Chicken Tinola

One of my closest friends is Filipina (or Pinay, if you’re hip to the whole Filipino thing), and I love it when she cooks up a storm of Philippines delicacies — mostly because lumpia and Spam make my heart sing.  She taught me how to make one of her favorite dishes, tinola, a chicken soup that’s traditionally served over white rice (or cauliflower rice, in my case).  This recipe is 100% authentic (according to her mom) and 100% on point (according to me).

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1 whole chicken; cut into pieces (or 2.5 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces)

2 tbl. coconut oil

Thumb-sized knob of ginger; peeled and sliced into very thin, 1-inch long matchsticks

12 oz. baby spinach

1 white or yellow onion; diced

4 cloves of garlic; minced

3 tbl. fish sauce

1 chayote squash**; peeled and diced into 2-inch chunks

Salt and pepper; to taste

Make it:

Heat coconut oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat until melted and shimmering.  Add the onion and garlic; sauté until translucent but not brown (about 4-5 minutes).  Next, add the ginger and fish sauce and stir for 1 minute.  Place the chicken pieces into the onion mixture, and immediately add enough water to just cover the chicken.  Partly cover the Dutch oven with a lid and allow the chicken to simmer for 15 minutes.  Then add the chayote squash and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Check the chicken for doneness (should be cooked all the way through) and the squash for tenderness (it should be fork-tender and tell you it loves you).  If squash and chicken are done, then add the spinach and stir until wilted.  Season with salt, pepper and additional fish sauce (if desired) to taste!  Serve the soup over white rice (#teamwhiterice) or cauliflower rice while you study your Tagalog.

Serves 4-6.

**Can’t find chayote squash?  Substitute 1/2 lb. of peeled, chopped butternut squash instead!


A crisp white with a decent amount of acidity to balance the umami of this dish; try Kung Fu Girl Riesling.

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