Rock Cornish Hen Dry Steamed in Salt, Cinnamon & Star Anise (Pinaupo)

I started with basic Chinese stir-fry when I began cooking as a teenager. I just grew tired of the daily Sinigang na Bangus & Baboy, Fried Tilapia, Menudo, and Adobo my mom would always tell the household help to prep as dinner after school. These were the mainstays on the family dinner table almost daily. My dad never had a problem with his evening meals. He made his own Ilocano inspired fish stew smothered with some bottled salty fish paste which brought him comfort after a hard day’s work in the office. For me, it was pure agony on the dinner table. I just realized now why my dad dedicated time to cook his meals. It was a form of relaxation for him and the dishes were already very predictable. Meals were so flat that sometimes I would lock myself up in my room after dinner for having something so monotonous and gloomy. Until today, I have stopped cooking these specific dishes for the basic reason of having them almost religiously daily. I really haven’t changed my mind nor tried to cook them again; after so long time ago. I resorted to Chinese cooking which was simple, easy and definitely new to my taste buds.

During that time, whole chickens were relatively cheaper compared with other meat cuts. There were about three to four Magnolia whole chickens kept in the freezer besides the usual fish and pork, and I expected them to be cooked as adobo sometime soon. Before the household helpers would start making dinner, I would look into some worn out cookbooks and see other recipes that can be done with whole chickens without resorting to chopping. And, I saw a lot! I was also able to experiment with the Turbo Broiler which was a relatively new contraption and with the Filipino Style Wok. I was so surprised the helpers didn’t even bother to check what can be done besides the usual Adobo. The spices were all available in the grocery, and yet they strangled themselves to the normal and the usual. I had had enough with the common fare and went on to try something that was simple, but elegantly presentable: CHICKEN ‘PINAUPO.’

This dish was probably one of my first successful adventures into cooking an entire chicken. I had no knife skills back then. I would usually instruct the household help what to do with the aromatics and the meat and she would gladly slice, dice, and dissect whatever was said on the cookbook. Since Chicken ‘Pinaupo’ did not require any cutting nor slicing, it was an easy process to follow even by a novice and young cook like me.

The Chicken was not the end of it all. When I started some courses in Culinary Arts, I encountered more game and poultry which I haven’t heard of in my lifetime. They came in different sizes with various ways of cooking and stuffing. Others were wild and tasted very gamy, while some were just the smaller version of the chicken itself. There were breeds tailored specifically for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Easter and there were something of similar also so served on special occasions like Hens and Squabs. Wings, breast, and drumsticks were all sold separately for convenience; neatly arranged and stacked on the display cabinets. There were Turkey legs, breast and wings as well with specific purpose and use beside it. With this long line-up of Game and Poultry at my fingertips, I was able to experiment on each besides just sticking to the old chicken. I was able to try quail and had loved the way it tasted when it was marinated in spices and soy sauce for days. Quail eggs were as equally abundant. I gave the chicken a rest.

For this Chicken ‘Pinaupo,’ I decided to use a Rock Cornish Hen. The last time I cooked a Cornish Hen was back in Culinary School using Cognac for the sauce and wild rice as stuffing. It was one of the most succulent poultry I had tasted since. I also had to debone it first to stuff it with rice. That was the challenge for the day. It was elegant, easy and very new in my food dictionary, and it came out very juicy and tender.

Ingredients:
1 Rock Cornish Game Hen
½ a bag of Coarse Salt
2 Cinnamon Sticks
2 pcs. Star Anise
Black Peppercorns
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon
Orange Peel
Parsley Stems
1 Stalk Green Onion

1. Wash and pat-dry the Cornish hen and season with salt and five-spice powder inside out.

2. Insert the Lemon, Orange Peel, Garlic Cloves, Parsley Stems and Green Onion into the cavity of the Hen.

3. Truss the Hen with a butcher’s twine to keep it intact while cooking.

4. Spread the coarse salt at the bottom of a deep pan, and place the Cinnamon Stick, Star Anise and Black Peppercorns atop the salt bed.

5. Rest the Hen on top of the salt bed and cover the wok with a lid. Turn the heat to medium.

6. Remove the Hen from the wok, chop or serve as is.

I really never had any favourite dish growing up nor recall any special dish made by my mom, the household help and/or a neighbour. It was already a blessing when I had the opportunity to visit a neighbour’s party and feast on the food that was extraordinarily different from my family’s table. Rest-assured I would eat and pig-out. Food just tasted so much better if it was prepared by somebody else; away from the usual rickety-rack bangus and tilapia. I would, however, always try their chicken dish; fried or roasted most specifically. If there was a lechon, that would definitely be a major factor, and I wouldn’t forget that neighbour for life. I was safe having both even without rice, and usually, I would feast on the Roasted Chicken Legs first. It had had to be there on my plate beside the crispy and crunchy lechon skin. Moreover, everybody had bought their own Turbo Broilers, and each had their way of spicing and sprucing up a chicken using that wonderful contraption. Chicken ‘Pinaupo’ has a similar taste and feel as with the ‘Turbo’ Broiled Chicken; having less grease, but more juice. That was probably the only kitchen contraption I had loved growing up. Everything that came out of that mini-oven was just delectable. I learned it the hard way the first time I used it. I got my first taste of a burn.

 

“Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.

Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.  – Kulinarya Cooking Club

May Theme: Regional specialties of our province during Fiesta or Santacruzan, which are especially prepared by our Moms. – Elizabeth and Dudut

 

Rock Cornish Hen Dry Steamed in Salt, Cinnamon & Star Anise (Pinaupo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Rock Cornish Game Hen
  • ½ a bag of Coarse Salt
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 pcs. Star Anise
  • Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Lemon
  • Orange Peel
  • Parsley Stems
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion
Instructions
  1. Wash and pat-dry the Cornish hen and season with salt and five-spice powder inside out.
  2. Insert the Lemon, Orange Peel, Garlic Cloves, Parsley Stems and Green Onion into the cavity of the Hen.
  3. Truss the Hen with a butcher’s twine to keep it intact while cooking.
  4. Spread the coarse salt at the bottom of a deep pan, and place the Cinnamon Stick, Star Anise and Black Peppercorns atop the salt bed.
  5. Rest the Hen on top of the salt bed and cover the wok with a lid. Turn the heat to medium.
  6. Remove the Hen from the wok, chop or serve as is.

 

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About The Author: Erwin

When I was growing up, my parents and I used to eat out and try different restaurants after celebrating the Sunday Mass. Moreover, during the course of the summer break, I had the opportunity to see some places which, when looking back, I had never realized how lucky I was as a teen to be able to travel. My family and I went to Europe and some parts of the United States, and what I saw along that path of my life inspired me to become a 'Chef.' The 'whites' they wore for me, during those growing-up and finding 'myself' years, portrayed a sort of fascinating and powerful figure in an extremely sophisticated, higly inviting and invigorating work place; and still maintain an unblemished and clean uniform after a very busy service. That picture of a 'Chef' stuck to my head for so many years. True enough, with meager resources left to spend for the youngest, that dream never happened. Life went on. I went to university and studied an insignificant course, Business Management, and after graduating, I ended up working as a Credit and Financial Analyst in the banking industry in Manila; slugging it out in the corporate arena in Makati. It was the first taste of being called a 'yuppie' and was almost always looking forward to an after-office eating and drinking extravaganza in the expanding and growing Makati Business District; and, of course, the weekend. Anyway, forging ahead to my life today, that dream as 'Chef' stayed in the back of my mind all the time that when I left the Philippines for Toronto in 2003; and after finally settling down on my own in 2005, I had started studying Professional Culinary Arts Courses in the City College to get that almost long-forgotten 'dream' going again. It was a Continuing Education Course, and more or less, students who have also shifted careers or who were trying to find work (like myself) as a newly landed found ourselves working with pots, knives and fire which I believe and I felt, everyone in class have never, ever touched during their past, professional lives. Since then, I have been working in and out of different kitchens; flipping eggs and hamburgers, grilling steaks, shoving bread and chicken in a 500'C oven, and almost anything that can be either deep-fried or toasted just to serve hungry, sometimes pesky, customers. I became a 'grease' cook; a short-order cook with no definite place of employment, and definitely not a 'Chef.' My articles are based on the after-thoughts of my past and present day experiences in this fast-paced, starkling, and sometimes disheveling kitchen environment. I never imagined that a kitchen 'worklife' turned that way as against the 'Ideal' environment I had thought about for years. No regrets. During this journey, I've discovered food which I've never thought I'd be able to taste. I learned to appreciate wine and travel more; now that I have understood the culture of food to society. That was non-existent when I was growing up. This journey has not ended. I'm still discovering and still learning. It's a tough industry to be in and for what's next or for where I'll finally end up in remain a sordid mystery.

Discuss - 15 Comments

  1. […] I suddenly remember the horror I felt when I saw my face tagged in my hometown friend’s… »Rock Cornish Hen Dry Steamed in Salt, Cinnamon & Star Anise (Pinaupo)I started with basic Chinese stir-fry when I began cooking as a teenager. I just grew tired of the […]

  2. Isn’t this just a great classic recipe? I love your addition of star anise/ sangke — really adds that special flavor! Glad to be visiting your blog & enjoying your stories. Thanks for sharing !
    Elizabeth @Mango_Queen recently posted Filipino Pork Barbecue on the Grill

  3. malou says:

    your pinaupong manok looks juicy and betty ann is right, like betty ann i feel that the addition of anise gives a different touch. thank you for your contribution for this month’s kulinarya!
    malou

  4. One of the dishes I learned from my mom was oven roasted chicken. My dad would cook Pinaupong Manok on a bed of charcoal. But your rendition was quit clever. I love the zest the lemon would give to the meat of the game and the salt bed is a genius! Good job on this!
    Joy Felizardo recently posted Crispy Noodles with Beef and Oyster Sauce

  5. […] Pinaupo – Erwin of Iskandals Ensaladang Talong – Jenn of Storm in My Kitchen Lumpiang Ubod in Pandan Wrapper – Day of Chef by Day Baked Binagoongan – Gio of Hungry Giant Dinakdakan and Dinengdeng  – Malou of Skip to Malou Crispy Noodles with Beef and Oyster – Joy of Gastronomy by Joy […]

  6. wok with ray says:

    This is a classic delish. With all of those stuffing, I would say it must taste really good. Thank you for sharing this delicious Kulinarya entry.

  7. Iska says:

    Your post inspired me to try this cooking technique and the dish turned out awesome – chicken is tender and juicy. Thank you! It’s not ‘pinaupo’ though because I butterflied the chicken and used different flavours.

  8. Never tried this with Anis and cinnamon stick.. Gagayahin ko to! bookmarked!

  9. Day Salonga says:

    This looks yummy and your cooking technique is very interesting ! #1 on my what-to-cook-list ! Thanks for sharing !!!

  10. […] Truth be told, I had no idea how to cook pinaupong manok until I read Erwin’s dry-steamed Rock Cornish hen. Dry steamed in rock salt – how cool is that? I know right away I have to try it. […]

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