The other day SBS Food Safari did a feature on Filipino Food. It’s not very often that Filipino food gets center stage, so it was fantastic to finally see our cuisine getting some attention. I am very grateful to the team of Food Safari for doing such a wonderful job! All of the dishes and cooks who showcased our food made me so proud to be Filipino. It was a pity that the episodes are only 30 minutes long – a series on Filipino Food definitely deserves longer!
It also made me realize how neglected this blog has been in the last few months. A new job and a few new hobbies have left me thin for time but watching the Food Safari episode made me want to blog again… and share more of what Filipino food is all about (yes, contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about pork!).
Filipinos love the sour flavour and Sinigang is one of the Philippine’s most loved dishes. In fact, the late Doreen Fernandez, who was one of the most respected food writers in the Philippines once argued that sinigang, rather than adobo should be considered the national dish of the Philippines, after all, Filipinos are the champion lovers of sourness…
Sinigang is a soup whose flavor is soured with fruits abundant in the Philippines like tamarind, guava, green mangoes or bilimbi (kamias). My personal favourite is the guava sinigang. The dish is easily adaptable depending on what protein is on hand, but most frequently made with pork, beef, or prawns. The soup is also rich in vegetables that are easily available in the Philippines like daikon, eggplants, snake beans and water spinach.
I had been craving guava sinigang for a few months. So much so that I bought my own guava tree but was told that it would take at least another two years to bear fruit. I search everywhere for guava only to discover it is quite difficult to source in Australia. Finally, I found a supplier of pure guava puree online and was so relieved that I ordered five kilos to freeze for future use. It you are lucky enough to source the fresh ripe fruit, that’s even better. Boil the fresh fruit until soft and then use a blender to mash the guava into a puree.
Sinigang na Bayabas (Seafood in Guava Sour Soup)
- 12 large prawns
- 500 grams firm white fish fillets, sliced (like ocean perch)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 300 grams guava puree
- 1 long green chili
- 1 piece radish, peeled and sliced
- 1 bunch snake beans (sitaw)
- 1 bunch water spinach (kang kong)
- Peel the prawns and place the heads and peel in a pot and add 1 liter of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime, devein the prawns and set aside.
- Sprinkle some salt on the fish and set aside until ready to use.
- Place the oil in a large pot and add the onions and add the tomatoes. Saute until the onions are translucent, around 5 minutes.
- Add the guava puree, green chili, sliced radish, snake beans and shrimp stock and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- When the soup is done, set the green chili, radish and snake beans aside. Place the broth in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Strain the soup and add it back into the pot and return the chili, radish, and snake beans. Finally add the prawns, fish and water spinach and simmer until the seafood is cooked and the vegetables are warmed, around 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve while the soup is still hot.