Sinigang is undeniably the national soup of the Philippines. The main sources of sourness can come from guava, miso, kamias (bilimbi), and tamarind. I remember my grandmother making a tamarind paste by boiling the tamarind until tender and mashing it in a bowl. In this recipe, I used a tamarind paste from my local Asian grocery store.
I will cook this soup when the very thought of sour and bitterness whet my appetite. These two tastes are also integral components that flavor Chinese cooking. Sourness takes away the fishiness, and the bitter flavor is inherently healing as a medicinal food. The sour flavor comes from the tamarind soup base, and the bitterness from the mustard greens touted for having cancer-fighting antioxidants.
This fish sour soup calls for a hearty fish with meat that stews well like a halibut, grouper, and even tuna. Yellowtail collars are also delicious in this soup. Add the greens last to ensure vibrant green color at the end, no need to put the lid back on when cooking. Serve piping hot with jasmine rice: Enjoy!
1 Salmon collar and 1 salmon tail end
4-6 Prawns, medium size
1-2 Tbsp. of Fish Sauce
1 Small yellow onion
2 Roma tomatoes
3 Bay Laurel leaves
1 Knob of ginger, julienned
3-4 tablespoon of Tamarind paste
1 bunch of Mustard Green (xuelihong) or Dandelion greens
8 slices of Daikon radish
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into round disks (1/4 inch thick)
2 whole serrano peppers
8-10 Okra pods (optional)
- In a medium-size soup pot, heat about one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Swirl around to cover the surface of the pan. Fry the fish skin side down until lightly brown, turn to the flesh side and fry until light brown, avoid cooking the meat. Once the light golden brown color is achieved on both sides, remove from the pan. Remove the excess oil rendered from the fish. Quickly add the prawns. If using with prawns with shell, remove the shell after frying. Once prawns have a light reddish color, remove from the pan. Set the fish and prawns aside.
- In the same pan, stir fry the onion, tomatoes, ginger, and laurel leaves for about 3 minutes. Add the tamarind paste (or any of the souring agents you would like to use) and continue to stir fry for another minute. Add 5 cups of vegetable broth and 1 cup of water (or 6 cups of water). Simmer the broth for 20 minutes under low heat, tasting and seasoning to taste. Add some crushed black peppercorn if desired. Remove the laurel leaves after the 20 minutes of simmering.
- Add the daikon and simmer for 3 minutes, followed by the eggplant and serrano pepper (and okra if using) for 2 minutes.
- Add the fish and prawns and cook for about two more minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Add the mustard greens last as it will cook fast. Remove from heat once the greens have wilted, but still vibrant green. Serve while hot.