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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.

3 lbs of country style pork ribs
1 small daikon radish
1-2 chinese eggplants
1 small bunch of chinese long beans
1 small yellow onion
4-5 tomatoes
1 bunch of spinach
1 lemon
calrose rice
fish sauce

1. Rinse the calrose rice, saving the water from the first couple of rinses.
2. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove following the instructions on the package.
3. Pour the rice water into the Instant Pot.
4. Chop the pork, daikon, eggplants, long beans, onions, and tomatoes into 2-inch pieces and add to Instant Pot.
5. Add 1 Tbsp of fish sauce to the Instant Pot.
6. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper to Instant Pot.
7. Close Instant Pot and set to either slow cook for about 5 hours, or pressure cook for about 15 minutes.
8. When finished cooking, adjust fish sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.
9. Add the juice of the lemon.
10. Add the spinach to the top and close the lid for a few mintues to allow spinach to soften.
11. Serve and enjoy with rice!

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