In the olden days, our ancestors cooked in simple ways. And most of the time, they employed slow cooking. I got enamored with the idea of cooking chicken with only steam created by salt in an earthen pot that when I went to Brgy. Pahanocoy — the pottery capital of Bacolod City, Philippines, I bought a big one for P150.
The dish is called “Papisik” because the salt, when the pot is heated, will “pisik” or jump and hit the chicken, flavoring it. And since salt melts, eventually, it will create steam and cook the chicken. The taste, I was told, is simple, but the chicken is flavorful and aromatic, depending on the things you stuff inside it.
First Try: Chicken Papisik
So okay, I did this twice. The ingredients and procedure are actually very simple, after all, the people in the past did not have very complicated cooking techniques.
1 whole chicken
1 kilo salt
1. Clean the chicken, drain, and rub salt on the body and inside. Then stuff the chicken.
2. Line the bottom of the pot with salt.
3. Put a small piece of banana leaf on the bottom where the chicken will stand.
4. Put a banana leaf over the pot and then put on the cover. The earthen pot’s cover is not tightly sealed. The banana leaf will help seal in the heat and created pressure inside the pot that will create tender and moist chicken.
5. Cook over medium heat for about an hour.
Results: Our pot is new. We just washed it but didn’t break it in. I was told that we should have boiled salt with water in it before using it. Duh! We should have been told when we bought it. So anyway, the banana leaf on the bottom got burned and it mixed with the smell of the pot, so the aroma and tasty got this nasty burnt essence that is not good. Also, after an hour, the chicken wasn’t cooked through. So we had to cook it again. But the meat is very tender and juicy.
Second Try: Chicken Papisik
For our second try, a friend of mine said we didn’t need to put a banana leaf at the bottom. She said that we can use a fork or spoon, while I saw someone on the internet use a sardine can, as the purpose is just to let the chicken “stand”. The reason for this is that the chicken should be exposed all around so that the salt can “pisik” on or hit it while cooking, thus evenly flavoring the meat. She also suggested additional ingredients.
1 whole chicken
1 kilo salt
1. The chicken was rubbed with salt and sinigang mix and then stuffed with the lemongrass, batwan, chili, onion, and garlic. I let it stay for 30 minutes but marinating it longer will make it more flavorful.
2. Since our earthen pot still had that nasty burn smell that wouldn’t get off despite of how many washes, I chose to use our metal pot.
3. I lined the bottom with about a kilo of salt again and put the fork at the bottom to balance the chicken. I realize that I never did asked how to use the fork. So anyway, I just let the forks lie down at the bottom to make a stand for the chicken.
4. Let the chicken stand on the forks. Cover the pot with foil to tighten the cover before placing lid. This will create cooking pressure.
5. Cook for an hour. Don’t open the pot. After cooking, let it stay for 15 minutes before opening or wait until serving.
Result: We got a well-cooked tender chicken whose meat falls off its bones. I think we can even reduce the cooking time to 45 or 50 minutes because our chicken shrunk so much! LOL But it’s soooo flavorful! I loved how this came out. And it’s so much better than roasting or cooking the whole chicken in the turbo broiler because the meat can become dry. This one is soooo juicy! And so aromatic, too. The sinigang mix added some sour notes to the chicken, so you may omit it if you don’t like it. However, it removed the “langsa” from the chicken. I love this! I don’t think I will use the turbo again!
Note: If you are using an earthen pot, I think the cooking time should be longer because the pot is thick, unlike the metal pot. Therefore the chicken takes longer to cook.