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
  • 4 to 5 cups water
  • salt, to taste
  • banana leaves
  • wooden pick
  • string, for tying (optional)

  1. Rub the chicken with salt. You may strip off the skin of or leave as is. I prefer mine skin-on to intensify the flavors. Rinse very well and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Stuff the chicken with some slices of ham and sausage and one strand of onion leek. Temporarily seal the chicken opening with a wooden pick to keep the fillings intact.
  3. In a large cooking pot or heavy bottom palayok (earthen pot), arrange the chicken, whole onion, potatoes and tomatoes, and the slices of sausage and ham or bacon bits. Pour in the olive oil, soy sauce and calamansi extract. Sprinkle with peppercorns and add the remaining strands of leeks. Pour in water just enough to cover the chicken.
  4. If using palayok, cover the pot with two layers of banana leaves. Secure the leaves by tying a string around the pot. Make sure that the pot is tightly covered. If using a modern cooking pot, place two layers of banana leaves on top and tightly cover with lid. Place a weight above the lid to keep the pot airtight.
  5. Bring to simmer and cook over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Uncover the pot and remove the banana leaves. Check the chicken for doneness. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  7. Place the chicken on a serving platter and surround it with sausage, ham and vegetables. Serve the soup as a starter and the chicken as a main along with plenty of steamed rice. Enjoy!

  • In the province of Batangas, they use native brown chickens which usually take upto 2 hours to cook. And to achieve that distinctly earthy and smoky flavors, kinulob is traditionally cooked in a palayok tightly covered with layers of banana leaves over low charcoal flame.

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