Bachelor Chow, Filipina Style

I’ve been eating some form of bachelor chow ever since I finished college. It’s almost always done in a rice cooker. The chow is composed of a grain (usually brown rice and barley), an animal protein (chicken thighs more often than not), some veggies and some flavoring. When timed properly the grain, protein and veggies are all done at the same time. When timed wrong, I ate it anyway.

The dirty kitchens of the apartments all open onto a common walkway, so it’s easy to hear and smell what is being prepared next door. One day I heard sauteing, followed my nose and learned a new form of bachelor chow.

Prior to this I had noticed that there are many forms of canned tuna, sardines and mackerel in the market. Some are in oil, a few are in water and some have a flavored sauce. I tried a couple of the flavored ones by simply dumping the contents of the can on the finished rice when my kitchen was too empty to do anything else. The results were not as good as I hoped.

Flavored Tuna

The girl next door showed me what I did wrong. She sauted some onions then added a veggie that takes several minutes to saute. She then dumped the liquid part of the sauce from several cans of sardine into the pan and added the quick cooking veggies. More liquid was added before the original sauce disappeared. She used a combo of beer, water and soy sauce but said that coconut milk or vinegar can also be used, depending on the flavors of the canned sauce. The sardines were added just to warm them up and the mixture was ready to be served over rice.

I’ve tried it several times, each time with a different flavor and set of veggies. I haven’t found one yet that has made my personal bachelor chow hall of fame but I’m still working on it.


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