The Tangy Tamarind Stew That Satisfies My Filipinx Food Cravings

updated Feb 5, 2021
Shrimp and Fish Sinigang  (Tamarind Stew)

A tamarind-based stew with shrimp, fish, and vegetables.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Neal Santos; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Sinigang is a tamarind-based stew that really showcases the Flipinx love of sour. As a child, we ate sinigang with unpeeled shrimp, whole fish (head included), and tons of vegetables — my favorite bites were ones with tomatoes, baby bok choy, and pieces of daikon radish that would soak up all the broth. To this day, shrimp cooked in sinigang broth is one of my favorite ways to eat shrimp.

I wrote this recipe based on how my family made it, which is also my favorite way to enjoy it (although I do leave out the whole fish and use tilapia fillets instead). I do still use unpeeled shrimp — I think the shrimp shells add an extra layer of flavor to the broth — but if you feel like peeling them first, that’s OK too.

Credit: Photo: Neal Santos; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

A Shortcut to Faster Sinigang

Very similar to the Indian dish rasam, sinigang requires simmering tamarind bulbs and/or tamarind concentrate in water then straining out the pulp. What’s left is a delicious tangy broth base used to build the stew. If you have the time, I highly recommend you do it this way, but honestly I never even had it prepared that way until I was an adult.

When I was growing up, my family ate sinigang often at my dad’s house, but we never made it from tamarind paste — I thought the only way to make sinigang was from the pre-made seasoning packet you can buy in the Asian food market. Brands like Knorr or Mamasita are popular household names and they make it easy to have sinigang on a weeknight. After you cook the aromatics and the tomatoes, add the packet and the water, bring to a boil, cook all your vegetables and seafood in the broth, then serve with cooked rice. I love the broth so much, I always used to go back for seconds of more broth on rice. It’s a comforting feeling to this day.

Shrimp and Fish Sinigang (Tamarind Stew)

A tamarind-based stew with shrimp, fish, and vegetables.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    medium jalapeño pepper

  • 4 ounces

    green beans

  • 2 bunches

    Shanghai bok choy (about 6 ounces total)

  • 1/2

    large daikon radish (about 8 ounces)

  • 4

    small beefsteak or vine tomatoes

  • 8 ounces

    tilapia fillets

  • 8 ounces

    shell-on uncooked large shrimp (16 to 20 per pound)

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1 (40 grams) packet

    Sinigang sa Sampalok (tamarind stew mix)

  • 4 cups

    water

  • Cooked rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion and 4 garlic cloves. Trim the stem and seeds from 1 medium jalapeño, then finely chop. Trim 4 ounces green beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Trim the stems from 2 bunches Shanghai baby bok choy and separate the stalks. Peel and cut 1/2 daikon radish into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups). Quarter 4 small tomatoes through the stems into wedges. Cut 8 ounces tilapia into 1-inch pieces. Devein 8 ounces shrimp but leave the shells intact.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomato, and cook until mostly broken down, about 8 minutes.

  3. Add 1 sinigang seasoning packet and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and daikon, and simmer until daikon starts to soften and the green beans are partially cooked, about 6 minutes. Add the tilapia and shrimp and simmer until halfway cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add the bok choy and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve with rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Amelia Rampe’s Weeknight Filipinx Guide

This recipe is part of our weeknight Filipinx cooking guide, designed to bring the diverse cuisine of the Philippines into your kitchen. Head to the intro piece to read more from Amelia, and check out all of the recipes below.

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3 / 5
Shrimp and Fish Sinigang (Tamarind Stew)
Sinigang is a tamarind-based stew that really showcases the Flipinx love of sour. I love the broth so much, I always used to go back for seconds of more broth on rice. It’s a comforting feeling to this day.
Go to Recipe
4 / 5
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Bistek
In the Philippines, we love the taste of sour, and bistek is the ultimate celebration of that flavor profile. It’s beef marinated in calamansi juice (or citrus juice, if you can’t find calamansi), soy sauce, chopped garlic, thick sliced onions, and bay leaves, and it really packs a punch.
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Credit: Kitchn