We needed a good, wholesome easy home cooked meal quickly. So, this Sinigang na Pompano with Tamarind and Lemongrass was perfect for dinner. My family loves the freshness of fish and sea foods when I cook what was purchased the same day. The pompano fish is popular in Filipino cooking. I am glad when I can find it in the markets here in America. The pompano I bought was between 1.5 to 2 pounds which was the right size for our meal. A pompano is a flat-bodied fish, roundish in shape and usually fits a regular pan for cooking. The fish has a silvery skin and when cooked has a sweet, mild flavor.
Here in America, the pompano is harvested in many states from Virginia to Texas and primarily in Florida according to internet sources like seafoodsource.com. We personally enjoyed a couple of hefty, tasty pompanos at last year’s Food Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida, thanks to generous sponsors Ocean US Foods who supplied this wonderful fish.
This time, I cooked the pompano with vegetables Sinigang-style. Sinigang (say “see-kneeh-gang”) is a Filipino tamarind clear-broth stew. The beauty of this all-in-one meal soup is that you can put everything together in a stockpot and leave it alone to cook for a few quick minutes.
A good sinigang has a very tart, sour, tangy flavor to it. I’ve mentioned before if your face puckers up and you wince at the first sip of the sour soup, then it is good sinigang. Since I don’t have fresh tamarinds in my backyard here in my suburban American home, I use tamarind concentrate as a souring agent. This time, my sister in the Philippines suggested I add lemongrass as an additional souring ingredient.
Lemongrass is also known as “tanglad” to Filipinos. It is a tropical plant that grows in Asia, Africa and Australia and used in many culinary dishes. Nowadays fresh lemongrass can be found in large markets here in America. This herb which looks like a long, stiff scallion stalk has the scent of lemons with hints of ginger. I use it a lot for teas, soups, curries in meats and seafood dishes.
As I swirled the bubbling broth with my ladle in the deep stockpot, the varying vegetables of tomatoes, eggplants, kangkong (water spinach), radish, onions and sitaw (long green beans) nestled snugly next to the plump pompano. I knew this was going to be a meaty, heavy, filling meal which we would enjoy with a bowl of steaming jasmine rice. Sometimes good food just lingers on your palate for a long time.
Sinigang na Pompano with Tamarind and Lemongrass
- Large stockpot or Dutch oven
- Alternative: Instant Pot or any multi-cooker brand - 6 quart or 8 quart
- 1.5 to 2 pounds fresh pompano fish cleaned, scales and intestines removed, scored diagonally (or use snapper)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon or calamansi juice
- 1 teaspoon salt for marinade
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper for marinade
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 whole onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 to 3 stalks fresh lemongrass middle white part, pounded and sliced
- 2 Tablespoons patis fish sauce
- 2 whole large tomatoes sliced
- 8 to 10 cups vegetable broth or rice wash
- 3 Tablespoons tamarind liquid concentrate
- 1 whole daikon radish peeled, sliced, about 1 cup
- 2 cups sitaw ( long green beans) sliced into 2-inch length pieces
- 1 bundle (2 cups) fresh kangkong (water spinach) edges trimmed, coarsely sliced in 2-inch pieces or use fresh baby spinach
- 2 whole Asian eggplants sliced, about 2 cups
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- boiled rice for serving
- 1/4 cup patis (fish sauce) for serving on the side
To prepare the pompano:
- Wash the fish with running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Prepare the fish by scoring diagonally on top about 2 to 3 times on both sides. Marinate the fish with the lemon or calamansi juice, salt and black pepper for 30 minutes. The marinade will seep through the slits you previously scored. Set aside.
To cook the sinigang:
- In a large, deep stockpot, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. When oil is hot, saute the garlic and onions for 1 to 2 minutes till fragrant.Add the lemongrass, tomatoes and patis (fish sauce).
- Pour the broth or rice wash and the tamarind concentrate into the stockpot. Combine ingredients.Add the whole pompano. cover and let the broth boil over high heat.Then lower heat to a medium simmer and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more.
- Add the rest of the vegetables: The radish, eggplants, sitaw (long green beans). Continue cooking the fish and vegetables for 8 minutes more.
- Add the Kangkong (water spinach) and cook five minutes more till leaves soften. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve piping hot with boiled rice and a side dipping sauce of patis (fish sauce).
To prepare the lemongrass:
- Trim about an inch from the hard root end stalk and chop off the woody top where it starts to turn green to pale yellow.Peel off the loose, tough outer layers which will expose the white core.Pound this part with a large knife or mallet to release the aroma and oils.Slice or mince accordingly for use in the recipe.[From "The Asian Grandmothers' Cookbook" by Pat Tanumihardja]
- I used a whole pompano fish for this recipe. If preferred, use fish fillets. Most fish mongers offer for free to clean the fish, remove the scales, gut the intestines, cut off the tail and/or transform the whole fish into fillets. Be sure to avail of these complimentary services at the fish market. It will save you a lot of time and effort.
To cook in the Instant Pot:
- Click Saute function. Pour oil into the inside pot. When oil is hot enough in 1 to 2 minutes, saute the garlic and onions. Add the lemongrass, tomatoes and patis.Pour the broth and tamarind concentrate. Add the whole fish. radish, and sitaw (long green beans). Season with salt and pepper.Click Cancel to turn off the Saute function.Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing.Press Manual and cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes. When buzzer sounds, do a Quick Release. When the float pin drops, it is safe to unlock the lid. Open the lid carefully.Add the eggplants, and water spinach. Close and lock the lid. Press Keep Warm and allow the additional vegetables to cook for 5 minutes in the residual heat. Click Cancel to turn off.Remove cover and ladle in soup bowls or a tureen. Serve piping hot.
Notes on the Instant Pot:
- After the Saute function, it takes about 17 to 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to preheat before the High Pressure cooking time begins. For other brands of multi-cookers please check the product manual.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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