Binakol na manok

On our last night in San Dionisio, Jeoffrey wanted to treat us to a special local dish. He confided that he’d cooked it the week before just to ensure it would turn out ok. The dish was binakol na manok or chicken binakol, which most Filipino recipes describe simply as “chicken cooked in coconut water“. However Jeoffrey wanted to go a step further and make it the traditional Ilonggo way: cooked inside of bamboo over an open fire.

My first thought: how do you get chicken into bamboo? Grind it up and make sausage? Intriguing idea, but no. It turns out the bamboo grows pretty large in the Philippines, and their local chickens—which had, up until that morning, been pecking and scratching around the outdoor kitchen—are slimmer. The chickens’ throats were slit and bled—a job I was offered, but was happy to leave it to the professionals. Then they scalded and expertly plucked every feather by hand.

Plucking the the recently-dispatched chickens for binakol na manok
Plucking the recently-dispatched chickens

At that point it was up to Jeoffrey to get the chicken inside the bamboo and assemble the dish. As I recall, the key ingredients where shallots, tomatoes, coconut meat, lemongrass, ginger, and some aromatic green kamunggay leaves.

Jeoffrey stuffing a chicken into bamboo for binakol na manok
Preparing to stuff the chicken into the bamboo

Jeoffrey stuffing a chicken into bamboo for binakol na manok
Having a little fun with the chicken

Jeoffrey stuffing a chicken into bamboo for binakol na manok
Get. In. And. Stay. There.

The bamboo was topped off with fresh coconut water, and the hole was plugged with banana leaves rolled into a kind of stopper. Both bamboo vessels were set over the coals at an angle and left to cook into the evening. The end result was a fragrant chicken soup with lovely lemongrass undertones.

Binakol na manok in bamboo sitting over coals
Plugged bamboo vessels sitting over the fire

· Food