- Food and Cooking
Best-Tasting Sinigang Recipes
'Sinigang' is a favorite dish in the Philippines. It is a soup that is fairly prolific because it can be cooked in different ways and with different sets of vegetables and meat (pork, beef, chicken, various fish and seafoods). 'Sinigang' is usually eaten with rice, and typically served hot at lunch. Because of its sour taste and various vegetables, sinigang is refreshing to the palate.
Just like Indonesia's 'sayur asam,' Thailand's 'tom yam,' and Terengganu, Malaysia's 'sinigang,' the Philippines' 'sinigang gets its distinctive sour taste from unripe tamarind, ripe guava, kamias, unripe mango, unripe santol, miso, and young tamarind leaves.
However, the tamarind is the most popular ingredient because it has been commercially processed and conveniently packed in small sachets found in supermarkets. One sachet makes one liter of sour broth.
'Sinigang' is cooked through boiling and simmering a choice meat (pork, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp, prawn, etcetera) with tamarind, onion, tomato, long green pepper, and taro corm.
Other vegetables are added according to required cooking time. It is important that vegetables should not be over-cooked to retain vivid color but they can be well-cooked if desired.
Examples of vegetables that can be added to sinigang are: radish, okra, long string beans, sitaw, eggplant, wombok, sigarillas, and kangkong.
Another method of cooking chicken sinigang is through simmering with shredded young tamarind leaves, crushed ginger, onion, long green pepper, and tomato.
Useful Tips on Preparing Vegetables for Sinigang:
- Wash each vegetable separately.
- If you're using the raw tamarind fruit, wash them thoroughly and boil with a cup of water in a separate pot. Mash the fruits with the back of a spoon and pour through a sieve to get the pureed tamarind juice. Otherwise, just buy a pack of tamarind base soup in the supermarket.
- Ripe guava and kamias are just washed. Raw kamias is very firm to touch and very green. You may peel the skin of ripe guava, if desired.
- Unripe mango and santol are peeled and cut into cubes. The seeds are removed.
- Miso is also sold in packs; but the fresh variety is sold in the fresh section and in vegetable stalls.
- Peel the onion and taro corm, then cut into 4 parts. Just wash the long green pepper. Cut the tomatoes into quarters.
- The radish is usually sliced diagonally with 1/2 inch thick.
- Remove both tips of string beans and cut them into 1-1/2 inch long.
- Cut the stems and tips of okra, then slice into two.
- Separate wombok leaves. Wash and drain.
- Cut the leaves off kangkong stems.
- Eggplants tend to darken so cut these right before cooking.
- Young tamarind leaves are hard to find; so look for these first before you buy other ingredients for the chicken sinigang.
- 1 kg pork lean meat
- 1 or 2 packs of tamarind base soup; or 2 cups raw tamarind
- 2 medium red onions
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 2 long green peppers
- 2 pieces taro corms
- 1 cup each of 5 kinds of vegetables, all washed, cut, and drained
In a large pot, boil meat in 6 cups of water. Remove dark-colored bubbles that appear before reaching boiling point. Add onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and taro corms. Stir tamarind base powder or puree. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and let boil over high heat for 5 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Note: Beef must be pre-cooked to make sure that the beef sinigang is tender to the bite. Chicken is softer than pork and beef so its cooking time is shorter.
Prawn or Shrimp Sinigang
- 1/2 kilo prawn or shrimp -- cut the sharp parts, wash and drain
- 1 cup kamias
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 long green pepper
- 1/2 cup each of 3 choice vegetables
In a pot, boil the kamias in 3 cups of water. Mash the fruits against the side of the pot when cooked. Add onion, tomatoes, and pepper. Drop the prawns or shrimps. Boil until they turned red or dark orange. Add the vegetables and boil for 5 minutes. Serve hot with steamy rice.
How to Cook Sinigang
The ingredients and the how-to steps in cooking fish sinigang are basically the same.
Catfish must be cleaned thoroughly. Remove the head and tail. Rub the skin with salt. Drizzle with vinegar and set aside for about 1 minute. Wash under running water. The skin will turn pale due to the vinegar. Drain and cut into desired sizes.
Milkfish (or bangus) must have the scales removed. No need to wash with vinegar though. Just cut into slices and wash thoroughly. Drain, sprinkle with salt and set aside. You may fry the milkfish before adding to sour broth.