Chicken Tinola is a Filipino soup dish. It involves cooking chicken pieces in ginger broth. It is a popular cold weather dish. I always feel warm and cozy every time I eat it. This Filipino Chicken Soup is best enjoyed with fish sauce as dipping sauce, and a cup of warm white rice.
Tinola is traditionally cooked with wedges of unripe papaya and malunggay leaves. These components make it a good source of nutrients. The secret in making a good tinola is to simmer the chicken for longer periods of time. This extracts the flavor from the chicken. It also makes the chicken tender in the process.
How to Cook Chicken Tinola
This recipe for tinola is simple and straightforward. I highly recommend this to beginners.
Start by sauteeing onion, garlic, and ginger. Do this by heating oil in a cooking pot. Add onion and garlic. You can put either of the ingredients first, followed by the strips of ginger. Make sure to saute these until the onion softens. You are almost done when you start to smell the good scent of the aromatics that you are cooking. The scent slowly fills the kitchen and it can linger for a while.
Add chicken pieces. The size of each piece does not matter. It depends on your preference. Cook the chicken for 3 to 5 minutes or until it turns light brown. You may even saute longer if desired. I am adding a bit of fish sauce during this step to provide initial flavor to the dish. You can opt to add this ingredient towards the end of the cooking process.
This chicken tinola recipe makes use of rice washing for the soup. It refers to the water used to wash the rice. Let me quickly describe the steps on how this is done. Rice needs to be cleaned before cooking. This involves pouring water on a rice cooker or pot where the rice will be cooked and stirring everything until starch goes off from the outer part of the rice. The starchy water is what we call rice washing. Simply drain the water from pot and use it for your tinola. Let it boil, cover the pot and simmer or you can also boil in low heat for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken tenderizes. This is also the step wherein you can add chicken cube or chicken powder to further enhance the flavor of the soup.
Add the papaya once the chicken gets tender. Boil it for 5 minutes, and then add hot pepper leaves, or malunggay leaves. You are almost done.
The last part is to season your chicken tinola with either salt or fish sauce, and ground black pepper. The amount of ingredients will depend on your preference.
There are variations of chicken tinola that I enjoy eating. Have you tried Tinolang Manok sa Gata ? This version makes use of coconut milk. It is rich, creamy, and worthy of your time.
Chicken Tinola Alternative Ingredients
It is best to use bone-in chicken for this dish. You can remove the skin from the chicken to reduce fat. Boneless and skinless chicken breast or thigh can also be used.
Green papaya is commonly used to cook tinola. There are times when this is not available especially if you live outside of the Philippines. You can use chayote or sayote as an alternative to papaya.
It is always best to use malunggay when it is available. However, there are also healthy alternatives to it. For example, this recipe calls for hot pepper leaves or dahoon ng sili. Spinach is also a good substitute.
Try this Chicken Tinola Recipe. Let me know what you think.