The Kapampangan Bringhe is the regional rice specialty in the Pampanga province. It is also popular in neighboring Tarlac where I grew up, and thus my mother learned how to cook this from recipes handed down by my father’s side of the family.
Bringhe (say ‘bring-he’) has some similarities to the Spanish influenced Filipino classic Arroz a la Valenciana, but these dishes are NOT the same. Arroz Valenciana, a richly-laden rice dish with meat, seafood and vegetables, was also derived from the traditional Spanish Paella. I shared my mom Lulu’s recipe for Arroz a la Valenciana in my newest book, a food and history memoir Every Ounce of Courage. More details here.
What is Bringhe?
Bringhe, is known as the poor man’s paella, according to the late food historian Gilda Cordero – Fernando in her book Philippine Food and Life (Anvil Publishing 1992). This rice and chicken dish flavored with turmeric and cooked in gata (coconut milk) is often served at weddings and fiestas in the provinces of Central Luzon. A large amount of bringhe is cooked and placed in a big bilao (round, flat basket) lined with banana leaves. Often, the bringhe is served by scooping the yellow rice into a cup and turning it over, molded like a small hill, on a guest’s plate.
I grew up enjoying my mother’s bringhe during Sunday dinners or if we had friends or family visiting. I also saw it often served during the town fiestas, together with favorite Filipino dishes like lechon, lumpia, pork barbecue, pancit, and other party fare.
The ease and availability of fresh coconut, turmeric also known as luyang dilaw, malagkit (sweet rice), and chickens from the local poultries, made this a popular, delicious entrée to prepare in Pampanga and Tarlac. Bringhe’s deliciousness and popularity has spread to Manila, and neighboring provinces and cities, as well.
In my case, we hadn’t had Bringhe in a long time. So, here in my American kitchen, I cooked this scrumptious rice dish for our Sunday supper. Serendipitously today was Kapampangan Day, and I saw a family recipe for Bringhe by Chef Jam Morales on his Meta/ Facebook page. This reminded me of all those times my mother prepared bringhe, and I was her little helper. My task was to wash the malagkit rice a few times before cooking.
What Ingredients Do I Need?
This is a special-occasion dish that needs basic, uncomplicated ingredients.
Bringhe comes together with the following:
- Vegetable cooking oil
- Turmeric – fresh or powdered. Also known as luyang dilaw.
- Red bell peppers
- Sweet rice or “malagkit” to Filipinos
- Chicken cuts, preferably boneless to cook faster and evenly
- Chicken broth
- Coconut milk
- Ground black pepper
- Banana leaves – fresh or frozen, to line the skillet or wok
- 2 skillets or woks
- Instant Pot multicooker – if using
- Chopping board
How to Cook Bringhe
My version offers 2 alternative ways to cook bringhe.
Option 1 – the classic way: The basic ingredients of rice and chicken can be cooked by sauteing in a skillet, and allowing the rice and meat to cook together over a slow simmer. Consistent stirring is needed every so often.
Then, after the rice and meats, flavored with the condiments are cooked completely, the assembly is transferred to another skillet lined with banana leaves, for a prolonged simmer over low heat – to achieve the delectable, highly coveted crusty rice layer at the bottom and on top.
Option 2 – the second alternative method is to first cook the rice and chicken in the Instant Pot Multicooker. Then transfer the cooked rice to the skillet lined with leaves, to achieve the crisp layer on the top and the bottom.
Why I Share Two Alternative Ways to Cook Bringhe
The world moves fast, and the days fly by whether we like it of not. We love classic Philippine dishes, but the world we live in now demands dishes cooked with ease and convenience. As a working wife and mother, I have always known that feeling of stress and anxiety when dinner needs to be cooked and we only have so much time in a day to do it all. And so, I try to find ways to cook faster, without losing the soul of the familiar Filipino flavors. As famous food writer Doreen Gamboa Fernandez said in Tikim : “Traditional ways are wonderful, but new ways can create a dish anew – without betraying tradition.”
Bringhe Kapampangan – Instant Pot + Stovetop
- 2 large skillets or woks (about 14 inches diameter)
- 1 Instant Pot multicooker (6 to 8 quarts), if using
- chopping board
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 whole red or green bell pepper, seeded, sliced in strips; divided, use half for saute, rest for garnish
- 1.5 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips, 3-inch length
- 1 Tablespoon patis (fish sauce), like Red Boat
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 cups malagkit (sweet rice); washed and soaked at least 6 hours
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups canned coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 large whole pieces banana leaves, cut to fit the bottom and top of the skillet; around 11 x 14 inches each piece; washed and dried
- 2 to 3 whole hard-boiled eggs, sliced
To Cook the Bringhe the Traditional Way – Stovetop (Option 1)
- Prepare the rice: Wash the rice 3 times with water. Then pre-soak the malagkit rice grains in a bowl with water for at least 6 hours, covered, in the refrigerator. This allows the rice grains to swell. Then drain and discard the liquid. Set malagkit rice aside.
