When living (or working if you like) abroad, the most common inquiry you will receive from other Filipinos (“kababayan”) you will meet for the first time is the province you came from. It’s but natural of course. It is actually your first question to others as well. The question “From what province are you?” or as casually supplied in the local language “Anong probinsya ka (or mo)?” is the usual start of a usually warm conversation. You may be wondering why I have to mention this when the question is so ordinary, rather insignificant and probably won’t even require some brain processing to know the answer. Well, to most Filipinos it is, but to me it is something that always makes me think and smile.
Most of my childhood friends knew me as a full-blooded “Batangueno”, having spent most of my childhood days and critical formative years in Padre Garcia, Batangas where my father, 5 of my siblings and most of our relatives (from my father’s side) were born. My other friends whom I met during and after college and at the time I’m already working regard me as a true “Tarlaqueno”, having continuously live in Tarlac City, Tarlac with the whole family since I was a 6th grader. But that’s not all. My birth certificate has an important bit of information that will add more to that. I was born in San Antonio, Quezon, the town of my mother, her siblings and most of our relatives from her side making me a legitimate “Quezonian”.
Going back to the question “What province I came from?”, I bet you now have an idea why such a simple query would switch my brain into work mode and almost subsequently elicits a smile on my face. Yes, it may be a little complicated, but I came from all of the above. You could envy me for this. I consider myself as an amalgamation of several groups of awesome people; a Quezonian, a Batangueno and a Tarlaqueno all at the same time. I hailed from three great provinces, all of which I am truly proud of.
In as much as I have already been featuring some of the wonderful delicacies of Batangas and Tarlac provinces, let me now share a genuine cuisine of Quezon, a true pride of Lucena City – the sautéed or “guisado” fresh noodle dish known as “chami”. I bet you like that. I have long been dreaming to feature this dish after receiving numerous visits to my post “Loming Lipa”, another unique noodle dish concocted by the fine people of Batangas.
The golden opportunity came when our friend Lalaine obliged to share her yet another secret (not anymore, he he) personal recipe. Like my mom, Lalaine’s lovely mother (a close “kumare” of my mom) is a true Quezonian. Their family I believe is from Lucena City where “chami” is said to have originated. So Lalaine’s recipe has a direct linkage to the very people that developed it, an authentic “chami” I could say.
“Chami” is a sweet and spicy noodle dish made from fresh egg noodles called “miki” in the Philippines. It is basically a type of “pancit” sautéed with chicken, shrimps and vegetables. It is pretty much like “pancit miki” except that it is particularly sweet and spicy (“tamis-anghang”) having sugar and chilies in its ingredients apart from the traditional soy sauce.
In cooking the dish, the ingredients we need are: 2 cups parboiled chicken meat, (chicken breast or thigh seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked in about 2 cups water until just tender) diced or flaked, 1 - 2 cups peeled or shelled shrimp, 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced to small sizes and ½ head cabbage, roughly chopped, as shown above.
We also need 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) fresh egg noodles or “miki” (washed to get rid of excess oil and salt), about ½ cup soy sauce (please note, even in London they are (proudly) using a Philippine brand), 4 tbsp brown sugar, about 3 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 large onion, chopped, 6 gloves garlic, minced, 1 tsp freshly ground pepper and finally 1 - 2 bird’s eye chilies (add more if you like), minced, as shown below. Additionally, about 2 cups chicken broth from parboiling the chicken is needed.
In a large pan or wok, heat the vegetable oil and fry garlic until aromatic. Add in onion and when translucent, add in diced chicken followed by carrot. Continue sautéing with regular stirring.
Add in egg noodles and continue cooking on high heat until the noodles is slightly fried too (and won’t suck up much broth later). Add in soy sauce followed by the chicken broth. Season with freshly ground pepper and add in brown sugar. Continue cooking with regular stirring.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to attain the sweet and spicy (“tamis-anghang”) taste you like, and then add in chilies. Continuously stir while cooking.
When the noodles is almost done, add in cabbage and continue cooking for several minutes more, until the liquid is reduced and noodles is basically covered in slightly thick sauce.
Transfer in serving platters and serve immediately with your favorite bread and preferred dipping sauce such as the popular soy sauce + “calamansi” or lemon extract + chopped bird’s eye chilies. It’s hot and delicious! :-)
The dish can be eaten as side dish in a meal, breakfast to perk-up your morning, snack or “merienda” during coffee break or tea time and even mid-night snack if needed to stay awake late. Enjoy this spicy-yummy dish from Quezon! c“,)