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recipe: tinola (chicken & ginger soup)

December 11, 2009

I have to admit that I was quite spoiled growing up, eating wonderful dishes made lovingly by my parents, who are both fantastic cooks. I should have paid more attention when I was still in their household – maybe I would have picked up cooking tips and boatloads of recipes that are tried and true.

Alas, I am able to make my parents proud by my small repertoire of Filippino dishes: lumpia, bistek and tinola. Lumpia is an eggroll, and the kind that I make is also called lumpiang prito (fried eggroll). I learned a basic recipe from my mom and it is easy to make and really good to eat! Bistek is one of my favorite Filippino dishes and it’s just a beef dish with onions. However, the topic of interest for this post is tinola, which is probably my favorite Filippino dish. I made it last night for dinner, as it seemed fitting to eat in this dreary weather.

I make this dish simply, with onions, chicken, spinach, gingerroot and fish sauce. Since the weather is now full-blown winter cold, I thought tinola would be perfect for dinner.

Here’s a rough little sketch of how I cooked tinola:

  • 8-10 chicken tenderloins (the frozen strip kind), thawed and cut into smaller pieces (bite-size)
  • 1 small white onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 regular-sized bag of baby spinach (you can use more or less)
  • canola oil
  • ginger powder
  • ginger root, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • fish sauce (can be found in any regular grocery store or specialty Asian markets)

1.  Pour about 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil in large soup pot (I think the one I used is either a 4 or 5 quart pot) and heat.
2.  Sautee onion strips in the oil and cook until the strips are softened but not browned. Then add the ginger root and cook for a few minutes.
3.  Cook the chicken pieces along with the onion and ginger; do this until the chicken is done, but not browned (so make sure you stir every so often).
4.  Sprinkle ginger powder over the chicken (about 7 shakes or so).
5.  Pour about 6-7 cups of water into the pot (I just eye-balled it, poured water but stopped about 1 1/2 inch from the top of the pot) and turn up the heat to about medium high.
6.  Put as much spinach leaves in the mixture and stir.
7.  Put fish sauce (about 7 shakes or according to taste, since it has a high salt content) in the mixture, stir and flavor with more ginger powder if necessary.
8.  Bring it to a boil, keep tasting it and flavor with the ginger powder and fish sauce as needed. Let it boil for a few minutes, then simmer in low heat for about 10 minutes.
9.  Remove from the heat and serve over rice.




(note: I’ve made this before without ginger root – I just compensated for it by adding a lot of ginger powder. Also, tinola, stored in the fridge overnight, tastes better the next day because all the flavors have fused together.)

I’m sure there are various ways to cook tinola but so far, I like my version of it. Of course, my parents’ version of this dish is way better.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lara F. permalink
    February 4, 2011 5:06 pm

    I love this dish! I haven’t had it in a while. My parents always added Chayote to our Tinola.

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