Pork sinigang is my favorite filipino dish because not only it is delicious but it is also easy to cook. If you know how to boil water, you can cook sinigang, because it is basically that- boiling meat and vegetables. Sinigang loosely translated in English means pork boiled in tamarind broth, but sinigang is not exclusively pork and tamarind; there is a fish sinigang, and sinigang na hipon ( prawn sinigang), there are also sinigang using other tart fruits like Santol or Bayabas (guava) and even young tamarind leaves used in sinigang sa dahon ng sampalok usually done with chicken.
When I was young, sinigang was done using raw tamarind fruit. It is boiled together with the pork; when the tamarind gets soft or tender, it is fished out of the soup, I was assigned the task of mashing the tamarind with some water before it is strained back into the soup. You really have to put a lot of tamarind just to be sure that you have enough to make the broth tart but fortunately we now have sinigang mixes available in the market even in other countries through asian food store so Filipinos working there won’t miss it.
As much as I love this dish though, I don’t cook it as often as I used to because I can’t stop myself from eating too much of it. I can eat 4-5 cups of rice with this, no kidding.. there was that one time, I ate too much that I got bloated, I can hardly breathe, I don’t know what came into me, I just can’t get enough of the pork fat and kangkong in it.
Before, I used to deliberately add lots of fat when making pork sinigang and cook it to almost “melt- in-your- mouth- tender” ( I think the term in Filipino is “sinuso”) then I add plently of green chili peppers and kangkong leaves…yumm!
But, as much as I like that a lot, I don’t want to encourage anyone to do the same, in fact I switched back to a normal sinigang recipe, my husband and I are in our 30’s, very healthy and fit (Thank God) and wants to stay that way for our kids. So what I’m posting here is my sensible but still yummy sinigang with a reasonable amount of fat and lots of veggies.
1 kilo or 2 lbs pork liempo (pork belly), cut into big chunks or cubes
2-3 medium tomatoes, quartered
1-2 big red onion, quartered
4-5 medium gabi root, cut into cubes
6-8 (or more) green chili peppers
1 -2 large sinigang mix (2 liter pack)
1/2 kilo okra
3 -4 cups kangkong leaves
1 bunch sitaw* (string beans)
patis (fish sauce) to taste
note: Typically sinigang uses buto-buto ( the cut of meat with bones for making soup stocks), you may use that. Use less okra if you’re adding sitaw, we don’t like string beans so I don’t always add it. you may also add radish if you like, which I don’t so you won’t see any in this recipe.
Wash the pork thoroughly and put it in a big pot, fill it with 2 quarts water, bring to a boil in a high heat. Skim the scum (dirty froth) that might float on top just before it boils, watch it because if you miss that moment, it’ll disintegrate and it will end up floating in your soup like “cobwebs”… not good. After skimming the scum off add in the gabi, tomatoes and onion and half the amount of green chili that you’re using. Season with patis (fish sauce). Bring to a boil again then lower heat to “gentle boil” or simmer. If you have a pressure cooker, use it to shorten cooking time. When meat is a little tender, add one large packet of sinigang mix, then boil some more until the meat is fork-tender. Add the okra and the rest of the green chili peppers. Cook for five minutes, then add in the kangkong leaves, and the last packet of sinigang mix, don’t add it all at once, have a taste again, add a little or the whole pack depending on how tart you want it. Bring to boil and cook for another five minutes more or depending on how you want your veggies, al dente or mushy. Taste it, adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with steamed rice and unbuckle your belts.
note: don’t throw away the leftover soup, you can heat it next time, strain it and serve alongside your next meal. You can keep left-overs for 1 day, reheat to boiling before serving.