Thursday, June 12, 2008

Milkfish in Tamarind Soup (Sinigang na Bangus)

Today, being the Independence Day of the Philippines, we celebrated by having a dish that is close to every Filipino's heart. The Sinigang is a sour soup dish similar to Thailand's Tom Yum. A soup is called Sinigang based on the sour broth, not on the meat used. We can use pork or beef, or different seafoods. I have posted on Prawn Sinigang before. Recipe here. There are also several 'souring' fruits that can be used for the soup. Most cooks would rather use the tamarind. (That's also my favorite). Guavas, kamias, and even green mangoes can also be used to make the soup sour. The taste quality would be different if different fruits are used. But the dish would still be called Sinigang.

For today's Sinigang, I used milkfish (bangus) - the national fish of the Philippines. True, it is one of the boniest fish in the world, and one of the trickiest to eat. But the taste and texture of the meat is incomparable to other fishes. We also love to eat the "milkfish fat" which is good for the health. So, we do not let the "bony-ness" or "bones-full" bother us. Besides, all its bones are all lined up neatly, it is easy to "predict" and remove the bones as we eat. For those who are less enthusiastic about picking the bones off, there are boneless milkfish being sold in all markets and groceries.

One thing good about this soup is that it is an all-in one nutritious dish : It has meat, it has vegetables, it has fruits. It is also our hot comforting soup. Most of my friends who have been abroad for some time would ask for this soup once they come back home. Or they would ask for ready-made packs of tamarind or guava soup base powder to bring abroad so they would not miss this soup too much once they are out of the country.

1 big milkfish (around 1 kilo), sliced into 4 to 5 pieces
1 radish, sliced
5 slices ginger
5 tomatoes, deseeded, chopped
1 onion, chopped
300 gm tamarind, washed
6 C water
2 pcs taro root, cleaned, peeled, cubed
1 bunch kangkong (swamp cabbage), cleaned, cut into bite-size pieces
5 pcs finger chillies or jalapeno chillies (siling haba)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil water and add in the tamarind, radish, and taro roots. Simmer until tender. Remove the tamarind, reserve water with the radish and taro. Mash the tamarind in some of the water. Pour the mixture into a strainer, and extract the juices of the tamarind. Discard the seeds and the skin. (Alternately, you can use ready-made tamarind or guava powdered soup mix, so you do not have to do the extraction. Just add the powder in the water after the taro and radish had softened.)

2. Add the tamarind extract back to the boiled water with the taro roots and radish. Boil the broth again. When it boils, add the finger chillies, tomatoes, ginger, and onions. Simmer for about 3 minutes to let the flavors develop.

3. Add the milkfish. When it turns color, add the swamp cabbage. When the soup boils again, season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve hot.

This is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Astrid of Paulchen's Food Blog. This event was launched by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen to celebrate herbs, vegetables, flowers, and produce from around the world. Last week's round-up was done by Maninas of Food Matters.


Kalyn Denny said...

Haven't heard of this type of fish, but I love Vietnamese soup with Tamarind and Tom Yum, so I'm quite sure I would love the flavor of your soup too!

Soli Deo Gloria said...

The Sinigang, the Vietnamese Soup and the Tom Yum do have the similar sour broth base. The difference is in the herbs used (maybe because of what are easily available in their country of origin?). All are yummy!

Jude said...

The fatty part of the bangus is so good. It looks just like how my mom used to make it.

Sinigang said...


Your Sinigang looks really delicious!

I'm collecting a list of the best sinigang recipes in my blog, and I included your sinigang recipe (just a link though, hope you don't mind). You can see it at

Keep in touch!

Tanya Regala

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