Filipino Pantry Chicken Caesar Salad

Imagine, if you will, a Chicken Caesar Salad.

Cool. Crisp. Creamy.


A classic dish, some may say.


A Chicken Caesar Salad!


It looks innocent enough doesn't it? But, that is no ordinary Chicken Caesar Salad.

Look closer.


Closer still!!!

That is a salad that has traveled the space-time continuum. A salad, constructed from the unusual. A salad so familiar, yet… so… strange.

What's so strange about it you ask?

This salad was created from the following ingredients…




Those things can't combine to create a classic chicken caesar salad can they?

Oh, yes they can. Yes they can!


Ladies and Gentlemen. You've just crossed over into…

The Filipino Pantry Zone!


That’s Marvin. A typical Filipino-American male. He enjoys lumpia, and tacky wooden trinkets fill his heart with happiness.

It’s midday on a typical Sunday, and Marvin is sitting in his favorite chair, watching football with his reddened eyes glazed and his mouth ever so agape. He’s a mouth breather.


Grumble, grumble, grumble.  Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Marvin then averts his reddened gaze from the television to his belly.

“Put some food in me, you lazy son of a bitch! Cookies and coffee does not a complete breakfast make!” his stomach seemed to scream.

“Wait till halftime, you ungrateful bastard! Those cookies were homemade by my wife!” Marvin yelled back at his boisterous belly. “In the meantime, have some of this!”

Marvin then downed the last of his Bluecoat martini, then gingerly picked, one by one, the  three anchovy-stuffed olives from his glass and plopped them into his mouth.

“Olives till the half you ass!” Marvin yelled to his stomach.

Alas, it was barely the start of the 2nd quarter.

Grumble, grumble, blehhhhh. Grumble, grumble, blehhhhh.

The tippel and olives were not enough to sate the emtpy stomach.

“Some of this then, I say!” Marvin yelled just before he had a beer. And another.

Grumble, grumble, hiccup. Grumble, grumble, hiccup.

The empty stomach, though dazed, still had an insatiable urge for something, anything, a bit more solid than booze.  Marvin then arose from his throne and stumbled into his kitchen. He opened his refrigerator and spied some leftover chicken adobo.

“Eh. I’m tired of chicken adobo. Me tummy want somethin else,” thought the drunken Pinoy.

Then, from the corner of his eye, he saw a glimmer of hot pink. A pink so pink that it reminded him of Jem’s eyeshadow: It was outrageous. Truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly, outrageous.

It was  a jar of bagoong hiding in his refrigerator door. Stinky. Tasty. Bagoong. Marvin then saw some romaine lettuce. He swiveled his head around and found some garlic, kalamansi, and some pandesal rolls on his kitchen counter.

Grumble, grumble, Chicken Caesar Salad! Grumble, grumble, Chicken Caesar Salad!

“Chicken Caesar what?!! That don’t make no sense!” thought the perplexed Pinoy.

“Trust me,” said the empty stomach.

Marvin then gathered his ingredients, and took a picture of them. And numbered them. Because he’s a drunken weirdo that takes pictures of his food and assigns numerical values to each of them.


1. Bagoong: salty and very pungent fermented shrimp paste used as a condiment in Filipino cuisine.
2. Romaine lettuce.
3. Pandesal rolls.
4. Leftover chicken adobo.
5. Garlic.
6. Kalamansi limes.

Strange indeed.

The inebriated one then peeled and cut a large garlic clove in half, and rubbed one of the halves all over the inside of a large bowl. He then placed both garlic halves in a skillet of hot oil and fried them till golden brown and delicious.

“Don’t burn the garlic!” yelled the belly.

Our alcoholic-in-denial then removed and discarded the garlic from the oil. He then placed some cubed pandesal into the hot oil and proceeded to fry them until golden brown and delicious.


“Don’t burn the croutons!” yelled the belly.

Marvin then removed the fried pandesal croutons from the oil and placed them on paper towels to drain.


Marvin then took his leftover chicken adobo, removed the skin and fat, and shredded it with a couple of forks.


