What is Tinola?
Tinola is a classic Filipino chicken soup that features a flavorful chicken broth, along with papaya or chayote (sayote), and the leaves of siling labuyo or moringa leaves (malunggay). It is flavored with garlic, onions, ginger, and fish sauce or patis, and is best served with hot rice.
Tinola usually features chicken (manok in Filipino) as its main protein, which is why it is also popularly called tinolang manok. However, you can also use other meat for this deliciously gingery Filipino soup; in this recipe, we used fish or isda! This fish tinola or tinolang isda recipe uses tanigue steaks, but you can also use your favorite fish for this comforting dish!
Tips to Making Tinolang Isda:
1 Use your favorite whole fish or fish steak
This tinolang isda recipe is pretty versatile: you can use any kind of fish that you like. Aside from tanigue, you can also use tuna, pompano, or even bangus or milkfish! Whichever fish you end up using, we recommend using them whole (for smaller fish like pompano) or steak-cut. This is because steak-cut fish are less likely to flake off when they’re cooked, compared to fillet cut fish. If you prefer to use filleted fish, however, make sure to reduce the cooking time to avoid the fish meat disintegrating when you scoop it out.
2 Reduce the fishy taste with lemongrass, and add tomatoes for extra umami.
Lemongrass or tanglad is a great way to add flavor and counter any fishy taste in the broth. It makes the soup taste fresher. On the other hand, tomatoes go great with the other aromatics in the broth, and can add a mild layer of sweetness to balance out the broth. To use lemongrass in this recipe, simply wash the stalks and crush the bulbs (the white part of the lemongrass) with the back of your knife before adding to the boiling broth. The stalks can be removed before serving. Meanwhile, the tomatoes can be sliced into quarters and added in with the papaya.
3 There are substitutes for papaya and malunggay.
Can’t find papaya? You can use sayote or chayote instead. Sayote can be prepared and cooked in the same way as the papaya in this fish tinola recipe! On the other hand, if you can’t find malunggay, you can also use dahon ng sili or chili leaves for your greens. Just take note that unlike malunggay leaves which don’t particularly taste like anything, dahon ng sili will give your tinolang isda a more peppery taste.
Tinolang Isda Recipe
Tinolang Isda Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium red onion peeled, quartered
- 1 1-inch piece ginger peeled, cut into strips
- 4 cups fish stock or water
- 1 Small green papaya
- 2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce) or to taste
- 4 Small tanigue steaks
- 1/2 Cup malunggay leaves
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, heat oil. Saute onion and ginger until fragrant. Pour in fish stock or water, and add papaya. Bring to a boil, then simmer. Cook papaya until papaya is tender.
- Once papaya is tender, season with patis, or to taste, and stir. Slide tanigue steaks into the simmering broth and bring back to a boil. Cook until the fish is just opaque. Stir in malunggay leaves just before serving. Serve with steamed rice while hot.