My son and I came home to the Phils. a few years ago. It was his first time there. We were sleeping when he was periodically woken up by the crowing of the rooster very early in the morning. He became very annoyed and asked, "Why does that rooster keep on crowing?". I said, "Well, that's his purpose in life to crow every morning or be in a tinola." He he! What a round about way to allude to this recipe.
This is chicken in a clear soup. Very satisfying and one of my comfort food with special value when I'm ill. For me the dominant flavour (besides the chicken) should be the ginger, then the patis (fish sauce) and then the chili tops adds a piquant flavour as a finish. It is also important to let the chicken to simmer in patis before adding the rice water to make it tasty. I almost always use rice water since it markedly improve the taste of the soup as against using plain water. So as much as you can use rice water.
As I said, this is more or less a clear soup so the quality of the meat will be very noticeable. Hence, use the freshest and most wholesome chicken meat you can get preferably organic. My lola (grandma) would use freshly slaughtered dumalaga (single, unmarried, no eggs or chicks yet) chicken. It always was a treat to eat (since we only have it when a chick had grown big enough), slurping the hot soup with enthusiasm. The only distressing thing was when she tried teaching me to slaughter a chicken. I can dress an already dead chicken but not slay a live one. She taught me well on scaling, cleaning, and preparing fish, squids, shell fish, crabs, etc. mercifully she did not force me on poultry butchering after my first try. But such is the reality of life in the rural area, if you cannot slaughter it then you do not eat it. It's a wonder I did not turn vegetarian.
1 kg chicken - cut into serving pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp garlic - minced
1 medium onion - sliced
1 square inch fresh ginger - peeled and julienned
2 Tbsp patis (fish sauce)
5 cups rice water* or plain water
1 chayote (sayote)
a bunch of chilli tops (talbos ng sili)
- Peel chayote with a potato peeler and cut in half along the groove in the middle. Take out the white pith and seed in the middle using a spoon. Cut each half lengthwise and cut again crosswise (or diagonally) in about 3/4 inch intervals. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent.
- Add in ginger and cook for about 3 minutes or until aromatic.
- Add the patis and chicken. Stir well. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes letting the chicken abosorb the patis. Stir occassionally.
- Pour in rice water and bring to boil. Bring down heat to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.
- [optional] Skim off excess fat floating on top.
- Add chayote, bring up to boil again and cook for 5 minutes or until chayote is done.
- Put in chilli tops and cook for about 1 minute. Serve while hot.
*Note: Rice water is the water drained and saved from washing rice before cooking. So you should really cook rice before doing this dish.