International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Sinigang na Baboy

Bowl of sinigang na baboy

(Filipino sour pork and vegetable stew)

Image Creative Commons by Matt Mendoza

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Filipinos love a sour punch in their food, and sinigang gives them just that in a delicious stew flavored with the tang of tamarind.

Sinigang is a versatile dish. Pork (baboy), beef (baka), fish (isda), chicken (manok) and shrimp (hipon) can all find their way into the pot. Likewise, most any vegetable you have on hand can be added to the mix. Water spinach, long beans, eggplant and okra are very common.

To be honest, most Filipino cooks nowadays use prepackaged sinigang soup mix. But if you want to make it like Lola did (that's "Grandma"), then we have the recipe for you.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Pork shoulder, cubed -- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Tomatoes, seeded and chopped -- 3 or 4
  • Onions, chopped - 1 or 2
  • Garlic, chopped -- 3 or 4 cloves
  • Fish sauce (patis) -- 1 cup
  • Water -- 8 cups
  • Tamarind paste -- 1/2 cup
  • Boiling water -- 1 cup
  • Green chile peppers -- 3 or 4
  • Vegetables (see variations) -- about 4 cups
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste

Method

  1. Add the pork, tomatoes, onions, garlic and fish sauce to a large pot. Place the pot over medium-high flame and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid a bit. (You may want to open a window. Fish sauce does have a smell.)
  2. Add the water and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface, and then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the pork is tender, an hour to an hour and a half.
  3. Place the tamarind paste into a heat-proof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let set for 5 to 10 minutes, then mash the pulp with clean fingers to mix the tamarind and water well. Strain through a sieve and discard the fibers and seeds.
  4. Stir the tamarind water into the simmering pot, cover again and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add your desired vegetables to the pot and press them down into the simmering liquid. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through but still firm, another 10 to 20 minutes.
  6. Serve hot in bowls accompanied by steamed rice.

Sinigang Variations

  • Vegetables: Prepare the vegetables as you would for any soup or stew by chopping them into bite-sized pieces as needed. Try spinach, water spinach (kankong), mustard greens, green beans (sitaw), broccoli, eggplant, okra, potatoes, daikon, bok choy, cabbage, carrots.
  • Sinigang broth: You can add extra flavor and body to your broth by simmering some pork belly, pork neck bones or pork ribs along with the cubed pork. The meat for sinigang is traditionally just boiled in the liquid, but you can brown it in oil first if you like.
  • Alternatives to tamarind to get that sour tang: Tamarind isn't your only option. Sour flavor can be added with calamansi juice, lime juice, vinegar, or with chunks of green mango, guava or bilimbi (tree cucumber). Use as much as needed to give your sinigang a pleasant tang.
  • Sinigang na baka (Beef sinigang): Substitute beef stew meat for the pork.
  • Sinigang na manok (Chicken sinigang): Use chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh. Or you can use bone-in chicken pieces too. You will only have to simmer the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes to cook it through before adding the tamarind and vegetables.
  • Sinigan na isda (Fish sinigang): Milkfish (bangus) is traditional in the Philippines, but you can use any kind of fish you like. Fish steaks hold together well. Or use chunks of fish fillets. For fish sinigang, cook the vegetables in the tamarind broth first, and then add the fish at the end to keep it from overcooking and falling apart.
  • Sinigang na hipon (Shrimp sinigang): Use head-on, unpeeled shrimp if you can, or peeled and cleaned shrimp if you prefer. Shrimp cooks quickly, so follow the directions for fish sinigang.
  • Sinigang na miso: Stir a couple tablespoonsful of miso to the simmering broth when you add the vegetables.

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