Fish Sinigang


Preparation info

  • Serves


Appears in

Memories of Philippine Kitchens

Memories of Philippine Kitchens

By Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan

Published 2006

  • About

Doreen Fernandez considered sinigang the quintessential Filipino dish because it makes good use of the sour fruits that grow in the Philippines. I grew up eating pork and beef sinigang and was never too particular about the fish version until Romy came up with the idea of making a dry crust and pan-frying the fish fillets.


  • Two 2-pound red snappers, cleaned and cut into 4 fillets (skin-on), head, tail, and bones reserved

Fish Stock

  • Heads, tails, and bones from snapper
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large pieces
  • 3 leeks, green parts only, cut into large pieces
  • 10 fresh tamarind pods or 2 ounces packaged tamarind pulp (not concentrate) soaked in 1 cup water
  • 5 medium-ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 radishes, quartered
  • 1 leek, white part only, sliced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 fresh green or red chile, sliced
  • ¼ cup fish sauce, or to taste
  • Kalamansi lime or lemon juice, to taste, if needed


  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 radishes, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fine cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 bunches baby bok choy, cut into large pieces


  1. For the stock, in a large pot over high heat, combine the fish heads, tails, and bones with the carrot, leek greens, tamarind pods or packaged pulp, medium-ripe tomatoes, and 10 cups water (9 cups if you’re using the packaged tamarind pulp). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Skim the foam until the stock becomes clear. Strain. You can prepare the stock a day ahead, refrigerate, and reheat before serving.
  2. Before serving, add the radishes, leek, seeded ripe tomatoes, and chile to the stock and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the fish sauce. Taste and add lime juice and more fish sauce if needed.
  3. For the fish, preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub ½ tablespoon mustard over the flesh side of each fillet to evenly coat. Combine the chopped leeks and radishes and press into the mustard in a thin layer. Sprinkle about ½ teaspoon cornmeal over each fillet. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in each of two large ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the fillets, skin side up, for about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Flip the fillets and place in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the fillets are cooked through and the crust is lightly browned and crisp.
  4. Divide the bok choy among 4 deep, wide serving bowls. Add about 1½ cups steaming-hot stock (reserving any extra for later use), and place a fish fillet on top. Serve with additional fish sauce and lime juice on the side.