Sinigang is one of the classic Filipino dishes that many Filipinos love especially during the rainy days. It comes in different variations, protein source and souring agent depending on the region it came from. So what makes a Sinigang Dish a Sinigang and why do we Filipinos love it?
Sinigang is a soup dish made from a variety of protein sources like fish, chicken, pork or beef with vegetables. It has a sour taste from a variety of souring agents. The various souring agents used in making Sinigang are: tamarind (sampaloc), Kamias, Tomatoes, Green Mango, Guava, Santol, Calamansi and Batuan which is a small round green fruit used in the Visayas. The type of souring agent used gives it a unique flavor and nutritional value. Here are some examples of the different Sinigang variations:
1. Seafood Sinigang. This basic sinigang broth uses rice washing or hugas bigas, seafood and a souring agent of choice. The traditional souring agent is sour juice from unripe tamarind fruit or tamarind powder. The common seafood used are 10 cm prawns, bangus belly cut in half, salmon, tanguigue (mackerel) and talakitok (salt water jack). Seafood sinigang is a good option for elderly individuals who are trying to reduce total cholesterol intake. Seafoods are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are good for the heart and also help reduce inflammation. Use traditional tamarind extract as a flavoring agent to reduce sodium content instead of instant sinigang mixes because these mixes are high in sodium.
2. Pork Sinigang. Pork sinigang can be made from pork ribs or lean pork meat with gabi and a souring agent of choice. Gabi helps make the soup thicker which complements the flavor of pork. It can also be made with talbos ng kamote instead of kangkong which can give it a slightly red color if the red kamote tops was used. Adding kamote tops also adds an additional Vitamin A and C to the dish which are good for the skin, eyes and immune system. For those trying to reduce their cholesterol or fat intake, choose lean pork or trim off the pork fat before cooking and spoon out the excess oil on top of the broth while cooking.
3. Beef Sinigang. Beef sinigang can be made with beef bone-in short ribs or brisket or lean beef cuts. Aside from tamarind, tomatoes can also be added as a souring agent. Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin C and lycopene which are good for the skin, immunity and the heart. This dish is also a good option for those with pork restrictions or for those trying to reduce their fat or cholesterol intake by cooling down the broth and removing the excess fat that floats on top of the broth.
4. Chicken Sinigang. Chicken was not traditionally used for sinigang because a sour chicken dish is called Sinampalukang manok. Now Filipinos have developed Sinigang na Manok for those looking for an affordable sinigang dish. Chicken has lesser fat and cholesterol content - which makes it a good for hypertensive individuals. It can also be prepared with gabi, kangkong leaves, sitaw, labanos and kamatis for an added nutritional value for those trying to increase their vegetable intake.
Regardless of the variation you choose, a Sinigang Dish is considered a filling and healthy meal that combines both protein and vegetables in one dish that your family will surely love. So what is your favorite sinigang variation?
Barretto, G.R., Calalang, C., Fores, M., Segismundo, M., Sincioco, J. & Tayag, C. (2008). Kulinarya A Guide to Philippine Cuisine. Anvil Publishing, Inc.