Since I got pregnant I could only eat sweet and citrus flavors. I love fruits more than ever especially the ones with a lot of sugar like persimmon, watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, and sometimes avocado drizzled with honey. I also love Pho soup but it takes time to make and I don’t have the energy so I got reminded of one famous Filipino dish called “Sinigang” and how this dish used to make me want to eat a lot. For us, in the Philippines, our moms make the best food in the world and my mom, a kitchen genius, used to make this for our family quite frequently. The broth of this soup is so good it will make you want to have soft white rice with it. Oh, and the milkfish, when its belly is thick with fats, it tastes so good! For me, it’s the only fish with a yummy belly!
Back in the Philippines, we use this fish a lot. It’s one of the most popular fish in the country along with sardines and tilapia. We use fish in many ways like in soups, stews, and stir-fry dishes, or we simply fry the fish and dip it in soy sauce, calamasi, onions, tomatoes, and some red chilis. When milkfish is cut in half lengthwise, seasoned and marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and calamasi, and then fried until the skin is crispy and the meat is golden brown, we call it “daing na bangus”. If you have seen the Philippine map its an archipelago with 7,107 islands, and aside from Hawaii it’s the closest to the deepest seabed in the world—the Marianas Trench so you can easily imagine how abundant the country is with marine life. The country is teeming with real fresh wild caught fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. It’s definitely blessed.
With that said, I can’t help to mention this—since you know I like to know what’s going on around me—the Pacific has been in conflict for some time now due to the overlapping maritime borders that East and Southeast Asian countries share. The population is growing and the food supply needed to support the entire population growth of the region is growing really fast—hence, the militarization of the Pacific. Some countries even took measures that would prevent their neighbors from fishing in their own Exclusive Economic Zones. However, as if that’s not enough, the Fukushima meltdown is aggravating the insatiable needs of the region who rely vastly on a seafood diet. It’s not a good picture but things are getting better aside from the Fukushima issue.
Anyway, Sinigang is a very traditional Filipino food that you can find in any home during lunch time even in small restaurants along the streets but particularly in the North. Sinigang can be pork, shrimp, or chicken but bangus or milkfish is my favorite because it’s the healthiest version. Everyone knows by now that we get good omegas and iodine from fish. You can try any of these meat versions and I’m sure you will also love them. The taste of the broth comes from real fresh and unripe boiled tamarind that is mashed. You will know when the tamarind is not ripe because it is tough and the pulp is still greenish inside when you break it in half while the ripe tamarind is soft and has a brown pasty pulp. You can also use miso for a thicker broth, radish is also great, ground guava leaves, and tomatoes for a more sour broth. I love this dish so much because it’s very appetizing! Aside from that, you can put okra, eggplants, and string beans, for added nutrients and green peppers for a little kick of spiciness. Green chili peppers (not bell peppers) reduce the fishy taste and adds a good spicy aroma to the dish. For leafy greens, you can use potato leaves or water spinach, bokchoi, or a leafy cabbage called pechay.
Traditionally, sinigang is cooked in a clay pot but now things have changed and metal pots are much more often used in the modern Filipino kitchen. Although some regions still use clay pot, it is not as common as when I little. In my opinion clay pot cooked food yields the healthiest and the best-tasting dishes. I cannot simply explain the difference in words. You need to try it to know the difference. A sudden rush of childhood memories came back to me as I was writing this and I still remember drinking ice cold coca-cola when I was a kid after eating this dish. Back then, I didn’t know how bad coke was for our body! But yes coca-cola is a big part of the new generation of Filipinos. Some even prefer drinking powdered orange juice like Tang or Ovaltine. In general, Filipinos love sweet beverages and because in the Philippines it’s almost always warm, Filipinos love anything cold and carbonated after eating lunch.
Note that this dish is super easy and anyone can make this even those who never cooked before. See, I couldn’t cook anything until I had to learn to feed my husband’s big appetite! And even though Balkans are big pork eaters, my husband has changed for good and is now more of a reducetarian than an omnivore. He still eats some turkey from time to time so maybe the best description is really “reducetarian”. Leave me a comment if you have any questions or DM me on Instagram. Ciao!
Note: This will serve 2 people. If you want to make for 4 or more just add more fish and more water then adjust the salt and pepper.
4-quarts deep pot
1 small saucepan
1 fine strainer
1 wooden spatula
1 large milkfish, cleaned, cut into 3-4 pieces
7 cups filtered water
3 cups string beans, cut into 2 inches
8-10 fresh raw tamarind, unskinned
2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 bundle bokchoi or potato leaves
2 green peppers (long ones)
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 medium radish, cut into quarters
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt, to taste
1/4 tsp pepper
1. Bring water to a boil. Add tomatoes, onions, and radish. When the tomatoes are soft and mushy lower the fire.
2. In a small saucepan with (2 cups) water, throw in the tamarind until it is soft enough to mash. Using a small bowl, mash the tamarind in a fine strainer extracting all the juices. Set the juice aside and throw away the mashed skin and seeds.
3. Throw in the milkfish and simmer for at least 8 minutes.
4. Add the tamarind juice, fish sauce, salt and pepper, and green peppers. If you have okra, eggplants, and any other neutral tasting veggies add them at this point. Simmer for a minute or two. Throw in the bokchoi or potato leaves. Turn off the heat because the vegetables must remain crisp.
5. Serve in a bowl with white jasmine rice or as is. Enjoy!
Copyright ©2017 Spiceverse. All Rights Reserved.
This website is protected by copyright and distributed under licenses restricting copying, distribution, and decompilation. Copyright is secured automatically when work is created. Therefore, citation is required when passing-off copyrighted materials. All the contents of this website are the exclusive property of spiceverse.com