Friday, February 28, 2014

Chicken Tinola

Chicken TInola ServingI know I said that my last two stew posts were my favorite dish, and this next one is no exception. It may be my uber-fave. It has chicken, ginger, and green papaya. Where else can it go wrong. I am talking about Chicken Tinola.

I love this dish because I was a chicken addict when I was a kid. Anything chicken I would eat. I remember my Dad bringing home KFC and that was a big deal for me. Loved it (and I actually still do – I just do not eat it as much).

But again, I digress…

Green Papaya
Green Papaya - about the size of a small football
I rarely see tinola in the Filipino eateries around here., so again, I had no choice but make it. Since this was going to be a cold rainy weekend, it seemed appropriate to have something warming.

The challenge again was procurement, but unlike the Puchero, this requires less ingredients. The first time I made this, I tried to get green papaya at the Filipino supermarket (Seafood City) but they did not have it. I do not think they had hot pepper leaves as well… so off to Ranch 99 I go (Ranch 99 is another Asian super grocery store).

The first time I attempted to make this, Ranch 99 did not have green papaya. They did have unripe Hawaiian papaya which seemed to be a good substitute. The second time I made this they had Green Papaya from Mexico. It was meant to be.

Do not use ripe papaya: it needs to firm enough to simmer in broth. Ripe papaya will probably disintegrate (and would probably result in a weird sweet-salty flavor). Best to save the ripe papaya for dessert.

Darn, now I am craving for papaya.

You do need to cut the papaya into wedges. Hopefully the pictures below will help on how to do it.

Green Papaya - cross section
This is what it looks like inside. No seeds yet.

Green Papaya wedges
Wedgies! I do remove the white stuff on the inside where the seeds usually go.

I have seen recipes sing chayote squash instead. Although it will probably be yummy (I love Chayote too – as can be seen in my corn-chayote tacos), this is not tinola, at least not how I remember it. It’s the blend of the chicken, green papaya, and ginger that makes this dish rock.

The recipe in Panlasang Pinoy again served as a great base. Without it, I would not know that it used Hot Pepper leaves – the leaves! One can find it frozen in the Asian markets. I pretty much followed the recipe, but I used less fish sauce and salt than the original recipe for health reasons.

Hot Pepper Leaves
Thawing... these are frozen solid when bought.

Chicken Tinola Recipe

  • 1 lb Chicken thighs (about 4)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 pc small green papaya, cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 thumb ginger, cut into strips
  • 3 tsps fish sauce, divided
  • 1 packet hot pepper leaves, thawed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Procedure
  1. Sauté the garlic, onion, and ginger.
  2. Season the chicken with some salt and pepper.
  3. Put-in the chicken, skin side first and 1 tsp of fish sauce. Cook until color turns light brown.
  4. Pour-in the water and the remaining fish oil and put to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Add the green papaya wedges and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the hot pepper leaves.
  7. Add salt (or more fish oil) and pepper to taste (I usually just add pepper).
  8. Serve hot. Share and enjoy!

Chicken TInola Simmering
Simmering...Almost there.


I am so glad I made this dish. It is so good and perfect for a cold rainy day. Ginger seems to be the theme of these last two months, and I love the ginger flavor in this soup. Also the blend with the papaya and chicken really makes it.

Dare I say it…It brings back so many childhood memories. Definitely will be in our winter rotation. 


  1. Tinola is always my go-to for cold, winter nights. And this is perfect for the snow storm forecasted here in the east coast. Great recipe. Thanks for sharing!. Betty Ann @Mango_Queen

    1. Thanks Betty Ann. I just ran into your blog just yesterday. Can't wait to try your recipes.