Hearty roast-and-rice christmas spread

Noche Buena Chicken with Peppermint Rice. / Photograph by Wrenn Sanchez for the Daily Tribune

Kamusta? Are you ready with your noche buena?

Besides ham, which is popularly known as the star of the Christmas Eve meal, the other must-have dish on the festive Pinoy table is roasted chicken or litson manok. Bought from a stall or homecooked, roasted chicken easily rises to the occasion when served with a variety of side dishes such as steamed vegetables, buttered corn, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes or flavored rice.

Don’t forget the gravy and the sawsawans or dipping sauces that we all love to add for more flavor and spice.

Here’s a tasty recipe that has the familiar taste of the stall-bought chicken but elevated in its flavors with fragrant lemon oil and fresh lemongrass. Patis and suka along with aromatics like garlic and onion make this chicken so savory that you’ll just want to eat it as it is and without any condiments.

For something new, the peppermint rice complements the sweetness of the meat (a result of the brown sugar in the marinade) with its minty taste.

Of course, the pandemic made people more in touch with their kitchen and many have bought new appliances like air fryers and microwave ovens. So I thought this recipe is also a great way to put those equipment to great use.

Enjoy! And may we all savor the warmth of home and family — the most important thing in this season of hope and joy, with or without a pandemic.

Malipayong Pasko sa inyong tanan!

Noche Buena Chicken with Peppermint Rice


1 whole chicken

For the marinade:

6 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

6 tbsp. brown sugar

10 drops lemon oil

For the stuffing:

2 medium-sized onion, chopped

4 head garlic, peeled and pounded

2 small ginger, crushed

2 stalks lemongrass, pounded

banana leaf, for lining pan

lemon for garnish


1. In a bowl, mix marinade and essential oil. Pour marinade on the chicken, making sure the liquid is evenly spread on its skin. Add remaining marinade into its cavity.

2. Let meat rest for at least 25 minutes.

3. Preheat air fryer at 180°C.

4. Stuff chicken with onions, garlic, ginger and lemongrass.

5. Place the chicken in the air fryer, breast side down over the banana leaves.

6. Cook for 25 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

Peppermint Rice


1 cup rice

1 cup hot water

Drops of green food color

4 drops of peppermint essential oil


1. In a microwaveable rice cooker container, place washed rice and one cup of hot water.

2. Add a few drops of green food color.

3. Microwave for 10 minutes.

4. Let cool and add a drop of peppermint oil. Mix the rice to make sure oil is evenly blended in it.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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