November 11, 2008

tinolang manok (chicken ginger soup)

I know there are many but I can easily think of two reasons why soups can sometimes make our day. Cold weather and rainy days. I talked about harvesting chili pepper leaves in one of my previous posts to add to "tinola" - a favorite Filipino chicken soup. Although young chili pepper leaves are commonly sold in bunches in most markets in the Philippines, I have not seen, or may never see them in groceries here. Growing chili peppers in the backyard is a great way to be able to have a continuous supply of the leaves, shown below.
We now have only three kinds of chili peppers growing in a single pot, habanero, tabasco and jalapeno. I didn't realize that their leaves, although not as intense as the chilis, can also be quite spicy and hot. They definitely made the soup a lot spicier than I intended. Tinola is an old recipe which dates back to Spanish time in the Philippines. I prefer to use whole chicken, cut-up, than just boneless chicken fillets in this particular recipe although a combination may be used. The chicken bones impart so much good flavor in the soup. The ingredients, which add a kick to the unique flavor of this chicken soup, are fresh ginger, chili pepper leaves and chayote or young green papaya.
Personally, I prefer chayote (shown above) over the papaya. The great thing about using papaya though is the papain, a natural meat tenderizer, in the papaya fruit. Aside from the freshest ginger you can find in the market, the chili leaves play an important role in this dish. Substituting ginger powder is not recommended because the flavor of the fresh ginger is essential to the success of the dish.


  1. Yum. I miss Filipino home cooking like this. Papaya or chayote, I'm all for it :)

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  3. You're right. There's nothing like the comfort and warmth of a good home cooked meal. Tinola is also one Filipino dish that I crave myself, so every now & then I just have to cook & enjoy it. Thanks!