If you are familiar with the Thai soup tom yum, then sinigang is a dish whose taste is not difficult to imagine. It is a clear broth with a souring agent—usually green tamarind, guava, kamias/kalamias or calamansi—a citrus that looks like key lime but a bit smaller, the taste of which is a cross between lemon and lime.
The basic ingredients for fish sinigang are these: lemon grass, ginger (just enough to give a hint of a taste), tomato (just one—the soup should not be red), onion and a long green chilli. For the vegetables, any or a combination of: string beans, okra, aubergine, spinach, sweet potato leaves, kangkong (water spinach), malunggay (moringa). The fish should be white fish and not the mackerel variety. Sinigang can also be made with prawn or pork, but I think there’s a small variation in the ingredients.
For this particular meal, these were my ingredients and proportions:
1 stem lemon grass (sliced lengthwise)
1 inch ginger (thinly sliced)
1 tomato (quartered or smaller)
½ red onion (julienned)
1 long, green chilli (whole)
2 cups water
1 medium-size sea bream (whole or cut into large pieces)
1 handful of green beans (cut in half)
1 tbsp instant tamarind mix (in your nearest Asian store there’s one with the known brand K__rr)
2 handfuls of spinach
1. In a pot, boil lemon grass, ginger, tomato, onion and chilli in 2 cups water.
2. When the onion does not smell raw anymore, add the fish.
3. Once the fish cooks, remove and set aside.
4. Add the green beans in the pot. When cooked….
5. Add the souring agent and mix to dissolve.
6. Then add the spinach to wilt.
7. Serve in a bowl and add the fish.
I loved this but next time for the souring agent I will experiment on the lemon-lime combination just so everything in my broth is natural (I actually tried rhubarb before and it worked, although the soup was a bit cloudy).
Post note: Although the instant tamarind mix already has salt in it, I still added a pinch of sea salt and a swish of Thai/fish sauce to the broth. This is optional, of course.