It tastes like tinola but it isn’t exactly tinola. The similarity is due mainly to the inclusion of ginger among the ingredients. And if we’re to talk about cooking method, the traditional way of cooking binakol is nothing similar to the procedure for cooking tinola. In olden times, binakol was cooked inside a bamboo tube or in a coconut husk over live fire. Cooked that way with the broth, vegetables and chicken soaking up the peculiar flavors of the inside of the bamboo or coconut husk, binakol would probably taste less like tinola.
But I’m guessing. I’ve never cooked in a tube of bamboo nor a coconut husk. And I’m not likely to. I love the modernity of my kitchen and I wouldn’t give up its comforts for the sake of being able to scream authentic! I’ll leave that to the bloody purists. I’m making fun of purists? Always.
But I’m not guessing when I say that binakol is associated with the province of Aklan more than any other place in the Visayas. I’m not guessing either when I say that there are many versions of binakol — some do not have coconut meat, others have coconut milk in the broth, there are versions with green papaya wedges and there are those which do not contain coconut water at all.
This is my version of chicken binakol. We had it for dinner last night and Speedy had three servings. I much prefer to leave it to you to interpret what the last sentence means rather than sing praises to my own creation. I used malakanin coconut meat (see a visual guide to everything coconut). For the greens, although sili leaves are traditional, I opted for alugbati (sometimes called vine spinach). You can use other greens like spinach, malunggay or kamote (sweet potato) sprouts.
Chicken binakol: it's like tinola with coconut
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic minced
- 2 shallots (or 1 onion), thinly sliced
- 2-inch piece ginger peeled and sliced
- 1 kilogram small chicken cut into serving size pieces
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- 4 cups coconut water
- meat of 1 to 2 coconuts shredded
- a bunch of green leafy vegetables
- Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Saute the garlic, ginger and shallots just until softened.
- Add the chicken pieces. Drizzle in some patis. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.
- Pour in the coconut water. Drizzle in more patis. Bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done.
- Taste the broth and season with more patis, if needed, before adding the coconut meat and greens. Simmer for five minutes or until the leaves are wilted.
- Serve hot.