This is a nice rainy day variation to the more plebian (and one of my all-time favorites) tinola. The lemon grass and large chunks of coconut give this soup that little extra something. The original recipe is credited to Ado Escudero but I have made some adjustments for added flavor and less fuss. What I like about this soup is the depth of flavor for something so incredibly â€œinstant.â€ Most good soups require some time for the broth to develop â€œcharacterâ€ but the strength of ginger, lemongrass and fish sauce shortcuts this process nicely. This is a home-style recipe at its best. And it is really simple to make. The only catch is that it needs fresh coconuts which for many of Marketmanilaâ€™s readers I gather could be an issueâ€¦
First, sautÃ© 6 finely chopped cloves of garlic and about 1 tablespoon of smashed ginger in hot vegetable oil. Take care not to burn the garlic and ginger or the soup will carry that burnt flavor. Add 1 medium onion chopped and several stalks (white part only) of smashed tanglad (lemongrass). Cook another 2-3 minutes until the onion sweats a bit. Add chopped pieces of one whole chicken with bones and all and add patis (fish sauce) to taste (that means several tablespoons for most) and some whole or freshly cracked black peppercorns. Saute until the chicken has become half cooked, then add 6-8 cups of rice washing. Rice washing is the cloudy water that occurs after dry rice grains are soaked and drained out. It has the effect of slightly thickening the soup in short order. Cook for at least 10+ minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked.
When almost ready to serve, add large pieces of medium-ripe buko meat, 3 cups of buko water (the liquid inside fresh coconuts), and dahon ng sili (young chilli leaves). Serve piping hot with a nice bowl of steamed rice. Sometimes I just put my rice straight into the soup bowl. The mixture of meat and vegetable/fruit, the slight spiciness of the greens, the sweetness of the buko, the saltiness of the fish sauce all come together in a very satisfying bowl of soup. If you want to get a little fancy, serve the soup in a buko shell. Slice off a bit of the bottom so it sits flat and steady on a plate.