“Whallah! You too good to use your hands, Lazy?!!” yelled the belly.

“Shut the hell up! Yerrr not, yerrrrr not my mooothhhher!” slurred Marvin.

He then shoved the adobo shreds into the microwave and nuked them for a minute to warm them through.

Marvin, a bit apprehensive, then took hold of his bagoong jar and twisted it open. He stuck his nose into its opening and…

Took. One. Big. Whiff.



“Cough, cough, ahhhhhhh! Pink is my favorite color!” he exclaimed as the shrimp paste’s pungency acted as a smelling salts to his stupor.

“Bagoong beats anchovies every time!” yelled the belly.

Fearing the strength of the bagoong, Marvin took a scant quarter teaspoon of the powerful pink and placed it into the garlic perfumed bowl, along with an egg yolk and some kalamansi juice.



After whisking the bagoong, egg, and kalamansi together, Marvin slowly drizzled in the same olive oil he used to fry the garlic and the croutons with.  After he had emulsified the dressing, he whisked in a bit of salt and pepper, added some chopped romaine to the bowl, and tossed the salad.

“Toss that salad!” yelled the belly.

Marvin then placed the dressed romaine into a bowl, added the shredded chicken and croutons, and grated on some fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese.


He took a bite.

“Sarap!” he said.

“Sarap!” yelled the belly.

The dressing was creamy and tangy, and had just the right amount of saltiness (and a faint hint of fishiness) from the bagoong–an excellent substitute for anchovies.  The crunch of the pandesal and vinegary kick from the adobo made for an unusual, yet delicious, Chicken Caesar Salad.

“Don’t be afraid of Filipino ingredients!” yelled the belly. “Now put some more beer in me!”

Filipino Pantry Chicken Caesar Salad
(Adapted from Gourmet Magazine’s Caesar Salad)

Yield: About 6 servings

1 cup shredded chicken from leftover chicken adobo
1 large garlic clove, halved
3/4 cup to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Filipino pandesal rolls, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon bagoong (fermented shrimp paste, found in Asian markets)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh kalamansi juice
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Season a large salad bowl by rubbing a cut half of garlic on the inside of bowl. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the bowl (reserve garlic). Set salad bowl aside.

Heat 3/4 cup oil with both garlic halves in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Turn garlic often and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and discard garlic from oil.  Add pandesal cubes to oil and fry until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer croutons to paper towels to drain. Pour remaining oil from skillet through a fine-mesh strainer and into a heatproof measuring cup. Add more oil to bring total to 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons). Allow oil to come to room temperature.

Place bagoong, yolk, and kalamansi juice into the garlic-rubbed salad bowl and whisk well to combine. Slowly stream in the 6 tablespoons of olive oil into the salad bowl while continuously whisking. After dressing comes together and is emulsified, taste for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and more bagoong if desired.

Place lettuce into bowl and toss to coat with dressing.  Place salad into individual bowls and top with shredded adobo chicken and pandesal croutons. Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.

  • Manggy January 6, 2008, 10:46 pm

    That’s very resourceful! I’m allergic to bagoong but I imagine it would work just like anchovies. A true filipino Caesar would not use Parmigiano, though– it would be grated Kes-O, Kraft Eden, or Quickmelt. Okay, okay, maybe Queso de Bola :)

  • bernadette January 7, 2008, 1:50 am

    ha-ha-ha! Quite a quirky way to present A Pinoy Ceasar salad…which can make a purist scream murder :-D. Love the creativity, Marvin! This recipe inspires me to go for Eden cheese as my topping for this salad.

  • desie the maybahay January 7, 2008, 4:11 am

    hats off to you for your resourcefulness and creativity.
    sounds good!

  • Jikuu January 7, 2008, 6:55 am

    Someone should show Michael Ruhlman this, since he was looking for ways to jazz up the sad chicken caesar salad. This is a wonderful twist on it, and great storytelling to boot!

