A soup served as a main entree in the Philippines, tinola is traditionally cooked with chicken, wedges of unripe papaya and sili leaves. Papaya tends to get mushy and I don’t like that in my soup. So, I cook tinola with chayote instead. Should it be chicken tinola every time? No, of course not. I tried cooking tinola with pork once and I’ve done it several times since.
It is a good idea to use a cut of pork with bones like ribs. It would yield an even richer broth. But, since you will get less meat, you will have to increase amount (based on weight) of the pork.
Patis is a salty fermented fish sauce native to the Philippines. Other Southeast Asian countries have their own versions with different names. Patis has a rather strong odor that is particularly noticeable when served on its own as a dunking sauce at the dinner table. It is not so apparent when patis is used as a seasoning and mixed with the dish itself. It is not absolutely necessary to use patis in cooking tinola. Salt may be used instead. However, patis does have a very distinct flavor that is lost when substituted with plain salt.
When I was a kid, every time my father cooked chicken tinola, he would always include a piece of chicken liver so he could make a special dunking sauce to go with it. He would take the chicken liver from the cooked dish, mash it with a fork and mix it with a few tablespoons of patis. Try it if you’re thinking about cooking chicken tinola.
3/4 kilo of pork rump or shoulder
1/2 head of garlic
1 thumb-sized pc. of ginger
1 onion, sliced
1 c. of sili leaves
salt or patis (fermented fish sauce)
1 tbsp. of cooking oil
5 c. of water
Cooking procedure :
Cut pork meat into serving size pieces, about 2″ x 2″ cubes.
Crush garlic and discard skin.
Peel ginger and slice thinly.
Heat cooking oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Over high heat, sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion slices and cook until limp. Add pork cubes and cook, stirring, until no longer pink on all sides. Season with salt or patis and pepper. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove skin of chayote with a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the white core with a knife. Cut into wedges.
About 15 minutes before the pork is fully cooked, increase heat to high and add the chayote wedges. Adjust seasoning. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until chayote is cooked. Turn off heat, place the sili leaves on top and cover for 5 minutes. Serve hot.