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Sinigang: a flavorful soup seasoned with lemon and fish sauce
When I was a kid, my parents sometimes dropped us off at this old Filipino couple's house to be babysat. We called them Lolo and Lola, Tagalog for Grandpa and Grandma. Normally I didn't like being away from my mom and dad in the evenings. But I remember being pretty okay with Lolo and Lola. I knew they would serve me sinigang, my favorite Filipino dish.
Now, whenever I think of sinigang, I still remember Lolo and Lola sitting across the table with a white vinyl faux lace table cloth. They would spoon some tasty soup onto their sticky white rice, along with some meat and vegetables. Then they would take their forks and use it to push the food onto their spoons and enjoy the scrumptious spoonful of sinigang.
It is a warm, comforting food, especially good on cold winter and fall evenings. But so delicious, it can be enjoyed any time of the year. You can use any kind of meat in the soup. Many Filipinos like it with fish, but my favorite is with country style pork ribs. I also like it with lots of different veggies to give it well-rounded flavor and texture.
My favorite veggie to add to this soup is Chinese eggplant. Chinese eggplant is unlike any other eggplant. The meat of it is not as mushy as other eggplants. It is also less slimey, and the purple skin has a less bitter taste. To me, it is superior to all other eggplants in every way.
The veggies I put in sinigang come in all colors of the rainbow. There is white daikon, red tomatoes, yellow onions, green spinach, purple eggplant, and blue diamonds! (oops the blue diamonds might have been from Lucky Charms cereal). But you can always add whatever veggies you like. I also add Chinese long beans. They are like green beans, but much more special. They are skinnier, about a foot long, and are less watery and more "meaty". I chop them into 2-inch pieces, and they go really well in soups and stir fries.
The broth is a little starchy, made from the starch washes of sticky rice. The soup is seasoned with fish sauce, lemon juice (or some people use tamarind soup base), salt, and pepper. I actually got my recipe from a Filipino lady I used to buy food from. She created a cookbook called Philippine Recipes Made Easy. And they really are pretty easy.
Sinigang can me simmered in a pot on the stove for an hour or so to get the meat tender and all the flavors to come up. But my favorite way to make it is in the Instant Pot. This is a great pressure cooker, slow cooker, saute pan, and more. You can pressure cook the Sinigang soup in 15 minutes or slow cook it over a few hours. You get tender meat and all the lovely flavor melding either way.
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