In the past, tinu-om was only cooked at home. But more than 30 years ago, one small town eatery (carinderia) popularized this dish and made it available to the public–Leah’s Tinuom in Cabatuan, Iloilo. Owned by Manang Sabel, it’s called Leah’s after one of her six daughters, all sent to college by this humble Ilonggo dish.
At present, tinuom is associated with native chicken slices sealed inside a banana pouch then steamed or even boiled to bring out the rich flavor. Tinuom, however, is not just chicken. It can be mushrooms, fish, and many others.
Below is the recipe shared by Manang Sabel herself from the interview done by two of my former students–Severo Caspe, Jr. and Christine Celeste Zaulda some years ago. This is their report:
*Tanglad (Lemon Grass)
*joy’s note: traditional tinuom did not use vetsin at all. I prefer mine done the old way 🙂
*Native Chicken – must be 7-14 months old.
*Bamboo string or any string for tying up the tinu-om parcel
*2 bowls for preparation
After enumerating the ingredients, she then told us how to do the Tinu-om nga manok. There are 5 easy steps:
- In one bowl, place the chicken and season it with onion, tomato, vetsin and the salt and then add some water. The 7-14 month old chickens will have to boil for about 30 minutes for it to be ready for serving. Older chickens will take almost an hour. The picture on the side shows lola Sabel cutting up the chicken parts. One order of tinu-om would have 3-4 pieces.
2. In another bowl prepare the banana leaves to be used for the wrap. Lola Sabel advices that one use Saba banana leaves rather than other kinds of banana leaf. It affects the flavor, aroma and outcome of the Tinu-om.
3. Eventually, pour the marinated chicken into the bowl lined with banana leaf, gather the edges, bring to the center and tie it with a bamboo string or any piece of string. Make sure that it won’t leak.
4. After tying it up, place it in a casserole full of water and then place it on fire. You may steam it but Lola Sabel strongly suggests that you place it within the water casserole for a better result when it comes to taste. Then wait.
Just as Lola Sabel said, the recipe doesn’t have anything. It is not a secret. There is no secret ingredient. “Sa pagtimpla lang guid na ya, amuna siguro indi nila kami magaya sa pagluto sang Tinu-om.” (It’s in the right combination and proportion of the ingredients. Maybe that’s why they can’t cook Tinu-om the way we do.)