Sinampalukang Manok a la Marketman

A soothing elixir made of that universally loved combination of chicken, chicken broth and an added flavoring agent, in this case young sampalok or tamarind leaves. In its simplest form, this was probably just chicken, broth and tamarind leaves and seasoning in the form of salt or fish sauce with perhaps some onions and/or tomatoes — but the version we make at home makes it a bit closer to a chicken sinigang with several more greens added to ensure a complete meal in a bowl. The last time I featured a recipe for sinampalukang manok was almost six years ago, and I didn’t even have the key ingredient (young leaves of tamarind) then, so I figured I should post another recipe here.

I was always under the impression that tamarind trees send out a lot of new shoots or leaves during the rainy season, and it’s easiest to purchase the young leaves then. But I found these wonderful leaves at the market over the weekend so I bought them and decided to make sinampalukang manok to enjoy during the uncharacteristically wet and rainy day on Sunday. To make, I started off by adding a little oil to a soup pot, sauteed some sliced onions and large thin slices of ginger and then several pieces of chicken parts until slightly browned. Add a bit of patis or fish sauce at this stage. Next add several cups of rice washing and some good homemade chicken stock to the pot. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is quite cooked. I then added about a cup of homemade tamarind broth (made from scratch) or you can opt for a bit of instant tamarind mix if you wish to take a shortcut. Add the young tamarind leaves (no stems, just leaves) and stir to mix. Taste the broth and you will probably need to season with salt, fish sauce or both.

I then added some sliced eggplants, sitaw or yard long beans, cut into two inch long pieces, some ampalaya tendrils and kangkong for added greens factor. Add some whole and or sliced finger chilies (siling labuyo) if you like. I know several folks like this dish with tomatoes, so go ahead and add those if you like, right up at the start of the recipe. I sometimes crave a bit of bitterness, hence the ampalaya tendrils, but in this particular case, the ampalaya was downright evil bitter! So if I were you, axe the ampalaya tendrils unless you are a huge fan of them. Serve hot with some steamed rice. Incredibly comforting and restorative food. You can adjust the degree of sourness to your liking, but keep in mind the sourness is meant to be more subtle, not so in your face like some of the tartest sinigangs you have tasted.


28 Responses

  1. MM, I have a question about sinampalukan. Most people I have talked to know this dish to be similar to what is pictured above, but sinampalukang manok to me has quite a thicker sauce, derived solely from the natural juices of the chicken used (usually dark meat). It has garlic, onion, ginger, tomatoes, and sili leaves. This dish is my favorite, but it seems to be another version altogether. Would you have any clue what it’s really called? I just don’t want to keep insisting it is sinampalukan, when it really isn’t.

  2. we used to have this on a regular basis, but somehow lost the taste for it. as i see your photo now, we may be having it again real soon.

  3. My wife usually prepares this dish with real native chicken slowly cooked in a palayok. She also puts the blood of the chicken in it. Sarap!

  4. I grew up not eating sinampalukang manok because my mom said it’s malansa. I tried it once in a restaurant somewhere in the North and it did taste a bit off. Does that depend on the chicken itself?

    Any tips MM on what to do about this? Thanks. :)

    BTW I’ve been an avid reader for years. This is my first comment. :D

  5. Hi MM. What’s the difference between sinampalukang xxx and sinigang na xxx? The post linked to in the first paragaph indicates the use of sinigang powder/bouillon in the preparation of sinigang na manok so it appears they are different. I always thought they were the same thing.

