Sunday, December 30, 2012

Simple and Satisfying: Sinigang

I love how serendipitous life can be.  At our holiday party this year I was sitting at a table where the talk turned to food.  One of my co-workers was talking about the Filipino foods he grew up eating and every once in a while he would turn to the woman who was sitting between us and ask "Have you had that?"  Her response every time was yes, so I started wondering how she had come to be so familiar with Filipino cuisine.  I finally had to ask her, and it turns out that her husband is Filipino.

One of the dishes they were discussing, called Sinigang, sounded especially interesting to me, so I asked her if she would bring me the recipe when she had a chance.  She got up from the table, went looking for paper and a pen, and sat down right then and there and wrote it out for me.  I put it in my pocket and brought it home, then promptly forgot about it.

That weekend I met a friend for breakfast and after a couple of hours of catching up we decided to walk down the street to Whole Foods.  I had no meal plans for the week and was getting ready for my annual pilgrimage to Austin so I didn't want to load up with too many groceries.  As I was thinking about what I already had in the kitchen and what I might need, I realized that I already had most of the ingredients to make Sinigang so I bought the few items I still needed, hoping that I was not forgetting anything.

Sinigang is the perfect thing to make when you want something hearty and satisfying but do not want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  It comes together quickly and easily and is a perfect one-dish meal for a cold winter's day.  It is usually made with fish or pork, but it sure was tasty with the chicken.  The tamarind gives it a fresh citrus flavor that can be achieved with lime juice of you do not have access to tamarind paste. I usually have it on hand now that I am making my own Worcestershire sauce and am always looking for other ways to use it and this is a particularly delicious way to use it. In fact, it would be worth having the tamarind paste hanging around the pantry just for this dish alone.

And it would make an excellent New Year's Day lunch or dinner.
Home Cookin Chapter: Poultry

Makes 4 servings

2 lbs chicken thighs
2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1-2 whole banana peppers
1 lb chopped leafy greens, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp tamarind paste
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken in a large dutch oven and add enough water to barely cover.  Season with salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and saute until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

After the chicken has been simmering for the 20 minutes, add the onion garlic and ginger mixture to the pot, then the tomatoes and banana pepper(s).  Bring back to a boil, cover, and cook for another 30 minutes.  Add the greens and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken is done.

Add the tamarind and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and serve immediately over rice.

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

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