The Filipino Chinese Fried Chicken that probably started the whole Filipino Fried chicken craze! Copycat Savory Chicken is an Ang Sarap take on the classic Savory chicken that was popular during the 60’s to 80’s, a Chinese style fried chicken with a Filipino twist made by simply marinating it in Asian aromatics and soy sauce.
Even before the lechon manoks of Baliwag and Andoks existed, even before the Chicken Joy or Chicken McDo became popular, the Filipinos have this, the Savory Chicken. I am not sure when was the last time I had one but for some reason I still vividly remember the takeaway box or the white signage on its restaurants with the words “The Original” in Brush Script font then followed by a large red all caps word “SAVORY” in Rockwell font. I am pretty much sure those Filipinos who lived in Manila that are near my age would remember this restaurant as they offer great if not the best chicken during those times.
The Savory chicken existed since the end of World War 2 by four brothers, the Ting Brothers. During those days they established a small “panciteria” in Quiapo where it serves mainly, Lomi. The place quickly became popular so the Ting Brothers expanded their menu and of the them was this chicken served with a special gravy, this dish was the talk of the town and people from other places flocked Quiapo just to give it a try. The brothers then decided to open the first Savory branded restaurant in Escolta and the rest was history.
So, what is this Savory Chicken? Basically, it is a Chinese style fried chicken adjusted to the Filipino palate, like most amazing chicken dishes, the meat is tender, moist and extremely tasty, even the thick breast section which in most chicken are tasteless. Skin is usually thin yet crisp, it is then complemented by the umami from the gravy. Like most Chinese food where it is common for a cooking vessel to be used for really long times, the traditional Chinese Wok to be used in making this Chicken needs to be used several times to capture the authentic flavours of this dish. The main reason for that is to absorbs the soul of whatever was cooked there time and again, like Wok Hei, Tea Stains on Tea Pots or even Master Stock.
Now, I might not be able to recreate that exact flavour at home as I don’t have a wok that cooked the same chicken for many years, what I will try to do is recreate it as much as I can using what I have. I am not entirely sure if this is the exact procedure, they do at Savoury but I have several techniques used so they meat is tasty and the skin is thin and crisp. I know Savoury fries their chicken but before that I am not sure if its processed in any other ways, for our recipe we will cook this chicken twice, first by roasting so the flavours will not be diluted in hot oil and just be concentrated on the chicken, then once cooked we will baste the outside with boiling oil to give that nice shine and crisp skin.
Copycat Savory Chicken is an Ang Sarap take on the classic Savory chicken that was popular during the 60’s to 80’s, a Chinese style fried chicken with a Filipino twist made by simply marinating it in Asian aromatics and soy sauce.
In a food processor combine all marinade ingredients except for the bay leaves. Pulse marinade until ingredients are finely chopped, set it aside for 30 minutes to let the liquid absorb the flavours of the herbs and spices.
Using a fine sieve, strain the spiced soy sauce then discard the solids.
Pour marinade in a large heavy duty Ziplock bag, add the bay leaf then place the whole chicken. Cover Ziplock then let it marinate overnight inside the refrigerator.
Remove chicken from the refrigerator, let it stand in room temperature for 1 hour.
Drain chicken of excess liquid, set used marinade aside then mix the sesame oil, this will be the basting sauce.
Roast chicken in a 220C preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Baste chicken with sauce every 15 minutes.
15 minutes before removing your chicken from the oven, heat peanut oil to 180 C in a wok.
Remove chicken from the oven, place in a rack with heat proof tray underneath then slowly pour heated oil on the surface of the chicken to crisp up the skin.
While chicken is roasting prepare the gravy. In a saucepan heat oil and flour over low heat, continue to stir and cook until flour is light brown in colour.
Gently pour chicken stock in to the saucepan while mixing continuously, make sure consistency is even.
Add the peanut butter and Chinese five-spice powder then continue to cook mix until well incorporated and thick.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, turn heat off.