Sinigang na Manok is a comforting, brothy, Filipino chicken stew, tangy and tart from tamarind, fragrant from ginger and garlic with a kick of heat from Bird Eye chilies.
Serve with steamed white rice and a dipping bowl of fish sauce with a chili crushed into it on the side.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
- 10 chicken thighs (about 1.8 kg or 4 lbs)
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) MSG*
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
- Vegetable oil, for browning
- 2 to 4 finger chilies (aka Bird Eye)
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced
- 1/2 medium ginger root, peeled and sliced (about 60 g or 1/2 cup)
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced (about 30 g or 3 tablespoons)
- 2 plum tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons (14 g) whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) MSG*
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) patis (fish sauce) or Maggi Seasoning (See TIPS)
- 8 cups (almost 2 liters) chicken broth
- 3 or 4 baby white radishes, peeled and sliced (1/4″ thick)
- 20 to 30 pieces (225 g or 1/2 lb) okra, woody tips trimmed off
- 20 to 30 (225 g or 1/2 lb) green beans, stems removed
- 3 cups (60 g) tamarind leaves or 5 lime leaves, lightly crushed
- 1/2 14-oz block (200 g) tamarind pulp
*I use MSG because it really enhances the flavor of savory foods. But if you do not like to use MSG, it can be omitted.
1. Brown the chicken well. Set aside.
– Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel.
– Rub with MSG and salt.
– Pour enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of a large 8-quart pot or Dutch oven (do not use non-stick).
– Brown the chicken pieces over medium-high heat. Be patient and get good color on your chicken.
– Remove the browned chicken to a dish. Set aside.
2. Sauté the aromatics and seasonings.
– With a sharp-tipped knife, cut a slit down the length of each finger chili. (This will release the oils in the chilies, but not the seeds.)
– In the same pot used for browning the chicken, sauté the finger chilies until softened and starting to brown.
– Add in the onion, ginger and garlic, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to pick up any browned bits left from browning the chicken. Sauté until fragrant.
– Stir in the tomato and sauté until softened.
– Then add the peppercorns, MSG, lime leaves, if using, and the patis or Maggi. Stir until fragrant.
3. De-glaze the pan. Then add the broth and simmer the chicken and the radishes.
– Pour about 2 cups of the broth into the pot.
– De-glaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
– Add the chicken back into the pot.
– Pour in the remaining broth and bring to a gentle boil.
– Skim off any foam that forms on top of the broth.
– When the broth clears, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
– Add in the radishes and cook for 10 to 15 more minutes until the chicken is done and the radishes are just fork-tender.
4. While the chicken and radishes are simmering, roast the okra and green beans.
– Heat the oven to 425°F (218°C).
– Toss the okra and green beans in a little vegetable oil and a sprinkle of coarse salt and place single-layer on a baking sheet.
– At about the same time that the radishes are added to the simmering broth, place the okra and green beans in the oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until just fork-tender.
– Remove the okra and green beans to a large serving bowl. Cover with foil and set aside.
5. Remove the chicken and radishes from the pot and strain the broth.
– When the chicken is cooked (the meat will be tender and starting to pull away from the bone) and the radishes are just fork-tender, remove to the large serving bowl with the okra and green beans. Cover with foil and set aside.
– Pour the broth through a sieve into a large saucepan or into a large bowl and then back into the original pot.
6. Bring the strained broth back up to a simmer. Add the tamarind leaves, if using.
– Bring the broth back to simmer over low heat.
– Add the tamarind leaves, if using.
7. Soften the tamarind pulp, push through a sieve and then stir into the broth.
– In a small bowl, combine the tamarind pulp and about a cup or two of the hot, strained broth.
– Mash the pulp and broth together to make a loose paste.
– Push the tamarind paste through a sieve to remove any seeds or fibers. Don’t forget to scrape all the pulp sticking to the bottom of the sieve.
– Stir the paste into the broth, to taste, until the desired amount of sourness is reached. (Discard any unused paste.)
– Add additional patis or Maggi Seasoning, if needed, to taste.
8. Optional: Crisp the chicken before serving.
– In the large skillet, heat enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan until hot and shimmering, but not smoking.
– Place the chicken pieces, skin-side down in the skillet and let cook until the skin is crispy, 1 or 2 minutes.
– Remove the chicken to the large serving bowl with the vegetables.
9. Ladle the hot broth over the vegetables and serve.
– Ladle the hot, simmering broth into the large serving bowl over the vegetables and chicken (unless the chicken was crisped).
– Serve with steamed white rice and a dipping bowl with patis or Maggi with crushed hot red or green chilies on the side.
ABOUT THIS RECIPE
Sinigang na Manok is a Filipino favorite. This lip-smacking, sour, spicy, brothy stew is often prepared as a one-pot dish, served with steamed rice and a dipping bowl of fish sauce (patis) on the side.
