Sinigang is a Filipino sour soup dish prepared with tamarind then with meats like pork, beef, chicken, fish and prawns, they also prepared with different vegetables like kangkong, taro, radish, string beans, okra, green chillies, tomatoes and eggplant.
A true Filipino dish that can be traced back even before the Spanish came to the Philippines, as suggested by food historians its origins are most likely indigenous hence there is no documentation of where and what is the origin of sinigang is. Having said that there are similar dishes on neighboring countries like the Malaysian Assam Pedas Ikan, Indonesian Sayur Asem, Vietnamese Canh Chua and Thai Tom Yam which can be an origin of Sinigang.
Through time this dish had evolved into many forms where souring agents were changed from tamarind to different fruits like guava, raw mango, calamansi, lemon, kamias and santol to name some but there is this new kid on the block where fruits are used not as a sour element but to enhance the flavour by adding a sweet profile to it hence strawberries and even watermelon is used. At first I was a bit skeptical on this new style of sinigang but after I tried it, the dish makes sense as the sweet flavour adds to the complexity at the same time complements the already existing sour, savory and sometimes hot profile.
Sinigang sa Pakwan like the name suggest, it’s a sinigang but with pakwan added (watermelon), it still uses the same tamarind souring agent but with the addition of other ingredients that contributes to its fresh taste like the ginger and lemongrass. I love this dish in fact I don’t think I can go back to the usual beef sinigang; the sweetness gives so much flavor it’s even more addicting than the original beef version. Have you ever tried sinigang this way?
- 1 kg beef brisket, cut into cubes
- 1 large seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed
- 8-10 pcs round small taro, peeled
- 12-15 pcs okra
- 1 bunch water spinach, trimmed
- 1 large white onion, cut into wedges
- 1 thumb sized ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 stalk lemongrass, white part only, whole and pounded
- 4 pcs green finger chillies
- 40g packet sinigang (tamarind) mix or 400 g tamarind
- fish sauce
- freshly ground black pepper
- Boil beef in water for 10 minutes just to remove the scum, rinse in running water to remove any impurities.
- Place watermelon on the bottom then top it with beef, onion, ginger and lemongrass then top it up with water just enough to cover everything. If using tamarind place it on a muslin cloth and tie the ends. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour minutes.
- Add the taro then continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the sinigang mix or if using tamarind extract all the juice by wringing the muslin cloth multiple times then remove once all juice is extracted. Remove the lemongrass at this point.
- Add green finger chillies and okra then cook for 5 minutes.
- While boiling add the kangkong leaves and cover, turn of the heat.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper and fish sauce.