Vigan Chicken Pipian

Chicken Pipian

Philippine Pipian and the Mexican Pipian is very closely related to each other, the key concept of the dish remains the same where meats like chicken is stewed on a mixture stock and ground nuts or something similar cooked with espazote leaves. Philippine Pipian is not a very popular dish back home but in the Northern region like the Ilocos area this is a common dish. Pipian is not natively Filipino, in fact the Filipino version of this dish together with the Champorado originated from Mexico most probably when they were doing business via the galleon trade during between 1565 to 1815. From there ingredients were adjusted to what is available locally hence roasted almonds were dropped off and Filipinos used toasted rice instead.

I first tried this in a friend’s house who happens to be from that region, the first time I saw it I thought its some sort of a Kare Kare. I gave it a try and it was something that I never had tried before, the texture was thick and there are some sour notes. After I left Philippines a long time ago I never had tasted it and even cooked it, I don’t know the recipe and I can’t find it online until now. The recipe below is more of a wild guess plus some contributions from what I read online about how it’s made. Though the ingredients for the recipe below is not the authentic one as I can’t get them here, the taste is very similar to the ones I tried before.

What was changed was the souring agent which I guess back in the Philippines they used kamias or balimbing, these are not available in New Zealand so I opted for tamarind. Original version also uses epazote leaves which has a similar flavour profile to similar to oregano, anise or fennel but stronger, it also yields a pungent smell like petroleum with flavour profiles of savoury citrusy mint. Finding a replacement for this was hard but I guess the closest one would be oregano and cilantro plus spinach for some extra greens. Hopefully I will not offend any purists but you can’t blame me like the Mexicans in the Philippine during those times they just adjusted the recipe to suit to what ingredients they had available creating the Philippine Pipian. Now can I call this a New Zealand Pipian?

Vigan Chicken Pipian
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 7-8
  • 1½ kg chicken legs and thighs
  • 1 cup rice, toasted and ground
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbsp annatto powder
  • 1 lemongrass bulb, bruised
  • 1 40g sinigang mix
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pack spinach leaves
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb sized ginger, minced
  • fish sauce
  • oil
  1. In a large pot add oil then brown chicken pieces, remove from pot then set aside.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, sauté until fragrant.
  3. Combine water, chicken stock and annatto powder, mix until free of lumps. Pour liquid into the pot together with the dried coriander, dried oregano, lemongrass bulb and toasted rice. Bring to a boil mixing once in a while to prevent rice from sticking at the bottom of the pan. Once boiling bring back the chicken and let it simmer for 30 minutes, mix it once in a while and add water if it becomes too thick for your preference.
  4. Add the sinigang mix and remove the lemongrass, simmer for 10 more minutes or until chicken is cooked. Season with fish sauce add the spinach leaves, give it a mix then turn off heat then serve.


Chicken Pipian Wide


2 Responses

  1. Wow! This looks and sounds amazing! I can’t see how this would offend anyone, it sounds great 😉

  2. never heard of this one, not surprising since even you had trouble getting a recipe, but I am so curious. I am partly there: I have annato and epazote at home lol. Very intriguing. BTW love the pic set up with old cameras.

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