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With minimal ingredients and a mild but powerful taste, chicken tinola is a stew that’s authentically Filipino. Few dishes bring about as much comfort and rejuvenation as a mere sip of this classic soup. Chicken tinola is a dish that is equally hearty as it is refreshing; the mere gingery smell is enough to evoke a sense of nostalgia to many, as it’s a favorite in home kitchens around the country.
Chicken tinola, or tinolang manok as others refer to it as, is a clear stew that consists of cut up chicken pieces, green papaya, ginger, fish sauce, and hot pepper leaves. For those who are sick in bed or who have gone through a rough day, something about this soup is simply magical. More than just satisfying your stomach, chicken tinola can soothe your soul, its broth practically brimming with comfort. Whether you’re enjoying this dish on its own or with a cup of warm, white rice, this dish is fantastic, no matter the occasion.
With such a flavorful broth, you’d think that chicken tinola consists of a whole number of ingredients. However, another wonderful thing about this soup is that it manages to capture such a rich and powerful flavor with only a few components. One reason chicken tinola is so popular in Filipino home kitchens is the accessibility and cost-efficiency. of the ingredients involved.
Here are the basic components to a good chicken tinola, as well as their potential substitutes and additions.
The main protein and star of the show, chicken is able to absorb all the gingery flavors of our tinola. For chicken tinola, we use the entire chicken, cut into smaller pieces. However, did you know that chicken tinola isn’t the only variant of this classic stew? Fish tinola, using either tilapia or bangus (milkfish), is an alternative to this dish with a different protein, but is sure to be just as delicious.
You might be wondering why this ingredient is important in your chicken tinola. Beyond giving your dish an extra liquid, the earthy taste of your rice washing is integral to your chicken tinola.
Lean and green, papaya’s mild flavors have an almost creamy taste that pairs harmoniously with the ginger of this chicken tinola. Its texture is slightly firmer than that of your tender chicken, giving you a nice balance in your mouth. If papaya isn’t onhand, chayote or labanos may serve as a good substitute for this fruit.
Tinola simply wouldn’t be tinola without this spice. Its rough exterior gives way to an aroma and taste to distinct; there’s truly nothing like it! Ginger makes up the base of our chicken tinola broth with its standout flavor. Not only is this spice incredibly delicious, but the numerous ways it keeps our body healthy cannot be ignored. Chock full of vitamins and nutrients, its health benefits run plenty.
Fish sauce, or patis
In lieu of salt, patis lends its umami and savory flavors to our beloved chicken tinola. It works perfectly well with our chicken pieces, giving them a taste that complements the ginger and papaya perfectly. For those looking to watch their health or sodium levels, it’s best to moderate your patis intake –– or even remove it entirely. But just 2 tablespoons of this is enough for its bold flavors to shine through this mild soup.
Hot pepper leaves
Those looking for a little spice can count of the leaves of siling labuyo for that extra kick in their chicken tinola. Others use the leaves of moringa or malunggay to sub for these hot pepper leaves, while others use pechay or spinach. These leafy greens provide their own mild tastes to chicken tinola, making your dish not only more delicious but more nutritious, too!
Altogether, these ingredients form a chicken tinola that is not only pleasant in smell and sight but in taste, too. Read on to find out how to easily cook this classically Filipino dish.
How to Cook Tinola
Prepare the ingredients
To cook chicken tinola, first cut up one whole chicken into serving pieces. Cut half a piece of papaya in small wedges, mince a tablespoon of garlic, and chop a medium sized onion. For the flavorful broth, you’ll need a thumb of ginger, cut into strips as well.
Saute the aromatics and chicken
Let’s cook chicken tinola together! In a pot, sauté your garlic, onion, and ginger pieces until your onions soften. Add in your chicken and cook, until the color turns a light brown. Next, pour in two tablespoons of fish sauce, mixing these ingredients together well.
Tenderize the chicken and add green papaya
Once you add in your rice washing, bring your tinola mix to a boil, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. This may seem like quite a while, but it will definitely be worth the wait. When 45 minutes are up, add in your green papaya wedges and simmer for about 5 minutes more.
Add remaining vegetables and season it
Add your hot pepper or moringa leaves, then salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat off the stove and transfer your chicken tinola to a serving bowl while still hot. With heaping cups of rice on the side and individual soup bowls per person, your tinola is ready to be shared and enjoyed with the rest of your loved ones.
Let us know what you thought of the warm and homey chicken tinola soup.
- Sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger
- Put-in the chicken and cook until color turns light brown
- Add the fish sauce and mix well
- Pour-in the rice washing and put to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add the green papaya wedges and simmer for 5 minutes
- Add the hot pepper leaves
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Serve hot. Share and enjoy!