Chicken Halang-Halang

Chicken Halang-Halang is sure to be a family favorite. It’s easy to make and flavored with coconut milk, lemongrass, and chili peppers for a creamy and spicy dish you’ll love with steamed rice.

Ever since I was introduced to creamy and spicy gising gising and Bicol Express, I’ve been on the lookout for other dishes that share the same big, bold flavors. I am so excited to discover chicken halang halang and add it to my list of favorites on the blog!

What is halang-halang

Halang-Halang is a Visayan dish, which literally means “spicy, spicy.”  Although similar to Chicken Kare-Kare in its use of ginger and papaya, it has added heat from chili peppers, a hint of citrusy flavor from lemongrass, and richness from coconut milk.

Like most dishes, there are different ways to make halang halang. While the recipe below is more popular in the Cebu region, other versions are flavored with soy sauce and vinegar instead of coconut milk.

Ingredient notes

  • Chicken– bone-in chicken for extra depth of flavor, but boneless thigh or breast meat can serve as a convenient alternative
  • Coconut milk– adds richness and creaminess
  • Lemongrass– locally known as tanglad; adds a hint of citrusy flavor
  • Aromatics– onions, garlic, and ginger create layers of flavor and aroma
  • Fish sauce– brings a salty, umami taste.
  • Papaya– Not a fan of papaya? Swap with chayote or bamboo shoots.
  • Seasonings– adjust taste with salt
  • Spinach– malunggay or fresh chili leaves are also good options
  • Chili Peppers– adds a kick of heat. You can use siling haba, siling labuyo, or a combination

How to prepare lemongrass

  • Remove and discard the dark green layers of the lemongrass until you get to the lighter green part. With a knife, cut into 3 to 4-inch lengths.
  • Using the back of the knife, pound the ends of lemongrass to release flavor.

    Chicken halang halang cooking steps

  1. Brown chicken– heat oil in a wide pot and saute the aromatics until softened. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned. Season with fish sauce and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add coconut milk, chili peppers, and lemongrass, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer– cook on low heat until chicken is cooked through. Add papaya and continue to cook until the vegetable is tender and the sauce is slightly thickened.
  4. Season- discard lemongrasand adjust the taste with salt. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.

Cooking Tips

  • Cut ingredient into uniform sizes to ensure even cooking.
  • For a smoother sauce, do not bring the coconut milk to a hard boil lest it curdles and separates.
  • To tame the heat, scrape off the seeds from the chili peppers before chopping.

How to serve and store

  • Chicken halang-halang makes a delicious and filling main dish for lunch or dinner. Serve it with steamed rice and spiced patis for dipping!
  • This soup spoils quickly outside refrigeration, especially in warmer weather, as it contains coconut milk. Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. While this is longer storage, the sauce might separate when frozen and reheated, and vegetables might become mushy.
  • Reheat in a saucepan over low heat to 165 F.

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