Tinola at Home!
As I was saying, if you came to visit my country and stayed with me, I'd feed you at home. That is, I'd get my brother to feed you. I'm a decent cook, but he is something else.
One classic Filipino dish he does really well is tinola--chicken and greens in a broth flavoured with onion, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce--the ginger being (in my humble opinion) the star of the savouries. Or as a former friend and her brother like to call it, "green chicken." (You can tell they grew up abroad.)
The greens are usually green papaya and the leaves (dahon) of the little red chili (sili) plant--and by "usually," I mean that my particular family has only ever had it at home with one or both of these two. But as you can imagine, substitutions abound and most are just as traditional. These days, no one at home cares for papaya, so we just double the dahon ng sili. My brother likes his tinola with an extra kick to it, so he crushes an actual sili into the broth at some point near the end of the cooking process. It's a great twist for the cooler monsoon months we're currently having.
You can cut up a whole chicken for this dish or use thigh and leg parts like we do these days. Serve it up with (what else?) white rice.
Tinola is such a classic dish that it has a cameo in a classic Filipino novel. The very same one I mentioned in the previous food post, leaving me grudgingly impressed. It is a favourite of the main antagonist, who believes himself entitled to the meatiest part of the chicken whenever tinola is served at a dinner party. One day, someone unthinkingly serves him the scrawniest part of the chicken. He doesn't take it well. Of course he's the nasty Spanish friar type. Sigh.
If you're enjoying the food posts, you may be interested in one of the food books in the Philippine Literature Giveaway, like Option #35: A Taste of Home: Pinoy Expats and Food Memories, edited by Edgar B. Maranan and Len S. Maranan-Goldstein. This anthology of essays includes the story of a woman determined to recreate her late grandmother's tinola and the recipe she was finally able to make peace with.
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