Winter is coming. This morning’s 34°F temp is just the beginning. The beginning of the end. Goodbye gorgeous sunny days, hello vitamin D deficiency. Let’s all just embrace the seasonal change by stacking our couches with infinite throw blankets and marathoning Netflix. Hard.
Or, you can enjoy a delicious Fil-Am stew that can showcase the abundant harvest of late summer/early fall, yet feel hearty enough to keep you warm during these upcoming chilly nights.
Sinigang is a traditional Filipino sour stew made from a tamarind soup base. Guava, green mango, bilimbi, or calamansi can also be used to add sourness to the stew, but I prefer tamarind. Throw in some aromatics, veggies, and meat (usually fish, pork, chicken, or prawn), and you’ve got yourself a sinigang. There is a conception that eating sour things has a cooling effect in hot climates, but I found sinigang to be a hearty and heart-warming experience.
Traditional Philippine vegetables used in sinigang can include sitaw (long bean), okra, gabi (taro), daikon, kang kong (water spinach), eggplant, and green chili peppers. I don’t have ready access to these vegetables. Yes, I could hop on the T and trek to Super 88 in Allston or HMart in Cambridge. I could stick with tradition. But since I work part time for Siena Farms, I think I’d rather use the organic veggies included in my weekly kick-ass CSA box. My sinigang featured hakurei turnips, Hungarian hot wax and jalapeno peppers, chard, fairy tale eggplants, garlic, and onion. I also picked up an heirloom tomato, pork ribs, and pork belly from Stillman’s stand. Talk about local!
Okay, except for the tamarind. Some ingredients you can’t replace. I used a powder, but concentrate also works well.
The beauty in sinigang is the ability to make the stew your own. Use fresh ingredients from your local producers. Make it as sour, sweet, or spicy as you want. Like with any stew, sinigang is meant for sharing. Serve a piping hot bowl with a side of rice to your friends. Wash it down with a thirst-quenching beer. Talk about ways you’ll beat the New England winter while slurping up a spoonful of savory broth.
This is my first sinigang of the season, but it certainly won’t be my last. I can’t wait to watch a blustering snow storm from my kitchen window while my taste buds enjoy a sour, spicy, savory, and sweet stew from the tropics.
It’s going to be a long winter. Go buy a big pot.
Pork Sinigang with Local Vegetables
2-3 lbs pork ribs and/or belly. Belly should be cut into chunks.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, small diced
2 small hot peppers, sliced
1 packet of sinigang tamarind soup base
1 medium tomato, cut into chunks
1 medium Asian eggplant, cut into medium chunks
4 small mild turnips or radishs, such as hakurei turnip or daikon radish, sliced
1 small bunch of leafy greens, coarsely chopped
1. Heat oil in large, heavy bottom pot. On high heat, sear pork ribs and belly. Remove from pot and reserve.
2. In the same pot over medium heat, saute garlic and onions. Add chili peppers and continue to saute for a few minutes. Return pork to pot, and add enough water to cover the meat. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil, skimming any scum. Reduce heat and maintain a simmer. Add tamarind powder. Cook until meat is tender.
3. Add eggplants and turnips or radishes. Continue to cook until slightly tender. Add leafy greens.
Serve with rice.