Sprigs of wansoy [wahn-soi]. Slivers of green onions.

Garlic crushed and browned. Eggs hard boiled and halved.

I arranged the garnishes neatly on the kitchen counter, next to the bowls of egg noodles. The garnishes replaced the mise en place I prepared the day before: a large yellow onion quartered, carrots, celery, and a leek cut in pieces, a pair of bay leaves, and cracked black peppercorns, which all went into a pot along with chicken bones I roasted in the oven. I simmered the bones and aromatics slowly for hours, letting the flavors meld into a delicate stock for homemade chicken mami.

Mami [mah-mee] is a dish of noodles, chicken, pork or beef, and broth. The origins of the Filipino noodle soup can be traced back to the pioneering Chinese peddlers and restaurateurs who immigrated to the Philippines. Mami is eaten any time of the day, typically paired with steamed pork buns — siopao — or steamed pork dumplings — siomai.

Because it is so simple to make, my mom always insists on making stock from scratch and using it as the base for her noodle soup. I must admit, however, that I’ve succumbed to the convenience of cubed broth far too many times but stock simmered slowly from bones and aromatics is unmatched. And it’s all about the garnish, my mom has taught me. Always with hard boiled eggs. With garlic and green onions, of course. And with fragrant leaves of cilantro, which Filipinos call wansoy.

I ladled the steaming stock into the bowls. I had a whiff of wansoy before I laid the leaves on the bed of noodles. Its strong, heady scent wetted my appetite. I could have a bowl of hot noodle soup everyday, I thought. What could be more simple and more satisfying? Nothing, in my book. Nothing, indeed.

 

Wansoy

 

Chicken Stock Recipe, makes 3 quarts

4 pounds chicken bones, necks, backs, wings, and legs
1 large onion, quartered
2 large carrots, peeled and quartered
4 celery ribs, quartered
1 large leek, white part only and halved lengthwise
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns, cracked

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut big bones like backs into smaller pieces and place them on a baking pan. Roast chicken bones in the oven until browned, about 30 minutes.

Put roasted bones and fat in a stockpot. Add onion, carrots, celery, leek, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Add water, enough to just cover the bones and aromatics, about 3 quarts. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let it simmer gently. Skim the scum from the stock with a spoon occasionally. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours. The longer you simmer, the richer the stock becomes.

Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or large bowl. Discard bones and aromatics. Let the stock cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of stock. Store in containers with lids or ziploc bags in refrigerator for a few days or in freezer for a few months.

Before using as a base for soups and sauces, bring to boil for a few minutes.

 

Chicken Mami Recipe, makes six servings

1 15-ounce package fresh egg noodles
6 to 8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 pound boneless chicken breast
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 large eggs, hard boiled and halved
6 cloves garlic, crushed and fried
2 stalks spring onions, green and white parts chopped
1 small bunch of wansoy

Cook egg noodles according to package instructions. Dried noodles can be used in place of fresh noodles. Drain and divide equally into six bowls.

Bring homemade chicken stock to boil in a stockpot. Add chicken breast and boil until cooked through. Drain chicken breast, shred with a fork, and divide equally into the bowls of noodles.

Add soy sauce to stock. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to boil for a few minutes. Ladle stock into the bowls of noodles. Garnish with hard boiled eggs, fried garlic, green onions, and wansoy.

 

Chicken Mami Noodles

Chicken Mami

Chicken Mami

 

Learn the alphabet of Filipino food through our glossary. So much is lost in translation, I know, but I hope this glossary will help those unfamiliar with Filipino food become more informed.

A is for Achuete
B is for Barako Coffee
C is for Camarón
D is for Dinuguan
E is for Ensaimada
F is for Fish Balls
G is for Gata
H is for Himagas
I is for Itlog na Maalat
J is for Jackfruit
K is for Kamayan
L is for Longganisa
M is for Mani
N is for Noche Buena
O is for Omelet
P is for Pancit Palabok
Q is for Queso
R is for Relleno
S is for Sawsawan
T is for Tutong
U is for Ube
V is for Visayas
W is for Wansoy

  • Adam J. Holland

    Delicious — both the photography and the dish!

  • http://www.facebook.com/NieceyRoy Niecey Roy-RomanceAuthor

    We are supposed to be hit by a blizzard tonight and tomorrow. This looks like the perfect recipe for a very cold snow day!

  • Jasmin

    I will be making this tonight! It’s been so chilly lately and I love noodle soup :) Thank you Jun for all your wonderful recipes!

  • Anonymous

    Now how did you know that I was craving noodles in soup?! Your mom is right to insist on homemade stock- it makes such a difference. The photography is especially wonderful today- the beauty shot of wansoy and the bowls of noodles in a row are my favorites. This will be our Saturday night dinner this weekend. Thanks Jun!

  • Lulu

    What time is dinner? I shall be over. LOL! Now I know what “cilantro” is in Tagalog. I never new this. LOL! I will definitely make this . . .but you ready for this? I might use the organic chicken broth. Actually I’ve made chicken broth before so we shall see. You know me, I tend to be lazy, but at least no more “packet” seasonings for me. LOL! Thanks Jun for sharing!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    I can read your mind, Samantha!

    My mom usually mixes chicken with pig bones when she makes stock. But the trick about roasting the bones — I learned that from you — so thank you!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Adam, thank you for the kind compliments!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Yes! No need for Mama Sita’s!

    Making stock is a huge commitment. Even is it’s just simmering the bones it’s 3 to 4 hours of your time. But it’s well worth it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/arthurb3 Arthur B Raleigh

    Perfect!

  • Row

    Just had a light bulb moment there… cilantro is wansoy! I didn’t like it at first, but it grew on me and now I try to use it as much as I can. Mami and siopao was one of my favourite afternoon snacks at my parents’ place. Now, it’s a favourite at my place. Thanks for your recipe. :)

  • Charity Jean.

    can’t wait to try this! my mother always made this for me when it was a cold, rainy day. now that i’ve moved out, i’ve been exploring and trying to recreate the dishes she made for me growing up since i can’t have it everyday! and being pregnant just gives me more and more cravings for filipino food! such a wonderful blog ! :)

  • http://80breakfasts.blogspot.com/ joey @ 80 Breakfasts

    I love this series of yours! You’ve hit all the favorites and classics! I love this…especially on a rainy night. The smell and flavor of wansoy is one of my favorites!

  • gemma byrne

    hi jun, i follow your blog for its stories, recipes and photography, but not necessarily in that order, and i must say i love all three! your mami post prompted me to go to chinatown for some egg noodles. the pork neck bones at the chinese market looked so fresh (and cheap) that i ended up using it in place of chicken bones. we had several servings of this soulful dish and i intend to make this again every weekend till the end of winter.
    thank you so much for your blog.
    best,
    gemma

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Gemma, thank you so much for the very thoughtful note. I am so happy to hear you are enjoying the blog. Pork neck bones? Those make really good stock!

  • Jean

    Hi Jun—We’re having early freezing temps here in the East Coast for almost a week now.
    Redskins & Ravens played in the snow last Sunday, 12/08/13. I had Arroz
    Caldo while watching the games, and my next go-to cold weather soup and faster to make
    is Chicken Mami. Searched the blogs to check the commonly used noodles as an option to what I use, disappointed Adora doesn’t have a post. I’m more interested in her set-up,
    matches the food very well. Then I saw your post on wansoy. My lola called
    cilantro, kinchay. I’ve heard some call it wansoy and never like it ‘cuz they
    said it taste like cockroach. How do they know the taste of cockroach is beyond
    me?—jean @thechewinn-NoVA.com