There are a myriad of variations, depending on the preferences of each individual household. Different souring agents such as unripe mango or guava, tamarind and even lemon juice are used. Vegetables may include not only green beans, radish and okra (as used in this recipe), but also eggplant, tomatoes, taro and water spinach, among others.
One version of Sinigang na Manok, called Sinampalukang Manok, specifically requires the use of tamarind and tamarind leaves. In our house, we prefer to use tamarind pulp, which can readily be found in many Asian grocery stores. However, since I can rarely ever find fresh tamarind leaves, we use lime leaves, which is much easier to find and adds a fragrant, citrusy “pop” to the dish.
While this dish can be made by simply sautéing all the ingredients, adding the broth and then simmering until the chicken and vegetables are cooked, this recipe takes a few extra steps to maximize flavor and texture. The little bit of extra effort is worth it!
Here are some helpful tips:
1) Flavorful ingredients:
Filipino food is very vibrant and flavorful. Sinigang na Manok is a good example of this. Every ingredient adds a layer of flavor and interest. Fortunately, ingredients commonly found in Southeast Asian cooking are becoming more widely available – not just in Asian groceries, but in some major grocery stores as well.
– Tamarind is a sweet and sour fruit which is used in both sweet and savory applications. The pulp of this pod-like fruit can often be bought as a solid block, a paste or a concentrate.
– This can be found in the canned and dried fruit section of Asian grocery stores or even in the freezer section.
– After opening, wrap well and then refrigerate for up to 3 months or freeze up to a year or longer.
**Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any fresh tamarind leaves. But if and when I do, I will update this post.
– Limes leaves have a citrusy bite to them. To extract the most flavor from them, bruise them or crush them a little before adding them to your dishes.
– These can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores next to other herbs.
– Store loosely wrapped or in a plastic baggie in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
– They may be frozen as well, but will lose their vibrant color.
Patis (fish sauce) & Maggi Seasoning
Patis (fish sauce)
– This is a salty, umami-rich sauce made from fermented fish. It is a distinctive Asian condiment that defines the flavor in so many Southeast Asian dishes. Its aroma is quite pungent and can be over-powering if not used correctly.
– Patis can be found in most Asian grocery stores near other condiments such as soy sauce.
– Maggi Seasoning is another umami-rich condiment sauce. I believe it can be likened to Worcestershire or soy sauce, but with its own distinctive taste.
– This can also be found in most Asian grocery stores in the condiments aisles close to the soy sauce.
Which should you use?
– Patis is the traditional seasoning used in Sinigang na Manok. But its strong fishy notes and pungent aroma can be a bit much for some people. However, that pungency does dissipate during cooking, leaving behind a light, salty flavor.
– I offer Maggi Seasoning as a viable and delicious alternative to patis for those who may need a “gateway” seasoning in their Southeast Asian cooking. It is a bit richer than patis and adds a salty, savory, umami layer of flavor. Maggi Seasoning works well here because it complements the richness of the tamarind.
Fresh onions, garlic, ginger and peppercorns
– When cooking quick and convenient, I am not shy from using dry, ground spices like onion powder, garlic powder or ground ginger. But when cooking something that benefits from slow simmering, fresh is always best.
– Whole peppercorns add a bit more aroma to the dish than straight ground black pepper. Crush them lightly to extract the most flavor out of them.
2) flavorful cooking:
When I was young, Sinigang was served fairly often. It was a one-pot preparation of sautéing and simmering. It’s very nostalgic.
There are a few extra little steps that I like to do when I prepare Sinigang na Manok for my family that may stray a bit from what I knew as a child, but that I think enhance the experience.
Brown the chicken well.
– Well-browned chicken will add deeper, richer chicken flavor to your stew. So take your time and get some good color on your chicken.
De-glaze the pan.
– All the stuff stuck to the bottom of the pot from browning and sautéing is pure flavor. Be sure to extract all that goodness by adding a little broth and scraping it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. That is flavor you cannot buy.
Roast the vegetables.
– Roasting vegetables, like the okra and green beans, enhances the flavor through caramelization that can only happen in dry heat cooking.
– Vegetables also maintain their firm texture and don’t become soggy when roasted.
– Other vegetables that you may like to use in Sinigang na Manok, like eggplant and even tomatoes, are delicious when roasted.
Strain the broth.
– Straining out the bits of ginger, garlic and peppercorns makes the broth cleaner and smoother. Nice for sipping. (There’s nothing better if you’re feeling under the weather.)
Crisp the chicken.
– We love crispy chicken skin, especially when it is imbued with all the wonderful slow-simmered flavors of the Sinigang na Manok. This is not something usually done with sinigang (or with these types of stews in general). But in our house, we think that little extra bit of crispy texture is delightful.
Serve Sinigang na Manok with Steamed White Rice!
Try other Filipino Dishes!