Sitting in North America, the most positive thing you can say about chicken is that it's cheap and of course with careful breeding, it has no fat. As a result, the tasteless, amorphous cuttings of chicken parts need to be covered and cooked in oil or drowned in spices and sauces or ground into pinky looking staff that can add a hint of protein to otherwise uninteresting meals but you know it wasn't always thus.
Come to rural Asia and running on the road under your wheels in full play with village children is the historic chicken that we knew in North America at the turn of the 20th. Entury.
They are not pretty. They're of the small size. They are the ultimate definition of free range if you can call village housing a range. But, they have a unique advantage. They actually have taste. They are the living memory of why many great culinary dishes of the 19th century had chicken at their core. What they lack in size, they make up for in a gusto of flavour that can make a soup or dumplings a living walk down your great grandmas cookbook.
Below is Speedy Recipe's youtube video of Tinolang Manok, Chicken, a traditional Filipino Chicken Soup recipe.
Asian village cuisine doesn't worry too much about niceties. Defeathered and cleaned, they're plucked into the stew pot, head, feet and all and given two to 3 hours of serious bubbling. Then they're cut into pieces usually crosswise so that the outcome requires work. In goes the chilli, garlic, spic and greens and the outcome is a dish most North American or even Europeans west of Poland can't even imagine.
The lesson in this is one we've all learned that the first loss in food when breeding makes the units bigger or better shaped or less fatty, is the flavour. The same lesson can be learned with Italian tomatoes or almost any Sicilian vegetables. Hello bulk...goodbye taste.
No one brings Asian chicken to North America and as they can't fly you're going to have to fly here. If for no other reason, these little scrawny road runners make a trip to Cambodia, or Laos or Myanmar worth a ticket.
For those who love travel, here are some of my top recommendations of places to visit.
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