As much as we love the convenience of instant sinigang mix, nothing beats old-school sinigang made with sampalok, or tamarind. Like drinking fresh orange juice after a lifetime of powdered stuff, sampalok-soured broth has a brighter, fresher tartness with citrus-like notes. For the pork, we use two cuts: ribs for porky flavor, and belly for richness.
- 400-500g sampalok
- 8 cups water
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 4 tomatoes, quartered
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- salt, to taste
- 400g pork ribs
- 400g pork belly, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 green chilies, whole
- 2 cups radish, sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups sitaw, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
- 3 cups kangkong, stems and leaves separated
- salt, to taste
Boil sampalok: Add water and sampalok to a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil until sampalok turns soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the sampalok, saving the water. Once sampalok is cool enough to handle, remove as much peel as possible.
Mash and strain sampalok: Mash tamarind pulp with a fork until smooth. Pass the pulp through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, then add the liquid to the tamarind broth. Repeat until liquid has been fully extracted from the pulp.
Cook aromatics and pork: Add oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook tomatoes, red onion, and garlic until softened. Add 8 cups of tamarind broth and stir. Season with salt as needed. Once liquid is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and add pork. Cook until fork-tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Cook vegetables: Add vegetables in stages to prevent overcooking. Start with chilies to infuse the broth, then go from hard to soft, leafy vegetables: radish, eggplant, sitaw, and kangkong. Season with salt to taste.
Serve: Transfer sinigang to a bowl. Serve hot with patis and steamed rice on the side.
You can puree the sampalok pulp with a blender or food processor.