Tinolang Manok (Ginger Chicken with Chayote)
At our family house in Baguio City, Philippines, we had a big garden where fruits, vegetables and flowers grew even when unattended. We had several banana trees; rows of lilies, roses and daisies; strawberry plants and sayote (chayote) vines. When we were in grade school, our neighbors and I would pick sayote fruits, slice them into tiny squares just deep enough to keep the fruits intact. Then we would pretend like soldiers attacking the “enemies,” using the sayote fruits as our hand grenades. We would throw them at our enemies and when they hit the ground the fruits would explode like, well, hand grenades.
In my mom’s kitchen, the sayote would be a handy ingredient in many dishes, among them the Tinolang Manok – a chicken ginger stew with vegetables. It was a dish that my mom would make especially in cool, stormy days, or when my siblings and I were sick with flu.
1 pound chicken – could be breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings or any desired combination
2 sayote fuits, peeled with seeds removed and cut into quarters
1 medium-sized ginger, peeled and sliced into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. fish sauce (optional)
5 cups water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch of baby bok choy or choice of vegetable like malunggay or spinach
In a medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and continue heating until it is golden brown. Add ginger before adding the onions. Stir.
Add the chicken pieces until they are they become light brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, or, if using, fish sauce.
Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking until chicken is almost done.
Add the chayote and continue cooking until chicken is tender. Turn off heat and add the bok choy or choice of vegetable. Cover the pot and let the bok choy cook to desired crisp.
Serve in a soup bowl with a side of steaming white or brown rice.
(Makes 4 servings)