Growing up with a Filipino father and Spanish mother, our dinner table was always adorned with dishes specific to their heritage. A weekly staple was sinigang.
This sour soup, popular in Philippine cuisine, was a cure-all in my household. From colds to hangovers, sinigang was the remedy – and a tasty one at that. It’s most commonly made with pork, though shrimp and fish can be used, along with cabbage and spinach.
The sour taste is brought on by a tamarind soup base mix, better known as sinigang mix. Lemon juice can also be used. Sure, you could make it with fresh tamarind, but the packets are just easier. Even my Filipino family uses them.
This soup is deliciously sour. And, if you want to add some spiciness, throw in half of a fresh jalapeño.
Fresh green beans, asparagus or bok choy can also be added. It’s really chef’s choice, so make it your own.
From Audrey Alfaro
1 1/2 pounds pork spare ribs or country ribs
2 quarts water
2 packets of tamarind soup mix, such as Knorr, or 2 cups lemon juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 whole tomato
1/2 medium onion
4 cups of cabbage, quartered
3 cups of fresh spinach
Slice spare ribs, or cut country ribs into 1-inch chunks. Add water to pot. Then add pork, 1 packet tamarind mix or lemon juice, then the additional packet to taste along with fish sauce, tomato and onion. Bring to boil over medium high heat, then reduce to simmer for 45 minutes, or until pork is tender and flaky.
Add in cabbage and cook for 10-15 minutes more. Turn off heat, stir in spinach and let sit 3-5 minutes. Serve alone or over steamed rice.
Note: Tamarind soup base mix can be found in the international section of the grocery store, or at any specialty Asian market.
Audrey Alfaro is a wife, mother and self-described “foul-mouthed chef” who loves horror flicks, fried chicken and vodka. Not together, but just in general. She was a contestant on Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship” and writes her Spoon & Swallow food blog at www.spoonandswallow.com.