- To cook the Bringhe: In a large skillet or wok, over medium-high heat, add the oil.When oil is hot enough in 1 to 2 minutes, saute the garlic, onions, and peppers.
- Add the sliced chicken to the skillet. Pour the patis (fish sauce). Stir around and let the chicken brown for about 5 minutes.Add the turmeric powder. Blend ingredients well.
- Add the pre-soaked malagkit rice to the chicken in the skillet. Blend the rice and meat well with the rest of the ingredients.Stir the rice around for around 2 to 3 minutes, till you notice the grains start to get puffy.
- Pour the chicken broth and coconut milk into the skillet. Mix ingredients well.Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and lower heat to a simmer. Every so often, stir the rice around gently so it does not stick to the bottom.Over the low simmer, continue cooking till rice and chicken are completely done, in about 15 to 18 minutes. The liquids should have been totally absorbed by the rice.*Tip: Taste a bite of the grains to check if the rice is soft and cooked. If rice is still tough, it is still uncooked. Continue cooking on low simmer for 5 to 6 minutes more.
- Prepare the second skillet or wok by lining the bottom of the pan with around 2 large pieces of banana leaves. Transfer the cooked rice and chicken over the banana leaves. Sometimes, the rice grains will cling together and take on the round shape of the wok or skillet.Place the remaining banana leaves over the cooked rice and chicken.
- Cover and cook on a low simmer, till a crisp, toasted layer of rice forms at the bottom of the skillet and on top, underneath the covering of banana leaves. This takes about 20 minutes.
- To serve: When cooked completely, turn the Bringhe over on a platter lined with banana leaves. It may have formed the round shape of the skillet of wok and would probably have a crusty layer on top.Garnish with slices of hard-boiled eggs and bell peppers. Serve warm.
To cook the Bringhe in the Instant Pot (Option 2)
- Prepare the rice: wash in water 3 times. Soak in a bowl with water and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Drain liquid. Set rice aside.To cook bringhe: Turn on the Saute function on the keypad of the Instant Pot multicooker.Pour the vegetable oil. In about 1 to 2 minutes, the oil will be hot enough.Saute the garlic, onions and bell pepper slices. Add the chicken slices and patis. Stir chicken around to blend. Let the chicken cook for about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the turmeric powder. Add the rice grains.Stir rice grains around for 1 to 2 minutes till they get puffy.Pour the broth and the coconut milk.Season with salt and pepper.
- Turn off the Saute function on the keypad by hitting Cancel.Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Set the valve to sealing.Click on High Pressure + Manual . Select on the keypad: Rice. This cooks for about 14 minutes in the Instant Pot.
- When the timer buzzes to signal cooking is complete, do a quick release (let the steam come down on its own by turning the valve facing you).
- Open and unlock the lid carefully and set the lid on a dry place of the counter.Give the rice and meat time to cool down and be easy to handle, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked rice and chicken into the second skillet or wok lined with banana leaves at the bottom. Spread the rice and chicken mixture evenly, packing it in the skillet. Cover with the remaining banana leaves on top. Cover the skillet, and cook over a slow simmer till the bottom takes on a crisp, slightly toasted layer, about 15 to 20 minutes.Watch that the rice mixture doesn't totally burn – keep an eye on the skillet.
- To serve: Turn over the Bringhe on a large serving bowl or platter. Garnish the top with the sliced hardboiled eggs and slices of bell pepper.
- Ingredient substitute: I used turmeric powder for this recipe because fresh turmeric, also known as luyang dilaw to Filipinos, was not available in the markets. If you have access to fresh turmeric, you can use 1 piece, peeled and grated, to make around 1/2 cup. Turmeric adds a depth of flavor to the recipe, with hints of fresh ginger, and a robust peppery profile. It also gives the dish that golden yellow color.Instant Pot: is a multicooker that uses both High Pressure and Low Pressure cooking. Instant Pot is the brand name. There are other multicooker appliances of different brands and can be used, as well. Please read the manual for safety precautions.To store leftovers: If there are leftovers, keep the Bringhe in a covered container, refrigerated. This lasts about 5 to 7 days in the ref. Or freeze the Bringhe in an air-tight plastic container and it can keep up to 1 month in the freezer. To reheat, thaw and heat in the microwave or stovetop.
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