  • Katrina January 7, 2008, 8:31 am

    A salad after my own fusion-lovin’ heart! I agree with Manggy about trying it with a Pinoy cheese — but NOT Kes-O or Eden (can those even be called cheese?); instead, a bit of grated Quezo de Bola or crumbled kesong puti might work.
    “Don’t be afraid of Filipino ingredients!” yelled the belly. “Now put some more beer in me!”
    — Hehehe…My belly screams the same thing at me, too. ;-D

  • elmomonster January 7, 2008, 8:40 am

    Dude. You’re a crazy genius. Though what’s next? Filipino Egg Salad with Balut?!

  • Ed January 7, 2008, 11:08 am

    I wonder, though, how the dressing would taste if the bagoong were cooked in some way, either briefly fried or baked.

  • Jeremy Jensen January 7, 2008, 11:35 am

    That is a lovely apron you’re wearing. And, I prefer syrup over anything else when tossing salad.

  • Wandering Chopsticks January 7, 2008, 1:57 pm

    I always thought bagoong would be like VNese mam ruoc since they’re both shrimp paste. But yours looks lumpy. Mam ruoc is more smooth? The bright pink and fermentation sounds about the same though? I would love this as I like lots of anchovies in my Caesar dressing. 😛

  • oggi January 7, 2008, 3:10 pm

    Marvin, you made me laugh once again! Mouth breather, haha.
    I love the Filipino ingredients specially the crrunchy pandesal and pink bagoong. Very creative and looks delicious!

  • Lalaine January 7, 2008, 3:45 pm

    Hahahahaha! You just gave me light relief from my stress-burdened office day!
    Terrific post from the recipe to the narration!

  • joey January 7, 2008, 5:59 pm

    That is brilliant!!! I have to try that…love bagoong too :) You had me laughing from the get-go!
    In the immortal words on Jem (I almost fell of my chair when I read that part): “Truly, truly, truly outrageous!”
    Ok, that song is stuck in my head for the whole of today…

  • citymuse January 8, 2008, 5:38 pm

    How ingenious of you! I’ve always thought bagoong was a much tastier alternative to plain anchovy, although am not sure I’m willing to plop it on a pizza.
    Sorry for taking a while to return the courtesy of commenting on your blog, although I’ve nosed around here before. Love your title image btw, funny. And the wooden spoon and fork, such a Flip kitchen giveaway, lol.

  • Jen Tan January 8, 2008, 7:52 pm

    waaaay funny that dialogue between you and stomach! hahahah
    fabulous Filipinino caesar salad you have there…it definitely must taste great judging from what you put in them =) hahaah
    still laughing now… ;P

  • dhanggit January 9, 2008, 1:53 am

    marvin, no doubt about it you are one “hell” of a smart and funny cook!! :-)
    i never imagined that bagoong could blend well in a ceasar salad..not really a fan of ceasar salad but i will never say no with your version..specially the pandesal croutons and your adobo flakes..hmmm really good!!
    ps, bravo for your twilight zone video..hehehe

  • Cynthia January 9, 2008, 7:58 am

    You are a whiz in the kitchen. I am now hungry for caesar salad.

  • Julie January 9, 2008, 9:14 am

    Ahhhh, I gotta confess–bagoong and I don’t get along. I had an accidental overdose as a kid. I’d try this, though.
    Pandesal croutons sound like the Best Croutons Evar!

  • stef January 9, 2008, 12:40 pm

    I absolutely love this post!!! Highlights Filipino creativity, and (weird) sense of humor too! More please…. 😀

  • Mila January 9, 2008, 6:01 pm

    You’re brilliant when drunk 😀
    Since someone mentioned Ruhlman, maybe you can try making lechon kawali or take leftovers (if they exist) of crispy pata, and add it to the pinoy caesar salad in lieu of chicken bits. Ruhlman did a post on crispy pork roast in lieu of chicken, why not our lechon?

  • veron January 10, 2008, 8:16 am

    You are a genius! I didn’t even think of that! Afterall bagoong is shrimp anchovies. I bow to you! And yes, adobo works perfectly well.

  • Ruy January 10, 2008, 12:19 pm

    You are a visionary… And I dont mean the ones that turn into animals and summon guardian spirits.;p
    Seriously, aside from the brilliant idea, it looks really good!

