After a long drive out of town for a few days, we arrived home hungry and exhausted. I enjoy travel and get excited when we eat out to try new restaurants. But after a few days, the novelty wears off and our bellies long for the familiarity of the Filipino staple rice and ‘ulam’ (entrée). I found chicken in my freezer. I decided right then we were going to have Chicken Tinola for dinner.
The clear, ginger soup gave me the warmth and comfort. The solid chunks of chicken were tender from the slow simmer. The translucent, light green chayote chunks were soft and gave the soupy meal the lighter texture. The addition of water spinach and tomato slices made the entire bowl more inviting. I was hungrily slurping my bowl of the Filipino classic soup, chicken tinola and I just kept wanting for more.
Tired and worn out, I longed for a family favorite to soothe us. There was nothing that good chicken soup could not do. To the unfamiliar, chicken tinola is a classic Filipino ginger-flavored chicken soup which is a complete meal.
When making Filipino soup meals, I always do one simple task my late mom taught me: to save the rice wash, also called in Tagalog as “hugas bigas” (say ‘hoo-gas bee-gas’). Our older generations never threw away anything. Rice wash always made the broth taste even more flavorful. I diligently saved the rice wash and poured it all in the pot.
The clear broth was piping hot, smelled richly of ginger and fish sauce, while the tender chicken slices, the vegetable greens altogether gave me the solace, just like an old friend’s soothing spirit. I paired it with a big bowl of fragrant jasmine white rice, watched the soup seep into the steamed rice grains and once I had a few giant mouthfuls, I knew everything would be okay.