Wednesday, 13 October 2004

A Chicken's Destiny Is Tinola


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.

Tinolang Manok
(Chicken Stew)

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)
  1. 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.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent.
  3. Add in ginger and cook for about 3 minutes or until aromatic.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour in rice water and bring to boil. Bring down heat to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.
  6. [optional] Skim off excess fat floating on top.
  7. Add chayote, bring up to boil again and cook for 5 minutes or until chayote is done.
  8. 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.


purplegirl said...

oh soooo yummy. tinola is my toddler's all-time favorite. he can eat it every meal!

i've never used chayote before and i've never thought of it since now. i've always used the traditional green unripe papayas and sometimes they're not available. chayote is a great substitute. thanks for the idea!

Ate Sienna said...

i miss tinola... ayaw ni andres nyan kasi a few years back gumawa ako ng tinola at ginamit ko eh Rufina Patis. Sus, nagka-canker sore (sus, ano ba tawag nun sa tagalog, nasa dulo na ng dila ko...) sya na malaki sa bibig, hindi sya makakain for days after that.

pero i really miss tinola, mas lalo na kapag malamig ang panahon :)

ting-aling said...

dumalaga as in virgin chicken (joke only)..Ate Sienna, are you referring to "singaw"?

celia kusinera said...

purplegirl: ah yes unripe papaya. That's what we use back in Phils as well. But since I moved out from there I find it hard to find hilaw na papaya so sayote it is.

ate sienna: Eh di pag wala si Andres mag tinola. Tama si ting-aling 'singaw' ang tawag duon. hehehe! kawawa naman ang mama.

ting-aling: yun mismo! Donselyang manok - hahaha! Never been pecked never been tuka ...

ting-aling said...

Naku Cel, baka tayo macensor neto blog pa naman. Joke lang po, joke lang.

drstel said...

Chef Celia, nakakagutom. too bad my #1 son is complaining about "chicken again??" (sale last week eh) so I'll have to wait before cooking this. May sili tops diyan?? did you eat chicken with eggs inside too? yun ang naalala ko w/ our family's tinola.
I have to remember the rice water next soup I make. Funny kasi when I was really young I used to watch my lola eviscerating the chicken and...**nanliliit**I enjoyed it.

Snoot said...

that looks disgusting

Snoot said...

that looks disgusting

celia kusinera said...

Drstel: You know why these chicken in tinola have eggs? Because these ones have blockages in their rear ends and thus have problems laying the eggs. They are sure to die of this so before that happens they are usually made to a tinola.
LOL abt the evisceration. I could see why you became a doctor.

Snoot: Glad to be of service. You are clearly not Pinoy. Any non-disgusting dish I could whip up for you? I like a challenge.

drstel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Manang said...

Snoot, I looked at your blog and you seemed in your teen years. I wonder if your mama taught you manners.
During my first Thanksgiving Dinner with my American in-laws, they served boiled onions. BOILED ONIONS! That was disgusting, but I never said a word about it and tasted it anyway. Good thing my in-laws know how to respect other people's ways as well. WE never had any problems with our differences in food preferences.
You still need some maturing. Obviously you are not yet ready for a marriage. I hope you will never ever tell that to any dish your wife-to-be would prepare for you, or you might end up with a divorce.

Anonymous said...

Where did you find "dahon ng sili"? I live in London and have combed my Chinese cash and carry for this...nothing. SONIA

celia kusinera said...

Pinagtanggol ako ng aking sistah! Thanks Manang.

Sonia: Hi there! I use frozen talbos ng sili which I buy from Pinoy groceries. You can find a few of these groceries near the Earl's Court tube station. The first time I found those frozen talbos I jumped for joy would you believe?

rolly said...

You know what I really miss? THe old way tinola is cooked. I don't know if you remember it the same way I do but I am referring to the days when we used to buy live poultry. Part of the ritual is gathering the blood of the chicken and adding rice to it. We don't do that anymore and I don't think my children would appreciate it either.

JMom said...

Yes, this dish does bring back a lot of memories. I used to watch my lola butcher chicken too, I'm just glad she never made me do it. I think if I have to though, I can do it. I've watched her do it enough times. Rolly, I do remember her doing the same thing with the blood. She used to put rice in the blood, let it coagulate, then add it to the soup. No part of the chicken was wasted, the head, neck and feet were all put in the soup. Those parts were usually reserved for my lolo, especially the head. He said that is why he was smarter than the rest of us, he was the only one whe ate chicken brain :) That's another "eewwee" story for my kids.

JMom said...

Manang, I took a look at Snoot's site too, he is not a child, just an immature 29 year old who obviously never learned his manners.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks. Been there a few times (for bagoong and tocino) but very stressful to get to by tube from Greenwich and parking is hell. I'll try again when I am more at peace with the infernal underground. Loved your braised beef mami. I am not a blogger but just a surfer for Pinoy recipes. That's how I came across Radical Chef and your food blogs. Found a recipe for "adobong pusit" on another pinoy site but unable to enquire on how to make it really inky. Dark as night is how I remember it from home. Can you help? You guys are great. SONIA

celia kusinera said...

ka rolly: Jmom is right, I remember my lola doing the same thing; letting the blood coagulate and putting it in the tinola. And yes we don't do that nowadays.

Jmom: LOL abt your lolo's 'smartness'. Hehehe! Grandparents are very good at making those stories for their apos.

Sonia: It's really hard to find parking in the Earl's Court area so much better to go via bus or tube. About the adobong pusit, you need to include the ink sac when cooking to make it dark. Unfortunately most of the squids available here are frozen ones which usually don't have their ink sacs. Oh I remember, why not ask in fish mongers, they can be a bit more expensive but I bet they can arrange for fresh ones.

ting-aling said...

Ay Cel, puwedeng sagutin si Sonia..baka ako yung site na napuntahan niya. I had an adobong pusit lately and my site does not accept anonymous commenters. Son, you can always write me by e-mail at ( Other readers do that. I do take the ink sac out otherwise you're dish will really look black. You have to be very careful because if you break the sac, it's as good as not cleaning the pusit. The ink will stay unless you wash the inside very well or until the water runs clear. It is a very tiny one close to the tiny spine and you have to be very careful in pulling it out. I clean the pusit once it's about 2/3 thawed so that the sac is still a little bit frozen. It is easier that way.