  6. Carla, that’s too funny. :) F, hmm, good point. Actually, I have only seen sinampalukang in reference to manok, so that’s one distinction. Although, should it be applied to isda or fish, I presume it is only in reference to fish with sampalok. Whereas sinigang opens up to a myriad, and over 20+ different souring agents, from sampalok to green mango, kamias, tomatoes, sineguelas, guavas, etc. So the word sinigang is a sour soup that could be but is not necessarily made with sampalok… whereas I presume sinampalukang xxx refers to a sour dish ONLY made with sampalok or sampalok leaves… Pixie, hmm, I actually find some commercially raised chickens to have an off-taste due to their feed, that sometimes has a fishy or fishmeal component in it (cheaper feed). Native chickens have a strong flavor, but I wouldn’t describe it as malansa, more like gamey… If your chickens are innately off-odor, then almost ANY dish you make with them could be a problem, with the exception of deep fried or highly masked by spices kind of dishes. Get your chickens from reputable brands and that should reduce the fishiness of it. Alternatively, buy free-range organic, but pay the price. Tinolang manok is another favorite, and if your sinampalukang is malangsa, your tinola would be worse I think… Jeff, yes, I can see this done wonderfully in a palayok. The addition of blood is a new twist for me. crabbychef, your comment is fascinating. I have always assumed the sinampalukang manok to be a soup, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have evolved from another form. The dish you describe is more of a viand than a soup, and it sounds delicious. I have always “doctored” our sinampalukang manok with actual sampalok fruit broth as I found the flavor of the broth too subtle. But if there is no water added, and you only have the chicken and aromatics and lots of sampalok leaves, I can see the concentration of flavors being quite appealing. Will have to try that dish when I get more sampalok leaves… I wouldn’t worry about the use of the same name, for all you know, it’s more historically correct to refer to the dish you describe as “sinampalukang manok”…

  7. My mom makes an old-fashioned, probinsya style sinampalukang manok, using native chicken. She buys live chicken and dresses it up herself. The blood is mixed with uncooked rice, thus when cooked, it gives the soup a thick consistency. We just love it.

    To avoid lansa, my mom would rub salt all over the chicken. She makes “sangkutsa” the chicken, to allow the chicken to release its natural oil and flavor. While doing so, there is only minimal mixing/stirring, precisely to avoid imparting the “malansa” taste.

    She uses talbos ng sampalok as her souring agent. The Tagalog version is without any vegetables. That is why having sinampalukang manok with all those vegetables like in sinigang in “weird” for me. In some restos, they call it sinigang manok.

  8. Good dish as usual MM. I once saw chef Bruce (TV) cooked sinigang using both sour and sweet sampalok, I wonder if it will work with sinampalukan manok as well…

  9. Hi Pixie, if you don’t have easy access to organic chicken you can use ordinary chicken but make sure you rub salt and saute the pieces well to rid of that langsa, as Blackwidow suggested. Our Moms have very similar cooking styles and we’ve never had langsa problems. We also love the blood with uncooked rice! I dip it separately in kalamansi, patis and sili and it is a meal in itself!

    This made me realize it has been ages since I had sinampalukang manok. I so miss it AND my Mom!

  10. MM, how’s the cookbook coming along? Your photos lately look more and more “cookbook-quality”.

  11. I always thought the difference from sinigang and sinampalukan was the use of the sampalok leaves and no other vegetables. Sinigang usually is accompanied by other vegetables, while the sinampalukan only has sampalok leaves.
    Sinigang generally is where sampalok is used. When you use a different sour ingredient that will be “sinigang sa XXX” isn’t it? sinigang sa miso, sinigang sa mangga, sinigang sa bayabas, etc.

  12. ” Tinolang manok is another favorite, and if your sinampalukang is malangsa, your tinola would be worse I think…”

    In practice the ginger component of tinola would erase the “lansa” that comes with some chickens. Even before San Miguel wisened up and started marketing their brewery byproducts as chicken feed, ground dried fish was already being fed to chickens in my town and I learned later, in China too. The earliest KFC franchises that opened in Hong Kong ran into this problem because on any given day you could confuse their fried chicken with fish and chips.

