Chicken Afritada

Sometimes, there is a need for Asian food in my shouting system that when I try to ignore it, it keeps its persistence loud and blaring. I get the point at the end of the day. Tonight, it was loud and clear. I was lazy to cook an elaborate Asian meal so off I went to the mall with my karate kid just out from his karate lesson with his karate gi (training uniform) and butterfly-catcher daughter with her long-handled net fitting in front of the car.

I was almost out of the gate when I heard shrilly voices shouting "Mamma!". They had been playing outside catching bless-those-poor-insects with their nets. They wanted to come with me to order Asian take-out. I had to check the net if there were any other would-be passengers in it. I was reluctant to take them because they were at the borderline of being presentable and needing a strong spray in the shower. But hey, they are kids anyway and the day was ending. It's forgivable!

Eversince a new Italian-owned Asian take-out restaurant opened in the mall, I have been frequenting them for their steamed shumai (or siomai as I know it). I particularly like this take-out because the kitchen is open. I can see everything that's going on inside which is a common practice in Italian restaurants but not in Chinese restaurants. Siomai had been my big favorite snack when I was still in the Philippines. Dipping them in soy sauce mixed with calamansi (calamondin lemons) was perfectly delicious! I can eat an alarming amount in one sitting but I won't tell you how much because you might be alarmed yourself. I make them in some occasions but buying them is faster and easier. Yes, even if I am a foodie, I get lazy too and go for shortcuts to enjoy food.

But let's move on to this dish. This is a very popular traditional Philippine chicken dish (sometimes you can find pork versions too). I only liked this dish at a later age when I learned to appreciate the tomato sauce with the chicken. I didn't like tomato sauce-based chicken dishes with more sauce than meat. Then I moved to Italy where a LOT of dishes are smeared with tomato sauce (but not swimming). I also learned to use a dipping sauce of fish sauce mixed with calamansi that goes perfectly with this dish. Well, in my taste anyway. Not everyone uses dipping sauces with this dish so don't try it unless you really like peculiar tastes (like me). My husband and kids love this without the dipping sauce and cringe at the first taste of the fish sauce with the chicken. In reality, I use the colatura di alici, the Italian version of the Asian fish sauce that came from the ancient Roman's recipe of garum.

Before we head off for another weekend, I would like to share this recipe with you. Then another one after this, a delicious pasta dish that is quite popular with my family.

Buon appetito and wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Chicken Afritada

Serves 4

  • Extra virgin olive oil (or olive oil)
  • 4 chicken thighs (or other choice parts)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 425 g. canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth 
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 500 g. potatoes, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups green peas
  • Salt 
  • Pepper


  1. Rub salt & pepper on the chicken. Over medium - high heat, brown both sides of the chicken in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.  About 5 minutes each. Transfer them to a plate and set aside.
  2. Put down the flame to medium. In the same saucepan, sautè the garlic & onions until cooked through. Put back the chicken.
  3. Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and bay leaves.
  4. After about 20 minutes of cooking, add the carrots and potatoes.
  5. After 10 minutes, add the bell pepper and peas.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm with warm steamed white rice.