Pinatisang manok is a Filipino soup with bone-in chicken cooked in broth seasoned with fish sauce and garnished with chili leaves.
Yes, it is similar to chicken tinola. But, unlike tinola, there is no green papaya in pinatisang manok. Everything else is basically the same.
A few tips for a flavorful chicken soup. First, use parts of the chicken that has lots of bones. The flavor, and the body of the broth, come from the bones. That’s why it is never a good idea to use fillets when making soup. I must admit that there were times when I did that but that was more out of desperation than anything else as when there’s nothing else on hand.
My personal choice is the thigh and back. When you buy cut up chicken, those labeled as soup packs usually contain only the backs of the chicken. While they are perfect for the broth, they have too little meat. In Filipino cooking, a lot of soup dishes are actually main dishes. And if all you have in your main soup dish are backs of chickens, well, you won’t get much meat. So, try to look for the pack of choice cuts that say “thighs and backs”. This doesn’t mean that there are thigh pieces and back pieces, respectively, in the pack. It means that the chicken pieces are so chopped so that each piece actually contains a whole thigh and a part of the back. You get the bones from the backs; you get the meat from the thighs. In the alternative, you can always chop up one whole chicken.
Now, how does the broth acquire that golden color? Two things. One is, of course, the fish sauce. But unless you drown your broth with fish sauce which will make your soup dish inedible, the broth will still look a little pale even after adding copious amounts of fish sauce. So, what’s the secret?
The secret is caramelized shallots. In the first stage of cooking when you saute your aromatics, don’t just saute. Cook the sliced shallots with the garlic and ginger until the shallot slices have softened and browned. And, when you add the chicken to the pot, do it skin side down at first, let the skin brown and flip to brown the meaty side before pouring in water. That way, the broth of your pinatisang manok will have a beautiful amber color.
Pinatisang Manok (Chicken Soup With Fish Sauce)
This recipe has been updated from the version originally published in 2006.
If the thighs are still attached to the back, cut the chicken into serving size pieces. Set aside.
Peel and finely slice the shallots
Peel and mince the garlic.
Peel and grate the ginger.
Slit the chilies vertically.
Heat two tablespoons cooking oil in a thick-bottomed pot.
Saute the shallots until lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger and chilies. Drizzle in a little fish sauce. Continue sauteeing until the shallot slices are soft and browned. Scoop out the sauteed aromatics.
Pour in the remaining tablespoon of cooking oil into the pot.
Lay the chicken pieces in the hot oil, skin side down, and cook over high heat until the skins are blistered and browned. Flip the pieces to brown the opposite sides.
Return the sauteed aromatics into the pan.
Pour enough water to cover the chicken pieces in the pan.
Drizzle in more fish sauce. Sprinkle in some ground black pepper.
When the contents of the pot are boiling, set the heat to low, cover the pot and cook until the chicken is done. Taste the broth once in a while and add more fish sauce, as needed.
When the chicken is done, scatter the chili leaves on the surface of the soup. Turn off the heat. Cover the pot and leave the chili leaves to cook in the residual heat for about five minutes.
Serve your pinatisang manok hot.