I am an Igorot, a Filipino, an earthling. My ethnicity may have made me different, but so does yours and the others out there. Our disparities may be glaring at times, however, if we look through our heart, we will notice our commonality as human beings.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pinikpikan... The Way It Is

Why do we have to hurt the ones we love to eat?

Gross! Maybe, but that's the way it is when you want to have Pinikpikan. You have to "killing-me-softly" the chicken. Pikpik, where Pinikpikan was derived, means to pat/tap and such is done hundred of times in preparing the main ingredient of the dish.

Before your imagination runs wild, let me share how this controversial food is prepared.


  1. Chicken (much better if you have a native chic)
  2. Salt
  3. Ginger
Optional Ingredients:
  • Sayote (Chayote) or Papaya
  • Leafy vegetables (cabbage, pechay or bok choi, saringit or cabbage shoots)
  • Etag (salted/smoked pork. I'll tell about this next time.)
  • Onion leaves (leek)
"Torturing" the Chicken
Before killing the chicken, using a stick, tap the inner part of each wing consecutively from tip to base and vice versa until they turned dark red. (To be able to do this, ask an assistant to hold the chicken head and feet. Spread the wings and join them backward then hold the tip with one hand.) When the wings are done, hold the feet and hang the chicken downward then deliver a killer whack at the back of its head. Others prefer breaking the neck (yap, there are expert neck breakers) than this bludgeoning part.

The controversies of Pinikpikan arose from the way its main ingredient is prepared. Many calls it inhumane since the chicken is killed slowly or softly (thus the song "Killing Me Softly" was associated to the dish). The beating is meant to make the blood curdle inside which in effect is believed to render a richer flavor to the meat compared to ordinary butchered chicken. With the right force (just enough to bruise but without cutting the flesh), the process would only take 10 minutes at the most.

(Photo from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinikpikan)

"Undressing" the Chicken

When the chicken is already dead, pull off the the large feathers in the wings. Then singe the chicken directly in an open fire or
with the use of an LPG blow torch. Pluck the burned feathers but be careful so as not to tear the skin apart. Repeat the burning and the plucking until almost all of the feathers are removed. If you want to include the head and the "adidas" in the cooking, don't forget to peel off the feet skin and the outer covering of the beak. Wash the "undressed" chicken afterward.

Just like the tapping part, there is no other way to remove the feather of a Pinikpikan chicken but through singeing. Otherwise, it will not be a Pinikpikan.

Butchering the Chicken...
There's a way of doing this without breaking any bone of the chicken. Cut the skin under the neck just above the depression in the breast. Lay the chicken on a table. Use one hand to hold the breast down through the incision made then use the other hand to pull the neck up and towards the back to separate the breast from the back and ribcage with all the innards intact.

Locate and remove the bile before working on the other organs. Avoid bursting the bile for it can make the whole chicken taste bitter. In case the bile bursts, wash the tinctured part immediately until the green coloration disappears. Wash the intestine thoroughly and slice open the gizzard to remove its yellowish inner lining. Tie up all the internal organs using the intestine and include it in the cooking later.

Cut the meat to your preferred slices and don't forget to chop off and discard the claw nails.

The simplest way of cooking is Pinikpikan is to boil all the meat with a ginger. Then add salt to taste when the meat is almost cooked. That's it!

If other ingredients are included in the menu, boil the etag (salted pork) first before putting in the chicken and sayote. Add salt to taste. When the meat is cooked, add the leek and other vegetables.

And presto!

If you want to try Pinikpikan, drop by at Sagada Lunch when you are in Baguio (I haven't tried other eateries yet if they also have pinikpikan. ) I am sure you will also find the same delicacy in most of the local hotels and lodges in other parts of the Cordillera.


Gremliness said...

And yeah, why do we love to eat them after hurting the chicken?

I am more happy knowing we Igorots have the Pinikpikan to associate to our culture and tradition.

All the best to your blog and to your thoughts of bringing the Igorots into the blogosphere =)