Friday, February 22, 2013

Singing Sinigang's Praises!

Sinigang, Candice's Cusina Style!
Sinigang, a tamarind-based Filipino soup, is comfort food at its best! Delicious, easy to prepare and versatile, you can use a variety of humble ingredients to create sinigang's signature sour and savoury soup medley that will tantalize your taste buds and provide warmth during these cold winter days. 

This popular indigenous dish from the Philippines, is comparable to the Thai Tom Yam soup or the Chinese Hot and Sour soup. However, iInstead of using lemongrass and lime (Tom Yam soup) or vinegar (Hot and Soup soup), sinigang's souring agent comes from sampaloc, tamarind in Tagalog. 

Did you know: Besides the tamarind, other fruits like guava, tomato, green mango, pineapple, kamias (bilimbi) and santol (wild mangosteen) can also be used as a souring ingredient in sinigang. 
Sampaloc boiling
If you'd like to make the sinigang's soup base from scratch, use unripe tamarind fruit. Boil the whole fruit until its brown skin separates, then remove the skin. Mash the fruit together with some water, then strain, leaving you with pure sampaloc juice! 
Sinigang Mix
You're able to skip this process because the sampaloc flavouring now comes conveniently in powdered soup mixes. You can stir in the mix in boiling water to create its distinctive mouth-puckering tanginess that quickly infuses in the broth and permeates into the tender pieces of pork and boiled vegetables. 
Unripe sampaloc
Did you know: When making the sampaloc broth from scratch, use unripe tamarind fruit. When unripe, the fruit is snug within its greenish brown pod and when peeled, the pulp should be bright and light green.

Like an instant time machine, one spoonful of this tart and savoury broth quickly transports me back to my childhood when my mom would make a large batch of sinigang to help soothe my sore throat and nurse me back to health. So when I moved out on my own, it was my mission to master this delicious remedy. To my delight, it's simple and easy to make!
Pork Spare Ribs
My mom suggests using pork spare ribs instead of pork belly because the ribs have less fat content but do not skimp on taste. As for the vegetables, she advises adding ingredients that will complement instead of overpowering the sampaloc flavouring. So greens and root tubers like spinach, long green beans, okra, diakon (white radish) and taro root work well in sinigang.
Sinigang ingredients
Like most Filipino dishes, there are no hard and fast rules of making sinigang, so naturally everyone has their own version. Enjoyed either on its own or accompanied with fluffy white rice and crunchy pieces of fried tuyo or daing (salted dried fish), try my version of the recipe and indulge yourself to a hot bowl of sinigang, the perfect companion for tasty comfort and warmth during this winter season. 

Did you know: Sour ingredients like green mangoes, guava, santol and tamarind are abundant in the Philippines, likely causing Filipinos penchant for sour foods like sinigang.

1 lb pork spare ribs, washed & dried
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
10 cups of water
1 packet of instant tamarind soup mix (i.e. Knorr, Mama Sita, etc.)
2 cup diakon, chopped
2 cups taro root, chopped
1 cup of okra, chopped
2 cups of long beans, chopped into 2" pieces 
3 cups of spinach or romain lettuce (chopped)
Patis, pepper & white sugar to taste

1. Heat a large 4 litre pot to medium heat with oil. Saute, spare ribs until then edges are browned, 3-4 minutes. Pour enough water (8-10 cups) to cover ribs then add the chopped tomatoes and patis for seasoning. Let simmer for 40 minutes, until the spare ribs are tender.
Spare Ribs with sampaloc seasonings & root vegetables
2. Once ribs are tender, add the tamarind seasoning mix, salt and pepper. Add a pinch of white sugar if broth is too sour. 

Add broth and sinigang veggies
3. Let the broth come to a boil then add the diakon and taro root, boil until tender for 3-5 minutes. Add the okra and long beans to the sinigang and  boil for another 3-5 minutes. Once all the vegetables are tender, add the spinach or romain lettuce, remove from the heat. Serve with patis, white rice and crunchy pieces of fried tuyo or daing. Masarup!!
Singing Sinigang's Praises!
Try this: Replace the pork spare ribs with pork belly, chicken, beef, shrimp, milkfish and/or tilapia.

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