My mom makes a ton of food that I love, but sinigang might just be my absolute favorite. It’s probably because sinigang is the most starkly Filipino food I can think of. The food of the Philippines, like much of Filipino culture, is a blend of Asian and Spanish influences. Sinigang, however, is Pinoy through and through. I can never get enough of it.
I literally leapt out of my chair with excitement when one of the contestants on Top Chef made sinigang on last week’s episode. One of the judges described the flavor of the dish this way: “It really makes you sit up straight. In a good way!” Perfect description. Sinigang is quite simple in its essentials — pork, shrimp, and vegetables are boiled together in a clear broth. It’s the flavor that really sets it apart.
Sinigang is sour. (And if I’m making it, it’s VERY sour.) It tastes bright and clean, with the mildly fishy taste of the shrimp adding a little something extra to the broth. Pork ribs and taro make the soup extra filling, while all the greens add beautiful color and tons of nutrients to an already healthy dish.
This is a very basic recipe for sinigang that calls for just a few ingredients. Make it your own by adding whatever vegetables you like. I didn’t use them here, but tomatoes, green beans, and daikon are all common additions. You’ll also want a fresh, hearty green for your sinigang. I used turnip greens, but bok choy, mustard greens, or even Chinese broccoli would all work well.
Read on to learn how to make this bold Filipino dish!
- 1 lb pork spare ribs
- 8 oz deveined, shell-on shrimp
- 1 lb turnip greens, washed and cut into 3-4 inch long pieces
- 1 lb taro, peeled and cubed
- 8 cups water
- 2 teaspoons tamarind soup mix, like the kind by Knorr or Mama Sita
- fresh lemon juice, to taste
- Trim the ribs of all visible fat and cut them into equal portions. Place them in a large pot and cover with one inch of water. Bring the pot to a rolling boil over high heat; boil the pork vigorously for 10 minutes.
- Discard all of the water in the pot, and rinse the pork well to get rid of any remaining scum. Pay close attention to the bones; scum tends to accumulate there. When the pork is clean, place the ribs in a fresh pot along with 8 cups of fresh water. Cover the pot and simmer over medium heat until the pork is tender — about one hour.
- Add the taro, turnip greens, and tamarind soup mix to the pot. Stir well. Taste the broth and add lemon juice until you reach the desired sourness. (I like my sinigang quite sour, so I typically add the juice of 1 1/2 lemons.) Re-cover the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the greens wilt. Finally, add the shrimp to the soup and cover the pot. Cook until the shrimp become opaque — another 5 minutes or so. Serve warm, as a soup or over rice.
- Servings: 6 | Calories: 334 | Total Fat: 16.3g | Saturated Fat: 6.3g | Trans Fat: 0.0g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 267mg | Total Carbohydrates: 25.8g | Dietary Fiber: 5.9g | Sugars: 0.9g | Protein: 21.6g