Sinigang, heavy on the ginger

This is a submission to the Kulinarya Cooking Club July 2011 challenge. The theme, “Sinigang” was chosen by Trissa of Trissalicious and Trisha of Sugarlace. For more information, visit the Kulinarya Cooking Club blog.
By the time this post posts I’ll be on my way to Zamboanga City, Philippines, for some family time.  It seems fitting, then, to begin blogging again with a Kulinarya Cooking Club challenge.   Especially with such a scrumptios theme.

A bowl of yummy on a rainy Friday evening

For a while there, soup was just not going to happen in the Kensington Kitchen.  No way.  No how.

When I woke up to a legitimately chilly breeze and grey overcast sky on Friday morning, though, my thoughts drifted towards this month’s Kulinarya challenge: sinigang.

Bok choy stalks are almost like celery in taste and texture - and they smell awesome while sautéing

Sinigang is yet another of those foods I neglected to learn the name of when I was a kid.  I ate it happily and  referred to it vaguely as “that soup with bok choy.”  The association between the two things – bok choy and soup – is strong.  The first time I saw bok choy at a farmers’ market in New Mexico I bought a whole pound for soup – sinigang, as it turns out.

That was the first and last time I made sinigang in the last eight years.

Fish chopped into bite-size pieces.

This week, I called my mom for a refresher course.  We went through the list of ingredients: pork or fish (essential), bok choy (essential), tomatoes (optional), ginger (essential), tamarind (optional), green onions or scallions (essential).

One of my favorite things about “bok choy soup” is that it’s a delicious meal filled with veggies that could easily fit into even a Food Stamps budget (I wish I’d remembered to make it when I was on the government dole).  I made a special run to the Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown on the way home from work on Friday, spent $8 and got enough food to make sinigang for 10 people.

Bringing the broth and firm veggies to a boil before adding fish always them to soften slighty

I went with mom’s deluxe version – fish, bok choy, tomatoes, ginger, green onions, tamarind, sea salt – and added some dried mushrooms and soy sauce to round out the broth.  The ginger is what makes the dish sing.  For me it hit home on a rainy night – I inhaled two bowls with rice.  Raphe proclaimed the broth “too fishy” and stopped after one.

Oh, well.  More for me.

Colorful and healthy with a final dollop of tamarind paste


Serves 4-6 over rice

Ingredients Local sources
1/2 lb. white fish Hong Kong Supermarket
3 medium bok choy Hong Kong Supermarket
2 plum tomatoes Hong Kong Supermarket
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped C-town
1 4-5inch ginger root, coarsely chopped Himalayan Grocery on Cortelyou
3 scallion stalks, diced Hong Kong Supermarket
2 dried mushrooms New York Mart on Avenue U
Tamarind paste/concentrate to taste (I used 2 T) Hong Kong Supermarket
Sea salt to taste Trader Joe’s
Soy sauce to taste New York Mart on Avenue U
  1. Wash bok choy very well. Separate  stems and leaves. Chop both stems and leaves coarsely, but keep separated.
  2. Briefly sauté garlic, ginger and bok choy stems in oil.
  3. Add about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat.  Add fish, tomatoes and bok choy leaves.  Simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat.  Add half the  scallions then soy sauce, salt and tamarind concentrate to taste.
  6. Serve over steamed rice. garnish with remaining scallions.

7 responses

  1. Love the crunch of Bok Choy and its versatility to adapt to any dish, like sinigang. Ginger is actualy almost neccessary for a fish dish because it somehow balances the fish flavor. Good job!

    ~ ray ~

  2. Pingback: 2011 in the Kensington Kitchen | Kensington Kitchen

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