Chicken tinola for the soul

7 10 2011

IN THE city, when you’re single and living on your own, your friends are your family.

I picked that up from the epilogue of the series finale of “Friends” about eight years ago.  Obviously, it has stayed with me.  For its semblance to truth…  it has stayed with me.

I consider myself fortunate that I’ve made a new family here in Singapore.  And from my end, the best that I could do to express my appreciation is through food.  Either I can give someone food, or I could cook for them.  After all, I firmly believe that the greatest gift is a portion of one’s self or simply, a portion of one’s time.  It’s something I wrote about in Cooking for someone,” here.

Yesterday, I finally had the chance to treat these nice people to my cooking.  And chicken tinola was just the perfect choice for the taste of home and the sense of comfort it could bring.

Chicken Tinola that I made for really good friends.

We had a Malaysian guest for dinner so the foodie and chef wannabe in me wanted to sound articulate in describing the dish should I be asked.  I thought about saying that it’s “Filipino Hainanese Chicken Rice.”  Except that the chicken is left in the soup, that instead of sliced cucumbers it comes with sliced green papaya or chayote squash, that instead of a bed of shredded lettuce it has chili leaves thrown in, and that instead of three condiments – thick sweet soy sauce, sambal chili, and grated ginger in oil – it comes flavored with fish sauce, with the ginger kept in the broth.

I looked up to the ceiling of Darryl & Brenda’s well-appointed kitchen, and read the thought bubble above my head: “There goes my Hainanese Chicken Rice parallel!”

I had to ask our Malaysian guest how the chicken tinola tasted like.  “It’s like a chicken bak kut teh.”

I’d take that comparison any day.



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