After being on the road a few days, I came home to vegetables in my refrigerator bin which needed my attention. I also was longing for a home cooked meal with lots of rice. A quick peek at what I had before me and I knew instantly that we could have “Sinigang na Karne” or beef sinigang (say “see-nee-gangh”) for dinner.
Before I left for my road trip, days ago, I already simmered some tamarind broth and slow cooked chunks of beef ribs in it. Softening beef over low heat was a technique I learned from my mom long ago. From past blog posts, I’ve mentioned that beef was an expensive ingredient in the small town I grew up in back in the Philippines. So I was not allowed to mess up cooking beef. From the start, I followed mom’s cooking instructions carefully and did what she advised, to this day. Also, cooking beef ahead in a slow simmer gave me the chance to save time by cooking in stages.
So late yesterday afternoon, as soon as we drove into our driveway, I jumped out of the car and took out from the refrigerator the large container of sinigang or tamarind broth with the softened beef short ribs. I took out my large soup pot, poured in the beef and sinigang-tamarind broth and started to heat it up. As the translucent soup stock came to life and the bubbles started to jump briskly all over, I felt comforted by the tangy tamarind aromas. Pre-boiling the beef days ahead meant my cooking was nearly done this minute. I tossed in the sliced vegetables at the end giving the crunchy slices just enough time to stew and absorb the citrus-like tangy tamarind and lemon flavors.
When we sat down to dinner, the piping hot slew of sinigang beef and vegetables, flavored with a tinge of ‘patis’ or fish sauce was served with a bowl of hot steaming jasmine rice.
What a meal to come home to!
Sinigang is the classic Philippine soup meal that is flavored with tamarinds making it tart, sour, savory and salty all at the same time. It is a mélange of meats, vegetables and even seafoods. This is an all-season versatile dish that is best eaten with rice. The souring agents come from backyard fruits and vegetables like tamarinds, kamias or guavas in the Philippines. Here in America, I used a tamarind concentrate and added green mangoes and lemon slices to make the soup broth so tangy and sour, my face puckered up after tasting the soup stew. This recipe was adapted from a previous post on this site and serves 4.
- rice wash (hugas bigas) or homemade soup stock - 8 cups, for broth (or use plain water)
- tamarind concentrate - 1 inch, from a block of tamarind solid pulp (from Asian markets), see past blog post on Shrimp Sinigang
- onion - 1 large, sliced
- tomatoes - 2 large, sliced
- fresh lemon slices - from 1 whole lemon, washed, seeded, include rind
- green, unripe mango - 1 whole, peeled, pitted, sliced in 2-inch strips
- beef short ribs - 2 pounds
- white radish or daikon - 1 piece, peeled, sliced (from Asian markets)
- Asian eggplant - 2 pieces, sliced (from Asian markets) or use aubergines, about 2 cups if sliced
- sitaw, yard long green beans - 2 cups sliced in 2-inch long pieces (from Asian markets) or use regular green beans
- fresh spinach or kangkong (water spinach) - 3 cups, stems trimmed (water spinach is found in Asian markets)
- patis or fish sauce - 2 Tablespoons, divided, use 1 Tablespoon for broth, rest for dipping sauce on side
- sea salt - 1 teaspoon
- freshly ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- fresh shrimps - 1/4 pound, peeled, deveined, leave tails intact (optional)
- large jalapeno chiles ( - 1-2 large pieces (optional)
- boiled jasmine white rice - for serving
- In a large stockpot, over medium heat, bring to a boil the water or rice wash (‘hugas bigas’ as Filipinos call it), onion, tomatoes, patis (fish sauce), lemon slices, green mango and tamarind concentrate pre-softened in hot water. Allow this mixture to come to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer for about 20 minutes. This makes the broth all sour and tangy-flavored.
- Add the beef short ribs. Cover and cook over a slow simmer for 60 minutes till the beef softens or falls off the bone.
- When the beef chunks have cooked and are tender enough, add the shrimps, radish, eggplants and sitaw (long green beans) and large jalapeno chiles or 'sili' (optional). Cook for 10 to 12 minutes more till vegetables soften.
- Add the kangkong (water spinach or use fresh regular spinach) and cook for 5 minutes more. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook 5 minutes more. Serve hot with boiled jasmine white rice and a side dipping of patis or fish sauce.
- Cook’s comments: some folks like to add 1 large piece of green jalapeno chili (sili to Filipinos) to their sinigang. It adds a zesty spice to the already sour flavored broth. Feel free to do so if this is your personal preference. When I add chiles, I make sure to remove it the day after so that it does not get too spicy for the family.
- Recipe notes: In the Philippines, the original sinigang uses green unripe tamarinds for souring. These are abundant in trees grown in backyards or commonly found in markets. The unripe, firm tamarinds are boiled in water to soften, then mashed so the pulp can be added to the soup broth.
- Video on how to make the tamarind broth is on a previous blog post of Shrimp Sinigang. See it here.
- Hello, Friends! All the images and content here are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to use my photos or content on your website without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you.