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Tocinong Manok (Filipino Cured Chicken)

As a child, Edwin's mom told him, "If you want to eat, you should cook it yourself." And that's exactly what he's been doing ever since.

Chicken Tocino

Chicken Tocino

Filipino Chicken Tocino

Filipinos love sweet and savory dishes—and chicken tocino (known as tocinong manok in Tagalog) is one of those dishes. It is a main dish that is traditionally served for breakfast along with fried rice and fried eggs, but it can also be served for lunch or dinner. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

15 min

35 min

6-8 servings

Ingredients

For curing:

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into 1/4-inch-thick, square slices
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons hot tap water
  • 1 tablespoon anatto seeds (aka achiote or achuete seeds) for coloring, available at Asian or hispanic stores

For cooking:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for frying
This is what annatto seeds look like. In Tagalog, they're called achuete seeds, and in Spanish they're known as achiote.

This is what annatto seeds look like. In Tagalog, they're called achuete seeds, and in Spanish they're known as achiote.

Instructions

  1. Soak the annatto seeds in 4 tablespoons of hot tap water for 30 minutes. Press the seeds with a spoon to squeeze out the red juices. Pour the red annatto water through a strainer into a small bowl to remove the seeds.
  2. Mix the chicken, red annatto water, salt, and sugar in the bowl. Transfer to a tupperware container or a ziploc bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. In a frying pan over medium heat, simmer the chicken in 1/2 cup water for about 10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. Add more water if needed.
  4. When the water has evaporated, add the oil and fry the meat on both sides until it caramelizes or gets a bit sticky.

Variations

  • If you want a sweeter dish, you can use 1/3 cup of fruit juice such as pineapple juice in step 3, instead of water.
  • If you want to cure the meat the traditional way, add 1/8 teaspoon of saltpeter (aka salitre in Tagalog) to the marinade in step 2.
  • Use red food coloring as a shortcut instead of using annatto seeds.
  • You can add your own seasonings to the dish to suit your taste, such as garlic powder, ground black or white pepper, soy sauce, or vinegar (add them in step 2).

Annatto Seeds