Speedy bought two packs of chicken soup bones and I wondered what for. So you can make chicken bone broth, he said. That made me crave the best chicken soup I have ever had in my entire life. Chicken binakol. The perfect opportunity to upload better photos for the recipe I posted in June of 2014 was staring right at me.
What is chicken binakol? It tastes like tinola but it isn’t exactly tinola. The similarity is due mainly to the inclusion of ginger among the ingredients. Chicken binakol is sweeter because the broth is made with coconut juice.
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 juice at all.
This is my updated recipe for chicken binakol. Unable to sleep last night (too wired from watching Netflix’s Outlaw King that had me reading about Robert the Bruce until dawn), I got out of bed, cooked and had coffee and one of Sam’s apple turnovers while simmering the chicken. Then, I took photos and had a bowl of binakol for breakfast. When Speedy got up, he had two 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 spinach. You can use other greens like malunggay or kamote (sweet potato) sprouts.
Chicken binakol: it's like tinola with coconut
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 one-inch knobs ginger peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 shallots (or 1 onion), thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
- 500 grams chicken soup bones (backs and necks are ideal)
- patis (fish sauce) to taste
- 4 cups fresh coconut juice
- 2 tender coconuts cut into fine strips
- 1 generous handful spinach
- Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Saute the garlic, ginger and shallots just until softened.
Add the chicken pieces skin side down. Cook until the skin is lightly browned. Flip and brown the opposite sides.
Drizzle in two tablespoons of fish sauce. Cook until the mixture is quite dry.
Pour in the coconut water. Drizzle in more fish sauce.
Dump in the coconut meat.
Bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done.
Turn off the heat. Fish out the chicken, move to a plate and cool.
Flake the chicken meat; discard the bones.
Turn on the heat. Add the chicken meat and spinach to the soup. Taste the broth and season with more fish sauce, if needed. Simmer for another ten minutes.
Serve the chicken binakol while piping hot.
This is an updated version of the chicken binakol recipe originally published in June 6, 2014.