My mommy's mom , my abuelita, is a no-nonsense self-educated Bicolana who signed her documents with her thumbprint. She is perhaps responsible for improvising from the original versions of many of our dishes. She is so creative that when my brother Billy was 3 years old, she taught him to recite the story of Jesus' passion weaving bits of Bicolano, Cebuano, Spanish and whatever other language to create a very original oratorical piece.
(Sample line: Si Hesus nag-agto sa balay ni Caiphas....Pag-tapos gi-purung-purungan...) Can't really remember most of the lines, pity they did not have digicams then. During Lent she will take Billy to priests and nuns so that he could perform the lines. Abuelita would be all smiles and so proud as the nuns and priests allowed them into their cloisters.
We know this dish as simply "Chuletas" . It is a very simple dish but what makes it interesting is its lightness and piquant flavor. This dish is very economical because the whipped egg white provides volume while the strong flavor used to cook the chicken provides the distinctly tarty taste.
1 chicken breast
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
1/8 cup water
salt as desired
oil for frying
Pound the garlic, peppercorn together, then add the vinegar, salt, and the water to the mixture and mix well. Place the chicken breast in a small covered pot and pour in the mixture and boil, making sure the chicken is evenly saturated with the liquid. Boil until done and when liquid has evaporated and has been absorbed by the chicken. (It will be good if chicken is left with a light liquid coat from its own oil and the liquid mixture. ) When cool, cut the chicken in thin strips--it's okay to keep the peppercorn and garlic bits in. Set aside.
Separate the yolk from the whites. Whip the egg white in a bowl until it very stiff.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
In a separate bowl, add the egg yolk to the well-beaten egg white. When pan is very hot, quickly put a tablespoon of the frothy re-united eggs in a saucer and mix in 1 tablespoon of the chicken. Drop the chicken and egg mixture as though you are making a small pan cake. Fry lightly and turn. If your pan is big, you can fry several chuletas at the same time but make sure they don't touch each other. It is important to work fast because the egg mixture tends to lose its frothiness when exposed to air too long.
Don't over-fry, these things taste better when a little moist inside--a light brown color on each side would be perfect.
For busy moms, you can do the chicken and chop them ahead, ready for cooking with the egg at your convenience. Food keeps well because of the vinegar.
My maid is too lazy to whip the egg to a peak --the result is disappointing but tolerable, oh well --so today I bought her an electric beater. I must insist you make sure the egg mixture is frothy when you put them to the fire!