It’s rainy season in the Philippines. Although this would mean bad news to many Filipinos and tourists alike, due to the flooding, thunderstorm and typhoon (name of cyclone in the pacific) that it brings, it is also a season for some good things. The sky will be cloudy, shielding everyone from the burning heat of the sun and the surrounding temperature will be cool and comfortable with a fine soft breeze. The rains will drench the drying lands and farms and will trigger the start of the rice (the Philippines’ staple food) planting season. An abundance of healthy and freshly harvested native vegetables, freshwater fish and other exotic catches will soon be seen lined-up at the local market. It is such an awesome scene for me.
Most importantly wild mushrooms like our family’s favorite “mamarang” will start sprouting in the farms, forest, woods and sometimes even on gardens, backyards and lawns in the rural areas and countryside. And this too will soon end up in the market or better yet directly in front of our gate courtesy of our friendly farmer neighbors who have particular knowledge of our huge …… okay make that very enormous and incessant ……… appetite for the truly delicious but extremely rare vegetables. :-)
In line with the cool weather that is now prevailing in the country (with occasional “uncool” typhoons of course) the even cooler group called Kulinarya ruled its theme dish for the wet month of July to be soupy, soothing and goodie ……… and what Filipino dish could better represent those than the mighty “sinigang”. Aside from “adobo”, “sinigang” is probably (just probably) the most featured Filipino dish by any Kulinarya member or any Filipino food blogger for that matter. I for one have already four (4) different posts of the sourly dish and yet I am not even a fan.
Among my “sinigang na tuna”, “sinigang na baboy”, “sinigang na baka” and not so long ago “sinigang sa buko”, I am deeply biased with the latter. Not only because it was fun, excitingly unique and adventurous but because it had a sweetish hint that really delighted my taste buds. If only I made the dish last year, I would re-do it for this month’s Kulinarya challenge. :-)
Since “sinigang” is a very common dish in the Philippines and probably millions of Filipinos already know how to prepare one, I decided to pay extra attention on the choice of the main ingredient. I thought that in order to make a stimulating “sinigang” worthy of the Kulinarya attention (oh that’s beautiful), I resolved to using a red “lapu-lapu”. :-)
No, this is not cheating …… lol. If you are given a choice between “talakitok” (trevally), “galunggong” (mackerel scad), “tulingan” (frigate tuna) and “lapu-lapu” (grouper) at basically the same unit price (here in southern Sri Lanka), what would you take? See …… I guess we are now in agreement. :-)
If you are still in doubt of the “lapu-lapu” that I am referring, here is the stunning ……… gorgeous ……… delicious ……… and most importantly ……… affordable ……… okay, make that cheap ……… as in budget-friendly ……… “sinigang” candidate! :)
For the dish, I thoroughly cleaned, scaled, gutted, washed, drained and cut-up to serving sizes the more than 1 kilogram very fresh “lapu-lapu”. I seasoned the fish slices with about a teaspoon salt.
The other ingredients needed are as follows: about 6 cups of rice washing or plain water, 2 medium onion, quartered, 4 pcs plum tomatoes, to be quartered, 1 medium daikon raddish, pelled and sliced diagonally, ¼ large cabbage or better yet 2 bunches bok choy (“pechay”) if you have, a handful long beans, cut to 2 inches length, 2 pcs cubanelle chilies, 3 pcs whole green finger chilies, 1 small piece ginger, peeled and cut to matchstick, 1 tsp salt or to taste and of course, 1 sachet “sinigang-mix” seasoning in tamarind, the Filipinos gateway to a tasty everyday “sinigang”. :)
The use of rice washing or “hugas bigas”, preferably the second wash, is the traditional way of cooking the dish that many consider is the secret to a fine tasting “sinigang”. If you have no problem with it, by all means live the tradition. :)
Fill a casserole with about 5 cups rice washing (or water). On high heat let it boil. Add in onions and tomatoes and simmer on medium heat until the tomatoes are a little mushy.
Add in radish and long beans and continue simmering. After a minute or two, add in “lapu-lapu” pieces and continue cooking. Once the liquid again boils, season it with salt. Continue simmering until the fish is just cooked through.
Add in chilies followed by the cabbage. Put the lid back on and cook for a minute more. Uncover and add in “sinigang-mix” seasoning. Let it boil once more and continue cooking until everything is fully cooked through.
Transfer in a wide serving bowl and serve piping hot alongside lots of steamed rice. Some fish sauce + calamansi + chili dipping sauce will surely add an extra kick. It’s very delicious of course, it’s “lapu-lapu” in the first place. Who will go wrong with it? :-)
There it is, my foolproof “sinigang na lapu-lapu”. This is especially done for the Kulinarya Challenge for the month of July. Hope you’ll enjoy this post along with the many “sinigang” variants the other members are sharing with everyone. Check them all please! Ciao! c“,)