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How to make the popular Filipino sour soup: ‘Seafood Sinigang’

Seafood Sinigang sa Sampalok (Seafood with tamarind-based sour broth) | Monica Eng/For the Sun-Times

Seafood Sinigang sa Sampalok (Seafood with tamarind-based sour broth) | Monica Eng/For the Sun-Times

Sinigang is a popular sour soup that gets it tang from the tamarind fruit.

Sometimes made with pork ribs, this seafood version can be cooked using sinigang vegetable packets, readily available in the produce section of Filipino groceries or by buying each ingredient separately. Similarly, the spices for the dish become much easier when home cooks start with the many sinigang spice packets available in the spice aisle.

Seafood Sinigang sa Sampalok

(Seafood with tamarind-based sour broth)

Source: Filipino Kitchen

Serves 4-6 persons

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Here’s what you’ll need to prepare before you start cooking:

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1 thumb of ginger, julienned
  • 1 bunch string beans, cut into 3rds
  • ½ lb. baby bok choy, halved or quartered lengthwise
  • 1 medium size daikon radish, sliced into diagonal rounds
  • 3 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 stalk leeks, whites to light green part sliced
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 1 banana pepper, whole
  • 1 packet of Mama Sita’s Sinigang Sampalok Mix OR 1 16oz. Tamarind Paste
  • 2-4 salmon heads
  • 1 lb. head-on shrimps (20-30 count), cleaned and shells on
  • 6-8 cups of water (depending how big your stock pot)
  • Patis (fish sauce, lots of umami and salty flavor)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Now, it’s time to cook:

  1.  In a stock pot on medium-low heat, drizzle vegetable oil, then sauté garlic, onion, and ginger until the onion turns translucent. Make sure to keep on stirring, to avoid the garlic from burning.
  2. Add the tomatoes, daikon radish, and water to cover, bring it to a simmer.
  3. Add tamarind paste or packet.
  4. Add the string beans, leeks, lemon. Stir to make sure everything is incorporated. Let it simmer for 5-10 mins. Make sure to season your dish as you go with salt, pepper and patis.
  5. Add the eggplant, baby bok choy and banana pepper. Bring the heat up to medium.
  6. Add the salmon heads and a few minutes later, the shrimps. You will know it is cooked when the shrimp turns orange.
  7. Serve with steamed white or brown rice.


  • You can substitute coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.
  • Small jicama sliced into strips can be substituted for daikon.
  • If packet tamarind, or paste, or concentrate is not available – add more lemons and leeks to achieve the sourness desired, or rhubarb when it is in season.
  • You can substitute tofu and mushrooms to make it a vegan dish.

Hungry for Home shopping cartMonica Eng is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her at @monicaeng or write to her at meng@wbez.org

This story is a part of the Chicago Sun-Times-WBEZ Worldview “Hungry For Home” series, which helps newbies navigate the many international groceries in the Chicago area. Learn how to shop at local Filipino grocery stores at WBEZ.


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