The Happy Home Cook: Binacol na Manok (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Water)

Binacol na Manok (Source: Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine (2nd Expanded Edition)

Binacol na Manok (Source: Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine (2nd Expanded Edition)

This dish originated in Iloilo. It is traditionally cooked in an upright bamboo container (with the node at the bottom and a banana leaf cover) or in a coconut shell over a charcoal fire. The coconut water gives a distinct sweetness to the broth.

Serves 6


1 (500 g) whole chicken breast, bone-in
2 cloves (10 g) garlic
1 thumb-sized pc (25 g) ginger
1 (80 g) onion
3 stalks (60 g) lemongrass
2 cups (1/2 liter) fresh coconut water and 1 cup (250 g) coconut meat
4 stalks (40 g) spring onions
2 stems (125 g) chili (sili) leaves
2 tbsp (30 ml) cooking oil
¼ tbsp (3 g) peppercorns
¼ cup (60 ml) fish sauce (patis)
6 cups (1.5 liter) chicken broth
4 young coconut shells (optional)


  1. Wash the chicken.

  2. Crush, peel and mince garlic.

  3. Peel and chop the ginger.

  4. Peel and chop the onion finely.

  5. Cut off and discard the lemongrass leaves. Pound the bulb or the white part.

  6. If using young coconut, crack open each buko at the top. Reserve the water and scrape the meat (see quantities needed above). Reserve the shell and the top.

  7. Clean the spring onions and slice thinly.

  8. Remove chili leaves from their stem. Wash the leaves and discard stems.


  1. In a preheated pot, saute garlic, ginger and onion in oil.

  2. Add the chicken breast, lemongrass and peppercorns. Season with fish sauce.

  3. Add the chicken broth and coconut water. As soon as the broth begins to boil, reduce to simmer until the chicken meat is cooked.

  4. Strain the broth and place in the refrigerator to allow fat to solidify. Remove fat.

Just before serving:

  1. Return broth to the fire and bring to a boil. Return the chicken and coconut meat.

  2. Adjust seasoning with fish sauce.

  3. Add spring onions and chili leaves and serve immediately.

Serving suggestion:
Serve piping hot in individual coconut shells. Serve with cover on.


To make a clear broth, reduce the temperature the moment it comes to a boil, to barely simmering. If boiled too long, the broth becomes cloudy and the meat shrinks and dries out.

Free-range native chicken is always preferred, because it is more flavorful. It is often necessary to cook it longer, however, as the meat is tougher than the commercial variety.

From Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine (2nd Expanded Edition)