Chicken Tinola is all things the American chicken soup must be for the Filipino soul. During rainy days or cold nights, this is the perfect soup to cure loneliness, common colds, and existential angst.
The tinola or chicken tinola soup is a traditional chicken Filipino soup cooked in ginger. Added with chunks of papaya and greens such as sili or malunngay leaves, it is a healthy and delicious chicken meal that is perfect to cook for the family. Serve it with rice and a dip of patis and calamansi and you’d be cured of whatever it is that is ailing you.
Traditionally, they serve this dish to new moms who have just given birth as the malunggay (rich in calcium) is supposed to aid in making milk for the baby. Personally, I prefer to top it with the sili leaves because the smell is just heavenly. Either way, you and your family members will be sure to enjoy this chicken tinola recipe during the colds of December to February.
How to Cook Tinolang Manok
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My son, who happened to have a chicken allergy when he was young, is super sensitive to chicken(y) smell. What we call as “malansa” or ‘fishy”, only this time, it’s related to chicken and not fish. Weird, I know. Some people can smell it but my hubby who eats any kind of chicken, swears that he doesnt smell anything at all.
That’s why, for me, it is really important to saute the chicken in lots of garlic and ginger for at least 5 minutes or so to remove this smell. Around this part, it’s a step in cooking called “sangkutsa” where you render a bit of fat first and let the meat absorb the flavors of garlic and ginger.
If I skip on this step in cooking the tinolang manok, I notice that he doesn’t eat a lot and its not as satisfying for the cook. In any case, make sure not to skip that “sangkutsa” step even if you’re rushing. This is doubly important if you got the chicken fro the grocery and its not as fresh as you would like.
If you’re lacking in ingredients, you can mix and match. Papaya can be replaced with Sayote. For the greens, as I mentioned, either Sili leaves or malungay leaves will do. If you’re using malunggay (moringa) leaves, they take a bit more time to cook so add those in along with the papaya. I’ve seen some versions with cabbage too -like beef nilaga. When I’m in Manila, I get the leaves from my neighbors. They have malunggay too! But any market or big grocery store have them. If you don’t have ginger, lemongrass can be a good substitute too!
For my lazy low-carb followers and readers, you can tweak this recipe to your liking (less salt or patis) and eat it on its own without rice. The papaya is very filling and can provide enough satiety so you don’t feel deprived. If you’re into Pinoy low carb diet, check out my practical low carb weekly meal plan too!
Still feeling cold? Here’s a list of 6 Pinoy Soup to warm you up this cold season!