  13. raylan, I would readily agree that sinampalukan was most traditionally made with the leaves, and yes, likely without the other veggies. But I don’t think sinigang is necessarily synonymous with tamarind only as the main souring agent. I may be wrong, but I would have thought sinigang referred to a sour soup or style of cooking, whether the souring agent was kamias, kalamansi, sampalok, bayabas, etc. Hmmm… this deserves further study, but thanks for raising that… whackerZ, haven’t even started… :) I just happen to have two cameras now…Faust, sorry, no kambing recipes, I haven’t really cooked much with goat…

    I’m back, after checking in with a reference material by Doreen Fernandez, I am more likely to agree with her suggestion of broad types of food preparation that were likely in use in the archipelago for centuries. Therefor, kinilaw as a way of preparing dishes, with the actual ingredients changing from place to place, season to season. The same goes for halabos for steaming food, or inihaw for grilling and paksiw for cooking with vinegar. Sinigang would be the equivalent for cooking with a souring agent such as santol, kamias, sineguelas, green mango, batuan, alibangbang leaves, etc. This theory also seems to build on the fact that there was once a distinct sampalok season, where it was plentiful during the traditional rainy season for say 2-3 months, and less available another 3-4 months of the year, and not freshly available for another 4 months of the year… so the sour soup with sampalok would have been most common only during a three month window, and not surprisingly, when one would want a hot soup. So in periods when sampalok was not available, other souring agents were likely used so that the style of cooking, the sour soup sinigang, would be possible the whole year round… However, what is interesting is that in Malay, singgang refers to a sour soup with tamarind… so one would have to see if that led to the origins of sinigang as we know it today… Interesting, to say the least. :)

  14. MM, you should try the version using sampalok flowers! tastes a lot better than just using leaves.

    to make: wash the flower well and drain. remove most of the hard branches, add some salt and squeez to release the juice. you may add it as it is to the simmering chicken as you would do with the leaves. or if you dont want to mess your sinampalukan with “basura” (in our household, we refer to the errant branches as “basura” of the soup, he he) you have boil the squeezed leaves in some water, strain the juice before adding it to the chicken. yum!

  15. It’s a rainy Wednesday morning and I feel like eating sinigang for breakfast after reading your post…

  16. this is the first time i heard of sinampalukang manok with “dahon ng ampalaya” and i think sinampalukan is “bagay” only with chicken and i haven’t thought of anything else to be cooked as sinampalukan other than chicken…

  17. Thanks for posting this, my diabetic husband rarely eats pork sinigang but when I saw this option for sour soup, I told him I was making sinigang with chicken breast (minus skin), lots of bokchoy, a two pound bag of okra (he loves okra even though he just started eating them when we got married), and an inch of pounded ginger. I added a handful of shredded pork jowl bacon for a little bit of grease and lessened the overall soupiness. He loved it! You are an inspiration to this kusinera in an American kitchen. Kudos!

  18. Hi Jeff, I agree with you. The tagalog version of this dish use only native chicken and only the “dumalaga” or young chicken at that. Also. the blood is slowly dripped onto some rice which when cooked somehow thickens the soup, or maybe because they also include gabi in sinampalukang manok.

  19. Sinampalukang manok reminds me of a time when I was young on the beaches of Matabungkay. Every time we went to the beach house we had this for lunch.

  20. goat is the other meat cooked this way, and the head of the goat is usually the preferred part for this. i remember peering inside a huge pot in a provincial carinderia line-up, and dropping the pot’s lid in shock when i saw a whole goat head inside! the flustered owner said it was sinampalukang kambing, and my companions said it was fairly common especially among alcohol drinkers.

  21. I read one inquiry about the off odor of the chicken. I used to work in the restaurant. What we normally do when preparing the chicken is massage it with salt first before washing. For me, that has often worked. Sometimes, we also soak it in water and salt solution for about 5 mins, but I find the direct scrubbing more effective. Your chicken wont be salty as you will rinse it anyway.

  22. Blackwidow’s sinampalukan version is the one i know and i’ve been craving for it. In fact, I went in Chicago poultry and livestock this afternoon to buy a live chicken to butcher so that we can get the blood and mix with uncooked rice. Unfortunately, they did not allow me to take home a live chicken they said they have to butcher it in the store and drain the blood because it is a Pakistani store and they sell it halal. So I think they really have to drain the blood and you can’t get it. So I went home with nothing. :(

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