Sinigang na Baboy: The Hearty and Sour Soup of the Philippines

Sinigang recipe
My recipe for Sinigang na Baboy.

Growing up, I was not the biggest fan of soup. But as a kid, my definition of soup was a broth and nothing else inside it. I’ve actually been enjoying so much soup as a kid and I didn’t even know it. Sinigang na Baboy is easily my favourite soup. Any time I could smell it simmering throughout the house around dinner time, I knew I was in for a treat that night.

Sweet tamarind with chopping block.
Fresh tamarind.  Photo taken from https://indigenousbartender.com/2018/08/10/brits-the-tamarind-heads/

Sinigang na Baboy is a sour and savoury soup that consists of whatever cuts of pork you want and a tamarind based broth. I used pork belly and pork short ribs. The soup usually contains tomatoes and onions as the flavouring agents. Below you can see the meat and veggies that I prepared for my soup.

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Veggies
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Pork belly and short ribs
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Bok choy
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Diced onion and tomato
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Daikon radish and taro root

While eating this soup, many various senses are achieved. Looking at the soup, it’s clear to see that the soup has a distinct orange-ish colour due to the tomatoes. The chunks of pork help visualize savouriness as well. As for aromas, a combination of pork and tomato smells fill up the kitchen. Tastewise, the soup tastes sour because of the tamarind and savoury due to the pork. For the mouthfeel, the soup is not too thin but also not too thick. There are no thickening agents added but the fat content of the pork does assist in making the soup have a little more body.

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Simmering!

I asked my older brother to taste my soup after it was prepared. He was born and raised in the Philippines so he is very accustomed to this soup. He looked at it to see if it looked “complete” with all the usual veggies and a good amount of pork to which he was pleased. He described the aroma as “strong pork and tomato”. He had hoped for some chillis because he enjoys it a bit more spicy. Overall, he thought it was seasoned well, had a good amount of sour tamarind flavour, and had a good balance of meat to veggies.

While cooking my soup, there were some minor challenges involved. One challenge that I had was deciding on my ingredients. Veggies can range anymore from bok choy, green beans, or kale. Meat could also be commonly substituted with salmon. In that case it would be called Sinigang na Salmon. I chose to use pork because, in my opinion, it is much more visually appealing and suits the sour flavour better.

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Finished product

I think in general, making my soup was a success because it fed my whole family for dinner that night and they were all satisfied. One thing that I would do differently is to add more bok choy. I would also add a few chilis and a little bit of fish sauce. Serving with fish sauce and calamansi on the side works well too.

My experience in cooking and documenting my soup for this blog was very fun. Cooking for the family at home is always satisfying, but having to take pictures and describing one of my favourite foods for you all to experience made it even more enjoyable. One thing I learned is how important having a safe and extensive workspace is. My prep area is extremely small and it’s hard to fit anything more than a cutting board and a couple of bowls. Ingredients were still organized but scattered all over the kitchen.

One thing that I will strive to continue applying to my future culinary endeavours is keeping my ingredients organized. Preparing a Mise en Place feels very rewarding and makes cooking so much easier and coordinated. For my future culinary experiences, I hope to always keep myself organized. No matter how busy I will be, getting all the prep work done and being organized will make my efforts much more efficient.

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