Cookbook:Sinigang (Philippine Sour Soup)

Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Cuisine of the Philippines

Sinigang – the famous sour soup of the Philippines, is a fruity sour-based soup is boiled with either pork, beef, chicken, fish or seafood.

Sinigang doesn't have much rules in selecting vegetables, but Onions and tomatoes must be included in Sinigang. Also, root vegetables are not recommended in making Sinigang, with taro root as an exemption.

Using any fruity souring agent to be used as soup base, it was cooked with slightly fatty meat like pork belly to counter the power of sour flavor, thus creating balance between sour and savory taste. Tomatoes naturally has umami taste, giving the soup with more enhanced, pleasing yet awakening flavor.

Vegetables were added to enhance the meaty flavor. All vegetables, except starchy ones were included in Sinigang. The only starchy vegetable added is Taro root, giving a pleasant thickness in soup. Okra also gives the soup pleasant thickness in Sinigang, but this is more clear or transparent, than Taro root that gives milky and starchy appearance.

Onions are considered as vegetable in this soup, giving sweet hint to the flavor.

Tamarind was the most common for souring agent, but there are some varieties including: -Unripe Mangoes -Calamansi Juice -Unripe Watermelon -Star Fruit -Kamias -Cane Vinegar -Sour Citrus Juices -Guava -Miso

Semi-hot chillies were added after the soup was fully cooked, releasing some sweet-spicy aroma, making the soup described as warm and aromatic.

Sinigang was often compared to Tom Yam of Thailand, but Sinigang is more sweeter and lighter in spice, contrast to strong flavor of Thai variety.

Some critics says that Sinigang should be considered as national food of the Philippines, since it was produced locally. Also, many people criticized Adobo to be considered as national food due to its Hispanic history, influence and appearance. Sinigang was favored by most food historians because the soup uses plenty of local ingredients, rather that Adobo that gained popularity due to easy access and affordability.


  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1-3 Onions, quartered (for boiling)
  • 4-6 tomatoes (quartered)
  • ½-1kilo pork belly (cubed)
  • 200g String beans, chopped in inch slices
  • 250g kangkung (water spinach) leaves or other leafy yet crunchy vegetable even when cooked.
  • 3-4 horseradish (sliced)
  • 3 Green chiles Serrano or any very fragrant variety. (Semi-hot chili is a must, not burning hot)
  • Sampaloc fruits (tamarind) (or Ready to use Tamarind Pack)
  • 5 Tbs fish sauce
  • 250g taro root, diced or sliced into chunks.
  • water, enough to cover all ingredients in pot
  • Salt and Pepper
  • MSG, optional


  1. Boil tamarind until shells crack, then work the flesh away from the seeds and strain, reserving all the liquid for the soup. (Skip this process if packed tamarind base is to be used).
  2. Sauté onions in another large pot. Reserve some onions for boiling.
  3. Add the tomato, and pork, and saute until Pork is no more pink in color.
  4. Add water or boiled tamarind stock. Boil until tender.
  5. Add Taro root. Simmer until soft and tender. The soup is starting to thicken in this moment.
  6. Add the horseradish and simmer until tender-crunchy.
  7. Add the rest of the vegetables, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  8. If you aren't using boiled tamarind stock, just check if all ingredients were cooked enough, then add tamarind pack.
  9. Add fish sauce, salt, pepper and MSG to taste. Top with green chillies.

Serve hot.