Since it's winter in Sydney, the wet damp weather has been bringing nothing but gloom in the air. Parts of the upper north coast of NSW has been flooded, flights have been canceled due to the volcano ash from Peru and the latest earthquake in NZ. Not very good news all around. Makes you want to just turn off and head to the kitchen!
Winter seems to bring out the lethargic side in our home, not a single soul spared. Mum's been dragging each of her leg every day to get off the bed and onto the kitchen to prepare your lunch boxes. Almost like a zombie, without the green face and tattered clothes - but maybe the look can be as scary. Can't help but feel lethargic in winter. Mum salute bears for taking on winter with the cleverest of idea - hibernation! What would happen if all humans hibernate in the winter, of course, taking turns, each part of the globe?! That's interesting! But how about those in the northern and southern hemisphere?! Aw. They'd be hiding more than half of the year! I guess hibernation isn't that so clever after all. Good thing, there are such dishes as chicken soup! Warms you up in all the right places!
This is a Filipino chicken soup, known as Chicken Tinola in most parts of the Philippines. Mum stresses "in most parts" because in some other regions in the PI, tinola would mean a different kind of dish altogether. Traditionally, this is the chicken tinola that mum and dad grew up with, and now you, too.
There is also a slight similarity in the soup and texture of the chicken tinola (minus the chokos and bok choy) to the Filipino Chicken Sotanghon (which was one of the first dishes mum kept here), where the addition of vermicelli noodles make it a main dish all by itself.
Chicken tinola is easy to prepare. All you need is:
1k chicken pieces (whole chicken cut into portions)
1 small ginger, cut into strips
1 onion, quartered
1 clove garlic, chopped
chokos (sayote in Tagalog), peeled and core removed or
green papaya (you must choose the green skin with white flesh, not the ones that almost ripe)
bok choy leaves, washed and tips but off
(this is our down under version, because in the PI fresh chilli leaves are used)
fish sauce and peppercorns, for seasoning
In a large sauce pan, saute the ginger, garlic and onion until translucent.
Add the chicken pieces and sear until browned.
Add about 6 cups water or more, enough to submerge the chicken in the stock. Add peppercorns.
Bring to the boil. Then simmer for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is tender.
Season with fish sauce, tasting every now and then to suit your preference. Sometimes, mum also adds a bit of ground pepper.
Add the bok choy leaves last then turn off heat.
The result! A clear (almost) chicken soup with the spicy-sweet aroma and taste of ginger. A true chicken soup for the soul! This is especially great now that its winter, but coming from a fairly tropical place, this dish is served and eaten any time of the year, with rice.
One of those dishes that are quick and easy to make. With a little bit of time and patience, plus the right ingredients, you don't really need to open a can of chicken soup, right?