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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sinampalukang Manok (Chicken in Tamarind Broth)

Just 3 more days and fall is officially here. I am really enjoying the weather! The temperature nowadays only stays in the mid 80's which is a big relief from the scorching 105°F! Though my family love soup all year round, it's during days like this when we enjoy it more....and Filipino soupy dishes like nilaga, sinabawan, sinigang and tinola are very often seen on our dinner table. 

This recipe that I have for you today is what many call the chicken version of sinigang. Sinigang (as some of you may know) refers to any dish with sour broth. The main ingredient that makes it sour can be tomatoes, guava or tamarind, though tamarind (or what is know in the Philippines as sampalok) is most commonly used. This dish here is one of those that make use of tamarind and it is called Sinampalukang Manok.
Unlike in other sinigang wherein only the tamarind fruit is used, in this dish, tamarind leaves plays an important part. Tamarind leaves have subtle tart flavor and is a good addition to this dish. It can be released by stripping them from the stems and then crushing them a little using mortar and pestle. Fresh tamarind leave aren't available here so I content myself with bottled pickled tamarind leaves. They're good enough when it comes to flavor...but they are bottled with the stems which are too hard to eat so I still have to remove them one by one. But that's all right! This delicious and comforting Sinampalukang Manok is worth the effort! ;)

  • 1 whole chicken (about 2 lbs.), cut into serving pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups tamarind leaves
  • 3 tamarind cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
1. Sprinkle chicken with about 1/2 Tbsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. In a pot over medium heat, saute garlic and ginger in olive oil until light brown. Add onions and continue sauteing until onion is almost translucent. Add tamarind cubes and saute until melted. 
2. Add chicken and saute until there's no more red part showing. Add water and fish sauce. Stir and cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add tamarind leaves. Season with salt and pepper to suit your taste. Simmer for another 3 minutes.
3. Add spinach. Simmer for a minute or two. Remove from heat. Serve with steamed rice.