So on my first attempt to cook Sinigang/Tamarind Soup, I was clueless. I threw all the ingredients in a pot, simmered the soup until the meat was tender and voila! I’m the best cook ever! Right.
Little did I know that I had been missing out on the flavors that each ingredient gives to this savory, sour, delicious soup. Although, my previous recipe for Sinigang found here can still be used in a pinch, the Tamarind Soup recipe that I’m featuring in this post is a crowd pleaser.
Since embarking on this Filipino Food journey, I’ve realized that it takes a village to cook good Filipino food specially if you’re a beginner like I am. Example: My Clueless Tamarind Soup vs. Tamarind Soup recipe as taught by my niece. Thanks Cristia!
Sinigang is a Filipino term for a sour/tart and savory soup cooked with vegetables and meat or fish although pork and fish are the most commonly used. There are different versions of “Sinigang” that use other vegetables/fruits that make the soup tart/sour but Tamarind or in Filipino “Sampalok” is the most popular.
I remember when I was a child growing up in the Philippines, raw tamarind picked from our backyard was boiled and strained to flavor the soup. Nowadays, a Tamarind flavor packet is preferred by most Filipino households since it is less time consuming. Tamarind flavor packets or Sampalok Mix from the Philippines are usually available in any Asian grocery store in the US.
One of the main ingredients of Sinigang/Tamarind Soup is a root vegetable called “Gabi” pronounced as “gah-bee”. It has a mild flavor and the texture is similar to a dense potato when cooked. I am excited and grateful that this root crop is now being sold at non-Asian grocery stores with various names such as Eddo/Eddoe Taro or Malanga.
I also mention “water spinach” or “Kangkong” on the ingredient list below. It is a leafy vegetable commonly used for Sinigang/Tamarind Soup but rarely sold in small US city – Asian grocery stores so I use regular spinach or arugula instead.
- Using too much of the Tamarind Flavor will make the soup too sour/tart
- Use salt as a substitute for Fish Sauce if you prefer
- Do not pour fish sauce from the bottle, always use a tablespoon or ladle
- Green Chili Peppers may be added, just remember the longer peppers cook the hotter they get!