I can’t understand why other people refer to sinampalukang manok as the chicken counterpart of sinigang and in preparing the dish, they often add kangkong, sitaw, radish and other vegetables used in a typical sinigang na baboy or bangus. I’d like to say it’s wrong but then realized one should not limit a dish to its basic ingredients and recipe especially when one had to improvise depending on what ingredients are available or if they simply need to use extenders for economic reasons.
Tinolang manok is one of my comfort foods as it never fails to remind me of my childhood. It’s like my own personal time machine. Each sip of the sour soup, each bite of the chicken and each spoon of the rice moist with the sour chicken stock takes me back in time when my mother would serve this dish and my brothers, sisters and I would all hurry to get the wing part.
I wish I could prepare this recipe exactly as how my mother would but since I’m in the desert and was just lucky enough to have a single tamarind tree outside the perimeter walls of our villa, I am limited to a few young tamarind leaves, young buds and flowers.
- 500 grams chicken, cut into serving sizes
- 2 to 3 cups young tamarind leaves (depending on your preferred sourness)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, julienned
- 1 inch ginger, julienned
- 2 tbsp. patis (fish sauce)
- 1 tbsp. cooking oil
- 2 to 3 cups water
Heat oil on a deep pan. Saute garlic, onion and ginger half a minute after each other. Put the chicken and let it cook in its own oil (this is called sangkutsa in Tagalog and I don’t know its English translation, Google is useless at this) until it browns a little. Put the young tamarind leaves and add two to three cups water. Let it boil until the soup turns sour and the chicken is tender. Season with patis and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
You could use any extender if you want so the dish could serve as many persons as possible but please don’t put tomatoes in it. But if you must, you might as well substitute the young tamarind leaves with instant sinigang powdered mix and call your dish sinigang na manok so we could all live happily ever after.