The week before started a little gloomy in my side of the world. Light showers added to the cool December air. With this kind of weather, comfort food keeps me warm and fuzzy. Thinking about taking a spoonful of that hot sopas (macaroni soup) as my kids it. Or maybe that Nilagang Baka with corn and potatoes.
Instead of these family faves, I thought of preparing a recipe that my mother learned from her friend. She recounts how she enjoyed eating that unfamiliar dish at her friend’s home which she later found out to be Chicken Sinigang. She fell in love with the dish that she excitedly replicated the dish at home.
The traditional ingredients for sinigang are present: Tomatoes, fresh tamarind extract or powdered tamarind base, eggplant, okra, water spinach (kangkong) or camote tops, taro (gabi), radish (labanos) and string beans (sitaw). The way I cook Pork or Beef Sinigang is to boil the tomatoes first with the meat then toss in the veggies when the meat is tender. But for the chicken version, the meat is sauteed in ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Ginger is added to remove the unpleasant smell/taste (lansa) of the chicken.
What I failed to do in this particular recipe was to add more tomatoes. More tomatoes not only adds flavor to the dish but also gives a red-orange hue to the soup base which is enticing to the eyes. I also didn’t add all the veggies I mentioned previously. I only throw in lots of okra, kangkong and eggplant which are the ones my family will only eat in a sinigang dish. They’re not fans of string beans and gabi so I don’t include them, saves me money and no food wastage.
1 whole chicken cut into pieces ( I prefer tinola cut because the pieces are bigger than the adobo cut)
1 inch ginger julienned
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 onion sliced
4-5 tomatoes sliced
Fish sauce or patis
4-5 cups rice wash
Fresh Tamarind Extract* or Tamarind soup base (Sinigang Mix) (If you’re all about fresh and being organic, you can make your own tamarind sinigang base. Check additional instructions below)
Your veggie of choice:
Sitaw cut into 2-inch sticks
Eggplant (2-3) sliced diagonally
Okra (1 bundle or pack) take off ends and cut in half
Gabi (2 small pieces cut in half)
Labanos thinly sliced
- Heat oil in your pot or casserole pan. Saute the ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Continue stirring until the tomatoes are wilted.
- Add the chicken and about 2 tbsps fish sauce or patis. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- When chicken is half-cooked add your rice water. Keep it covered. Let it boil until the chicken is a bit tender.
- Add the tamarind mix and simmer for a few minutes.
- Taste the soup base then add salt if needed.
- Add the veggies starting with the tough ones like gabi. Followed by okra, eggplant, sitaw, labanos. When veggies are almost done, add the kangkong or camote tops.
- Turn off the stove. The remaining heat will steam the kangkong leaves.
Now this borrowed recipe from my mom’s friend has been passed on to me. When my mother prepared this for us when may years ago, it was a welcome addition to my list of mom’s to-die for recipes. This too has also become my family’s favorite too. Not to mention, a new item added to our list of comfort foods. Hopefully, both my kids will learn how to do this simple dish and pass it on to their children. If you haven’t tried Chicken Sinigang, I suggest you do! Let’s eat!
*How to make your own Tamarind Extract for Sinigang:
Buy real tamarind from the wet market or supermarket. Put some water in the pot and add the tamarind. Let the water boil until the skin becomes soft. When tamarind is tender, remove from the pot and place on a strainer with a bowl underneath. Using your ladle, extract the juice by pushing your ladle down the strainer. You can add a little water to help strain the extract. You will be left with half a bowl of fresh tamarind extract. This is the way my Mother prepares her Sinigang dish. Rarely does she use powdered Sinigang mix. Old school is still the best 🙂
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