Sinampalukang manok (sour soup with chicken and tamarind leaves)

My mother has a cousin who cooked delicious sinampalukang manok. She would make a huge pot each time and it always amazed me how she could strip the leaves from the tiny branches so fast. I cooked a pot of sinampalukang manok a few days ago and I found out that stripping the leaves from the branches is a combination of practice and patience.

See, my little tamarind tree isn’t so little anymore.

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It has grown sufficiently to allow me to pick some newly sprouted leaves for Thursday’s night’s sinampalukang manok. Similar in taste to sinigang, this soup dish is simpler as it has one vegetable ingredient only aside from those used for sauteing.

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New leaves of the tamarind tree are used.

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The tiny leaves are stripped from the stems and the stems are discarded. How? Hold the upper tip of a branch between the thumb and forefinger of one hand. Then slide the forefinger and thumb of the other hand down the branch and the leaves fall off. Sounds easy enough but I didn’t get quite the hang of it until I was halfway through the pile of leaves I took from the tree in the garden.

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The leaves are then washed (if you wash them prior to stripping, they’ll be more difficult to handle) and…

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… as an added step, I like to bruise them a little to help them release their sour notes better.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. of tamarind leaves
    750 g. of cut-up chicken
    4 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 onion, sliced
    2 tomatoes, chopped
    2 tbsps. of vegetable oil
    patis (fish sauce), to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil. Saute the onion, garlic and tomatoes.

    Pour in four to five cups of water and add the tamarind leaves. Bring to the boil (watch the tamarind leaves change color), add the chicken, bring to the boil once more, season with patis (fish sauce) and simmer for about 40 minutes.

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    Taste the broth. If it isn’t sour enough for you, add some tamarind juice or tamarind paste. When the broth tastes perfect, simmer for five minutes longer then turn off the heat.

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    Ladle the chicken and soup into individual bowls, making sure that each bowl gets a nice piece of chicken and a generous amount of tamarind leaves.

    Serve hot.

Cooking time (duration): 45 minutes excluding the time for stripping the tamarind leaves

Number of servings (yield): 4