A Taste of Home in Geneva: Tinolang Manok (Chicken in Ginger Soup)

Let’s face it, it’s that time of the year when we are out almost every night for dinners and Christmas celebrations. Before that big Christmas day celebration, I often find myself wanting to just have a night of comfort, homecooked meal as a break from the festive meals. Plus It’s been raining for days now and the flu season is here once again. So, hearty soups are usually my go-to-dishes to make.

In the Philippines, one of my favourite comfort food, when I’m feeling under the weather, is the Tinolang Manok. This really nice chicken in ginger soup is perfect for cold, wet days.

Tinolang manok traditionally uses green papaya, chilli leaves, and moringa leaves for some places in the Philippines. Unfortunately, those are all not available in Geneva. So, I had to substitute these vegetables with whatever is available here. For me, the important part of the dish is the chicken and ginger.

In southeast Asia, fish sauce is a very common seasoning. The principle is similar to how anchovies are used in many dishes in Italy, France, and even the UK to some extent (through Worcestershire sauce).

Here’s my Tinolang Manok recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 1 kilo chicken (dark meat such as thighs and wings -they bring more flavour to the soup)
  • 1 inch or 50-100 grams of ginger (sliced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 small white onion (chopped)
  • 1 Chayote/Mirliton Squash, sliced in medium chunks (my substitute to green papaya and can be found in many Asian shops in Geneva. I suppose zucchini can work as a substitute too)
  • 1 cluster of Bok choi/pak choi
  • 1 litre of chicken broth (I didn’t have time to slow cook this for hours so I used chicken broth powder instead and mixed in 1 litre of hot water)
  • Fish sauce (optional and to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (vegetable oil or any oils that don’t have strong flavour works too)

Method:

  1. Heat sunflower oil, garlic, onions, and ginger in low heat (i prefer heating them all at the same time for a stronger infusion of flavours).
  2. Once the garlic is starting to get slightly brown and the onions are getting transparent, remove them from the oil.
  3. Put the chicken in the pot, cooking each side for 5 minutes or until the chicken’s skin has turned brown.
  4. Bring the garlic, onions, and ginger back in the pot, add 1 tbsp of fish sauce (or start with 1 tsp salt) and 1 tsp of pepper to start. Mix well.
  5. Pour in chicken broth and let it simmer for 30 minutes under medium heat. I like to remove some of the fat by scooping those on the surface of the soup. Otherwise, no big deal. Taste and season as necessary.
  6. Put the chayote chunks in and cover. Cook for another 15 min or once the chayote chunks are cooked. If using zucchinis, they tend to cook quicker than chayote.
  7. Taste and season as necessary. Turn the heat off. Put in the bok choy and cover for another 5 minutes).

Best served with rice.

Total prep and cooking time is approximately 1.15 hours. Serves 2-3.

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