Whenever we ate a good meal like this Steamed Chicken with Chinese Sausages and Vegetables, my dad remembered his sisters with fondness. His sisters Luz and Unding (short for Lourdes) cooked the best dishes. My aunts, Luz and Unding Besa cooked the way women of their time did – slow cooked good food from simple, basic ingredients and produce homegrown in their backyards. For my aunts, cooking from scratch was an art form that was perfected into a science.
In her youth, Tita Luz was a beauty queen (Tita is a term to address aunts in the Philippines). As a pretty lass, she was crowned Miss Tarlac 1927 during the annual fiesta, a town celebration in honor of its patron saint. Our family was from Tarlac, a province north of Manila. As Miss Tarlac, my aunt Luz chose Arturo Ilagan, an engineer to be her escort. Later they married and had seven children.
In this photo filed in our family album by my father, Gualberto Besa, are my father’s sisters Luz Besa-Ilagan (standing) and Lourdes ‘Unding’ Besa (seated). This was taken in the 1920s.
I got to know my Tita Luz Besa Ilagan well when I was growing up. After college, I lived with my aunt Luz and Tio Art in Manila. When I came home from work, I would find her in the kitchen, chopping, mixing, and getting dinner ready. She was a perfectionist. Her cooking expertise was legendary in our family. Our reunions were defined by the good food that my aunts and my mom brought to the table. We all looked forward to Tita Luz’s dishes.
My regret was I never asked Tita Luz for her recipes. The kitchen was her domain. In her spare time, she patiently peeled garlic. I used to watch her cook. Sometimes, I’d help peel or slice. I never saw her open a cookbook. Her recipes were done from memory or tested by her discriminating palate.
I was sent “The Filipino Family Cookbook” by Angelo Comsti as a gift from my cousins. A family recipe from Tita Luz had been contributed by my cousin, Amy Besa, restaurant owner of Purple Yam and cookbook author herself. I used the recipe from Tita Luz in the cookbook as a jump off point for this Steamed Chicken with Vegetables and Chinese Sausages. It was perfect for Easter Sunday. It had gently steamed chicken cutlets, glazed Chinese sausages, leafy greens, carrot and potato slices, all moistened by a clear broth with rice wine.
Family recipes are the best. They defy the test of time. They transcend all ages and geographical locations. You don’t need to download an app to get a recipe. You only need to remember the flavor with your senses, the feeling you got at the first bite with a memory. Like the whiff of the sweet Chinese sausages, the aroma from the steam of the ginger-seasoned chicken, the remembrance of family dinners came back to me swiftly. It was sheer happiness.
Steamed Chicken with Chinese Sausages and Vegetables
- Large multi-layer Steamer: For stove-top (bamboo or stainless steel)
- 1 whole medium-sized Napa cabbage bottom trimmed, washed, separate leaves, keep leaves whole to line dish
- 2.5 pounds pounds chicken cutlets, bone-in, skin-on about 6 pieces, bone-in
- 3 whole (3.3 g. each) Chinese sausages (lap cheong) or Tsorizong Macau
- 2 whole medium-sized potatoes peeled, quartered
- 1 whole large carrot peeled, sliced
- 1 cup sliced green beans edges trimmed, cut in 2-inch pieces
- 1 whole bok choy (pechay) bottom trimmed; leaves washed and separated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 whole white or yellow onion sliced
- 1 piece (1-inch) fresh ginger peeled, sliced in thin sticks
- 2 stalks scallions divided, chop whites for cooking, green parts for garnish
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Shao xing rice wine
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- for serving: boiled rice white or brown
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
- Prepare a two-layered steamer. Fill the bottom pot with water, about ¾ of the container. Set on the stove over high heat. Cover the bottom pot so the water starts to heat up to boiling.
- Separately prepare a heatproof round dish with a rim that can catch the juices.(I used a large Pyrex pie plate). Make sure the round dish fits the inside of the steamer.
- Wash and separate the napa cabbage leaves. Put them around the round dish as a liner for the rest of the ingredients.
- Place the chicken in the center of the dish. Add sausage slices around the chicken. (Note: in my steamer, the heat is more intense in the center so I position meats here to cook thoroughly).
- Arrange the potatoes, carrots, green beans, bok choy shreds around the chicken and sausages. Scatter the garlic, onions, ginger, scallions all over.
- In a small bowl, mix the organic chicken broth, tamari sauce, rice wine, sesame oil. Pour this liquid mixture over the chicken, sausages and vegetables. Season with salt and black pepper powder all over.
- By this time, the water in the bottom pot has started to boil. Place the chicken dish inside the upper layer which has holes. Put this atop the bottom pot that has the boiling water. Cover the upper layer of the steamer. Steam and cook for about 55 minutes or till chicken is completely done. The chicken should have no pink parts.
- To serve: arrange the chicken, sausages and vegetables in a large platter. Pour the broth from the cooking over the dish. Garnish with chopped scallions or parsley if desired. Serve with boiled rice, either white or brown.
- Cook’s comments: tamari sauce is a low sodium, gluten-free soy sauce I used to add flavor to this dish. They are sold in major supermarkets or online sources for Asian ingredients. If preferred, use regular soy sauce.
- Ingredient substitute: I have posted a blog recipe using Chinese sausages known as ‘Tsorizong Macau’ in the Philippines. They are also called ‘lap cheong’. These contain pork, lard and seasonings for a sweet, smoky, robust flavor. Some sausage varieties have chilies and add strong spicy taste to the recipe. I chose a regular, sweet variety that contains Chinese rice wine. These are packaged in plastic bags, already pre-cooked and can be found in Asian markets by the frozen meat section. For a substitute, use savory slices of cooked ham and the dish is just as flavorful.
- Disclosure: I received “The Filipino Family Cookbook” by Angelo Comsti (published by Marshall Cavendish Cuisine) as a gift (‘pasalubong’) from my Besa-Ilagan cousins in Manila. They sent it to me here in the States. I was not paid to review or mention the book. But I will gladly endorse it for the amazing collection of Philippine heirloom recipes. Find it on my Amazon tab “Shop For It”. Click here and search under ‘Philippine cookbooks’.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
Copyright Notice: Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]