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Filipino Chicken Pipian

This Filipino Chicken Pipian dish is a great holiday meal for the family or a party. My recipe for the classic heirloom dish from Ilocos, Chicken Pipian is my modern version which used oregano and cilantro (kinchay) as combined substitutes for epazotes (pazotes) which can only be found in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Here in the USA, the dried herb which originated in Mexico can be found through Mexican food markets. I did not have it at the time of cooking, so I substituted per advice of my cousin Gina Adea. This recipe was inspired by the Syquia Mansion family cook, Rusty, based in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and from “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan. My version below serves 4 to 6.
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 d 1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Filipino Chicken Pipian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 350kcal


  • 4 pounds chicken cutlets, bone-in, skin-on about 10 pieces or use a whole chicken
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for marinade
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano for marinade
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt for marinade
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for marinade
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white jasmine rice grains
  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts bottled
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil for saute
  • 1 whole large white onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 3 to 4 whole large tomatoes sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
  • 1/4 cup calamansi juice (or lemon)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth divided, use 1/4 cup, warmed up to soak achuete (annatto) seeds
  • 2 teaspoons achuete or annatto seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon epazote (pasotes) herbs from Mexican stores or else only grows in Vigan, Ilocos Sur - substitute with dried oregano if not available
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • for serving: boiled rice


  • The night before: Marinate the chicken pieces in dried oregano, olive oil, garlic, salt and black pepper. Place the chicken in plastic re-sealable bags and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • The following day: Toast the raw rice grains in a small skillet over medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes. Do not leave stove unattended or rice will burn. When the rice grains turn light brown and have a fragrant toasted aroma, remove from skillet and cool on a small plate.
    Once the toasted rice cools, place it in a mortar and pestle together with the cooked peanuts. Crush them together till mixture becomes powdery. (*Note: for faster results, process rice grains and peanuts in a food processor for 1 minute). Set this rice-peanut mixture aside.
  • In a large stockpot, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. When oil is hot in about 2 minutes, braise the chicken pieces till they turn brown on all sides. Turn the meat around so they brown evenly. Brown the meat for about 8 to 10 minutes till light brown. Transfer chicken to a plate. Set aside.
  • Using the same stockpot, over medium heat, sauté the onions, garlic and tomatoes till onions are translucent and tomatoes are softened. This should take about 3 minutes.
  • Add the patis (fish sauce), lemon or calamansi juice, tomato paste and chicken broth. Stir ingredients. Cover and let simmer.
  • Meanwhile, pour the warm ¼ cup broth over the achuete (annatto) seeds. Press down the seeds with a fork till broth turns orange. Strain the achuete seeds. Use the achuete liquid and pour this into the simmering stock pot with the onion-tomato mixture.
  • Add the pre-browned chicken into the stockpot. Lower heat to a slow simmer. Continue cooking till chicken pieces are cooked thoroughly, for about 50 to 55 minutes.
  • Add the epazotes (or substitute with oregano and chopped cilantro). Then add the rice grains-peanut mixture to thicken the broth. Stir well to combine ingredients. Lower heat to low and stir the mixture every now and then so the rice does not burn at the bottom. Cover and continue cooking, but be mindful rice can burn if not stirred.
  • Season with salt and black pepper. Serve piping hot with boiled rice on the side. Garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Cook’s comments: When I cooked this and refrigerated it, the sauce was thick after refrigeration. When heating up, add about half a cup broth if a soupy dish is desired.
  • More Holiday Dishes: For more holiday dishes with Ilocano origins, check out my past blog post here which links to my feature article "Holiday Dishes with Ilocano Flavors" on PositivelyFilipino.com, a premiere online magazine that celebrates Filipinos globally.

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Serving: 1g | Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Sodium: 1563mg | Potassium: 618mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 499IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg