My recollection of this rice dish topped with cooked meat, called Chicken Pater, was seeing it from a tv channel that showcased Asian cuisine. I did not think much about it then maybe because in the Philippines, it used to be a common practice to wrap food, especially rice, specifically in the rural areas, in banana leaves. I remember school kids back in my day brought lunches packed in these leaves. The banana leaf helps retain the food’s freshness and moisture. A distinctive aroma also comes out when you unwrap the food especially when the food is wrapped straight from the pot.
This is not a common practice now of course. Kids love their food packed in novelty lunchboxes, stainless food warmers and other plastic food containers. This kind of a Filipino tradition though has not become a thing of the past completely. Some years back when I was in Manila, a food stall began selling Filipino meals wrapped in Banana leaves. My all time favorite was, and still is, the rice meal with bistek (the Filipino version of beef steak ), with salted egg and tomato slices on the side. Wrapped, of course, in banana leaf. It was actually a bold move for the entrepreneurs to introduce this traditional dining experience to the market. But it sure did become a big hit that the now franchise has expanded to quite a number of branches.
CHICKEN PATER by Faith Joy
Back to Faith Joy’s Chicken Pater. Chicken Pater, also known as Pastil, is said to originate from our Filipino Muslim brethren in Maguindanao province. Patil is best described as a rice meal topped or accompanied by another prepared dish of either chicken, beef or fish. I looked it up and Google provided me recipes that basically have the same ingredients. I couldn’t say how other versions tasted though because I literally had never tried any before. But then Faith Joy made this incredibly scrumptious rice delicacy available to this small town. Her own version is such a delight that she now gets out of town orders. Faith Joy spent her college days in a prominent university in Marawi where majority of the populace are of Muslim origin. She just knew by heart just how this dish is supposed to taste and tantalize the curious palate.
Here is a rundown of the recipe for making your own chicken pater. I dared not ask Faith Joy for the details on how she prepares her chicken pater because to be honest, I also believe in holding back kitchen secrecy sometimes.
4 cups rice
250 grams chicken breast
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
Chopped chili peppers (optional)
Soy sauce to taste
1. Wash rice and cook in a pot or in a rice cooker. Set aside.
2. Boil chicken breast until cooked and let it cool then shred. Set aside stock.
3. Heat oil in a pan. Saute onions and garlic then add the shredded or flaked chicken. Add soy sauce to taste, crushed peppercorns and chopped chili peppers.
4. Add one cup chicken stock, then cook until sauce dries out.
To wrap, put a cup of cooked rice in the center of a pre-cut and wilted
banana leaf. Add a tablespoon or more of the cooked chicken on top of rice. Make ends of the leaf meet and fold in both sides and press a little to firm the wrap. Or just wrap as you would a sandwich! You now have a mound of chicken pater!
how to wilt the banana leaves
Wilt the banana leaves to make them pliable to fold. Put a leaf over fire on
a stove and simply move it around quickly so as not to burn it. You get a softened leaf once it turns darker and the front side appears glossy.
Faith Joy’s chicken pater gives people like me a chance to appreciate, acknowledge and enjoy this taste of sub cultural experience. Her carefully wrapped pater sells at Php20 each, considerably a budget meal for the common folks. This eco friendly and convenient packaging is also one of the best alternatives to plastic wraps and styros. Faith Joy also has this knack for twisting the flavors of her delicious pater, which provides her now pater lovers variations to look forward to.
For orders and delivery radius, contact Faith Joy at 09107668806 or 09270492089. You can find her store in Poblacion Balete, Bayabas, Surigao del Sur, Phils.
Featured Image credit Jude Limbaro