  • Pat January 11, 2008, 2:30 pm

    Marvin, you are such a drama king in your storytelling–I love it!This is a wonderful example of fusion cuisine or simply making use of what you have in your pantry. I should try it with Indo ingredients too :).

  • toni January 13, 2008, 8:56 pm

    Galing!!! You are a genius! Bagoong in chicken caesar’s salad? No friggin’ way! But you showed us how it is possible, with great pay-offs too. Nice one, Marvin! And as always, I love the way you write!

  • Burnt Lumpia January 16, 2008, 2:49 pm

    Thanks Manggy. I used parmigiano because that’s what I had on hand.
    Hello Bernadette! It was quite quirky, but I swear you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference (besides the adobo) from a normal Caesar Salad.
    Thanks Desie!
    Thank you very much, Jikuu. I would like to think Ruhlman would like this recipe, but who knows?
    Hi Katrina, I’ve actually never heard of kes-o or eden before. But quezo de bola or kesong puti do sound good.
    I may be crazy, elmo, but I’m not crazy enough to concoct an egg salad with balut!
    Hmmm. Good question Ed. I would think if the bagoong were cooked that the flavor would be more intense? I’ll have to try that next time.
    JJ, don’t be such a hater on my apron. And I prefer jelly.
    WC, I wonder if you and I were blindfolded if we’d be able to taste the difference between mam ruoc and bagoong.
    Thanks oggi. The pandesal croutons were very easy to make. You could probably bake them in the oven too rather than frying them.
    I’m glad I could make you laugh at work Lalaine, thanks for stopping by!
    Thanks joey! I am not afraid to admit that I watched Jem!
    Thanks for stopping by Citymuse! I don’t think bagoong would work on pizza either;)
    Thanks Jen. My stomach always says strange things to me.
    Thank you very much dhanggit. Yes, I actually wanted to fry my adobo flakes, but I thought that was too much work.
    Thanks Cynthia! I really wasn’t much of a Caesar Salad person, but after making this, I love it more.
    Yikes, Julie! A bagoong overdose? I can only imagine the consequences;)
    Thank you stef! I’m glad people can get a kick out of my sense of humor.
    Mila, my wife disagrees with your “brilliant when drunk” assessment, but I think you’re right;) Very good ideas with the lechon rather than chicken!
    I’m not so sure I’m a genius, veron. But I thank you nonetheless;)
    Ha! Thanks Ruy. Although I think I’m more of a hallucinator than a visionary;)
    Thank you very much Pat! As I’ve learned from your comments and your blog, I’m sure there are many Indo ingredients that would work well too.
    Thank you for all the compliments toni!

  • Christine January 21, 2008, 6:54 pm

    You really are a boy wonder in the kitchen! Who else would have thought of that? And then entertained us with the funny dialogue with it. :)

  • greasemonkey August 18, 2008, 7:33 am

    jeez, that was the single best post i’ve read all day!! innoVAtive (like rex says) recipe, inspired presentation, and a killer delivery!
    i’d give an egg salad with penoy (boiled regular unfertilized duck eggs) a second and third thoughts, though.. hehe..

  • chicken recipes July 16, 2009, 6:14 am

    Yummy, this chicken caesar salad is a classic dish for sure, you are a good chef I bet, who provide really helpful recipe for amateur like me, hah…
    To tell you the truth, I am a chicken lover, who is trying to make chicken dish by myself, only on the way of learning, I do hope I can learn from your blog, thank you so much for sharing.

  • The Philippine Island August 3, 2009, 1:52 pm

    It looks very delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’ll try to make it on my own.

  • karina March 26, 2010, 8:21 pm

    i love this site!
    thank you :)
    I’m in need of a large wooden spoon and fork for my kitchen wall, i can’t seem to find any online and i dare not steal the one from my Lola’s house……help please?

  • food delivery philippines April 28, 2010, 1:40 am

    Gosh! I craving those food they are all look good amazing and delicious is there any delivery service for this?


Leave a Comment