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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chicken Tinola

Among the first recipes I've featured here is Tinolang Tahong (Mussels Soup), I am sharing with you Tinolang Manok (Chicken Tinola). Are you wondering what "Tinola" is??? Well, Tinola is an authentic Filipino dish, which is a ginger based soup that can be cooked with either meat or seafood. Though "tinola" is more famous with manok(chicken) as the main ingredient, many Filipinos also use baboy(pork), isda (fish) and tahong(mussels). In Luzon provinces though, fish in ginger based soup is commonly known as pesang isda, but in Visayas and Mindanao, it is called tinolang isda. Are you enjoying your tinola lesson??? Let me go a little further...

Tinolang Manok, being the famous version of tinola was even referenced in Chapter 3 of Jose Rizal's book, Noli Me Tangere where Capitan Tiago ordered the said dish after he missed eating it for a long time when he extended his stay in Europe. Manok in tinola is best complimented with green papaya wedges and chili pepper leaves. I remember how I love Chicken Tinola when I was young. My mom used to cook it a lot and most of the time, she used home-raised native chicken instead of broiler chicken. This type of chicken has a stronger taste and tougher meat and has to be cooked for a longer time. But I'm telling you, it is a lot flavorful compared to commercially raised chicken! 

Here in Texas where papaya and chili leaves aren't usually available, I've learned to use different substitutes for them. Sayote (pear squash) is the best substitute for papaya and during times when even sayote is unavailable, potatoes will do. For the chili leaves, greens like bok choy, spinach and napa cabbage will be good...but I must say that nothing compares to the flavor that chili pepper leaves add to tinola.
Just like  Tinolang Tahong, this dish is best served during cold and rainy weather. But I love soup and whether it's spring, summer, fall or winter, I find it so comforting! Check out this Filipino favorite dish and let me know what you think...

  • 2 lbs. chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 medium sized green papaya, peeled, seed removed and cut into wedges
  • 1 bundle spinach, wash and trimmed
  •  4 heads baby bokchoy, washed and trimmed
  • 2 thumb-sized ginger, crushed
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 6 gloves garlic, chopped,
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp pure olive oil, for sauteing
  • 5 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic, onion and ginger in olive oil until garlic is light brown.
3. Add chicken and saute until juice starts to come out. 
4. Add water and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 15 minutes. 
5. Add papaya and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. 
6. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Add spinach and baby bok choy. Cover and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. 
7. Serve hot with steamed rice!