Strictly speaking, paksiw is not a dish but a cooking method that involves simmering meat or seafood in vinegar. Yes, paksiw is sour.
But, in modern practice, when cooking meat into paksiw, the sourness is balanced with saltiness (soy sauce) and sweetness (brown sugar). It’s leftover roast lechon (a whole pig roasted on a open pit) that’s cooked this way. Because lechon is often carved, there’s plenty of meat attached to the bones that would go to waste if not cooked as a stew.
Why not just reheat? Isn’t that simpler? The truth about roast meat is that reheating repeatedly dries it out. Something saucy is preferable.
Leftover roast / rotisserie chicken can be cooked as paksiw too. It’s also a smart way to recycle fried chicken. Fried chicken is great with its crispy skin and moist meat when newly cooked. But when it has turned cold especially after sitting overnight in the fridge, it is impossible to make the skin as crispy during reheating. Some cooks deep fry leftover fried chicken but that makes the chicken much too greasy. Me? I’d rather throw cold fried chicken into a pot and cook it as paksiw.
To cook paksiw with leftover roast / rotisserie / fried chicken, saute garlic, shallots and chilies in a little oil, you pour in the vinegar and soy sauce, and you sprinkle in brown sugar. Throw in a couple of bay leaves and add a little freshly cracked black pepper. Drop in the chicken and boil everything together until the chicken has soaked up most of the liquid.
Then, you pour in the lechon sauce and simmer everything until all the flavors have fused together and the sauce has reduced some more. By the end of the cooking time, the chicken pieces should be snuggled in a thick blanket of dark sauce.
Filipino sweet sour roast chicken stew (paksiw na lechon manok)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 shallots (or 1 red onion) peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 2 to 3 bird’s eye chilies thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup vinegar
- ¼ cup dark soy sauce
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar firmly packed
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 to 10 leftover roast or fried chicken pieces (about 800 grams in total weight)
- 1 to 1 ½ cups lechon sauce (store bought)
- sliced scallions to garnish
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan.
- Saute the garlic, shallots (or onion) with ⅔ of the sliced chilies until softened and aromatic, about two to three minutes.
- Pour in the vinegar and soy sauce. Stir in the brown sugar and black pepper, and throw in the bay leaves.
- Dump the leftover rotisserie or fried chicken into the pan. Boil until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about five minutes.
- Pour in the lechon sauce. Set the heat to the lowest setting. Cover the pan. Simmer the chicken for 20 minutes. Midway through the cooking, taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings, as needed.
- Transfer the cooked paksiw na lechon manok into a serving bowl or individual bowls. Garnish with sliced scallions and the remaining sliced chilies.