Do it like the first district: Tinutungang Manok

Admit it or not, no one makes a good ginataang dish other than the people from the province. May it be a vegetable, fish, meat or a combination of three, they always have the perfect set of recipes to make every gata dish more delicious and extraordinary.

Here in the first district of Albay, at the municipality called Bacacay, locals have their own traditional way of turning an ordinary gata dish into a special cuisine that resonates Bicolano’s adaptability to life’s challenges and unique cooking style.

This is the tinutungang manok and you can make it by burning the grated coconut before the milking process starts.

A perfect recipe for a tinutungang manok has to have the following:

  • Tanglad (3)
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped onions
  • Calamansi (5)
  • Siling haba (3, sliced)
  • Papaya (finely shred)
  • Fish sauce
  • Chicken
  • Grated coconut
  • And most importantly, charcoal.

You might be ‘gagging’ as you read the charcoal among the list of our recipe but believe me, that’s the star of the dish.

Let’s burn it

In a small aluminum basin, put the grated coconut and place the charcoal on top. Set the charcoal on fire and let the coconut burn. You might wanna use an abaniko to quicken the burning. Do this for about 10-15 minutes until the coconut got evenly burn.

Once done, put out the fire by covering the charcoal with some of the grated coconut. Let it rest for some few seconds until the fire gone out.

Using a tong, remove the charcoal from the basin and start the milking process. Do not put any water at this point and just extract the milk from the coconut.

Afterwards, drain the milk using a strainer to separate the residue of the charcoal.

Set aside the first milk of the coconut and repeat the milking process. This time, you may add some water to help extract more milk from the coconut. Do not combine the first and second milk and proceed to cooking.

Quick Trivia

I know you’re already hungry, but first, trivia.

Did you know that tinutungang manok was created out of the devastation of typhoons in the region?

According to some locals of Bacacay, Albay, tinutungang manok was commonly cooked after a devastating typhoon hits the region.

With all the coconuts and papayas that fell down from the trees, locals found a way to make a dish out of it. And since the most easiest meat you can get after a typhoon is chicken, they’ve also incorporated it to their cooking.

However, what makes this dish tinutungang manok was probably because of the absence of electricity after a typhoon. With ample source of charcoal and firewood, they burnt the coconut before milking to incorporate that smoky flavor to their dish.

Let’s cook it

In a medium heat pan, saute the garlic and onion. There’s no definite rule with what to cook first but if you want to get that strong garlic flavor, cook the garlic first. If you want that caramelized onion, then do the onion first.

Next, put the three pieces of tanglad and follow the chicken. Let the chicken absorb the aromatics first then put the second milk of the coconut.

It is imperative to use the second milk first when making any gata dish to keep the creaminess of the dish.

Once the chicken fully absorbs the coconut milk, you may now add the papaya and let it cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the first milk or kakang gata and let it simmer until the smoky flavor comes out. You may then add the fish sauce to taste as well as the siling haba and calamansi for more explosion of spice.

Simmer for another 5 minutes until all the ingredients and spices incorporates with each other then served hot with rice.

Have this dish with your loved ones and don’t forget to share this story with everyone. Enjoy! | Ken Oliver V. Balde


Photos: DOT V