With temperatures still hovering around the lower 20s, naturally I would be craving for a hot and filling soupy dish that warms the tummy and acts like a comfort zone in cold weather. One of these is the classic pork sinigang sa kamatis, a variation of a sour, soupy porky dish cooked in tamarind. Now if I were to follow the old-fashioned way of cooking with tamarind, I’d be crushing the fruit in hot water and saving the juice to add to the boiling broth. There is also the easy way, which is to buy the ever-reliable instant tamarind powder. But I’m not hankering for it right now. Instead of tamarind, the dish calls for tomatoes as a souring agent. As always, its perfect partner on the dining table is a plateful of steaming rice.
In our family, a pork sinigang dish would often constitute of either pork spare ribs or pork belly. The former because it’s such a delight to eat spare ribs so tender they fall off the bone that you often end up with clean bones neatly stacked on your plate. The latter, meanwhile, is great with its fleshy, melt-in-your-mouth fatty parts that absorb all the broth’s flavors.
This version of pork sinigang is for those who don’t particularly enjoy the overly sour tamarind flavors and prefer the more subtle acidity of tomatoes. As always, you can put any vegetables you want, including classic ingredients like eggplant, water spinach, or whatever you have in your pantry. For now, I’m sticking close to the family tradition. Here’s what you will need:
1/2 kilo pork belly, cubed
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 knob ginger, sliced
1-2 pieces medium onions
3-4 pieces medium-sized tomatoes
1-2 pieces medium-sized radish
2 bunches bok choi
1/2 medium-sized carrot, sliced
1-2 pieces green chilies
5-6 pieces green beans (optional)
fish sauce, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
water or pork broth
1-2 tablespoons oil
1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. Once hot, saute ginger, pork belly, onions, garlic and brown the meat a bit. Once you hear the fat from the meat sizzle, add the tomatoes until they soften up a bit.
3. Add enough water to cover the meat and other ingredients. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat. Cover and simmer until the pork is tender.
4. Add the radish and carrots. Cover and continue to simmer until the vegetables are cooked (tender but still firm; don’t overcook).
5. Add the rest of the vegetables (green beans and bok choi) and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the green chilies last.
6. Season with fish sauce and add a dash of salt and pepper. Serve hot.
[POSTSCRIPT: My favorite traveling ‘twins’ graciously asked me to share my sinigang recipe in their travel blog at NomadicBoys.com. Here’s a more traditional version of pork sinigang: http://nomadicboys.com/filipino-pork-sinigang-recipe/.]