My mother is Filipino, and I have been cooking or helping cook this dish since I've been old enough to reach the counter. I looked at some of the other recipes and mine is significantly different so I'm going to post it. This recipe is great for pretty much any pallet since it's not as tart as some other recipes. I also think the cinammon sticks are a necessity.
- 1 (3 1/2 lb) whole chickens (one whole chicken, with all the parts is my favorite, but legs and thighs also are really great)
- 1 -2 cinnamon stick
- 3 tablespoons peppercorns (can adjust if desired)
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed (adjust to taste, but sometimes I go extra and use an entire bulb)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar or 1 cup rice vinegar or 1 cup coconut vinegar
- 3⁄4 cup white sugar (I like brown sugar more, but white is what my mom uses)
- 2 cups water (adjust up or down as mentioned)
- Place the liquid ingredients in a pot, starting with about half the amount of sugar. Taste and adjust the seasonings, the vinegar flavor will lessen during cooking, but if it is too sweet or too tart it's easier to adjust the sugar now than trying to adjust the other flavors at the end of the cooking to your preference.
- Add the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves and chicken. If you don't want the seasonings in the final dish you can wrap them up in cheesecloth, but usually they're all left loose. Pack the chicken fairly tightly in the pot and if the chicken is not covered in liquid add water, often I add about 2 cups of water. The water can also help make the flavor less intense if the vinegar is too strong.
- Simmer on medium low for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through. I often leave it until the chicken is pretty much falling off the bones. Add water if you would like to thin out the sauce during cooking. This can also be done in a slow cooker that you start in the morning and leave on low for 6 hours. The meat will fall off the bone, but that just makes it easier to get at it all!
- Serve over rice with the sauce. One other addition I have made, though not traditional I believe is red pepper flakes (about 1 tsp) to the seasonings.