Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimp in Sour Soup)
There are many dishes that members of the Filipino diaspora often crave for. But not all ingredients are readily available locally in many cities and places around the world. One such ingredient is the tamarind fruit. Indigenous to Africa, tamarind has been introduced in Asia, Australia, and Mexico. It is not grown in many places elsewhere, but may be available commercially-packaged in dried or frozen form. Tamarind is the prime ingredient in the popular Filipino dish known as sinigang. It is a sour soup that uses tamarind as its base flavor, and cooked with meat or fish, and vegetables. Thanks to food technology, sinigang is now within easy reach of Filipinos worldwide, as well as others who enjoy this distinctive cuisine. Packets of tamarind seasoning mix, available in most Asian stores or supermarkets everywhere (not to mention the Internet market place) can now provide a close- to- authentic flavor in your sinigang without the need for the fresh or frozen tamarind.
This soup recipe uses shrimp as the main ingredient. It is easy and quick to prepare and comes almost as “instant” as the powdered soup base. Once you’ve tried this recipe, you will be able to prepare other sinigang dishes with pork, beef or fish.
1 package (1.07 oz) tamarind seasoning mix (Mama Sita’s)
1 lb fresh medium shrimp, head, tail and shell on
1 large tomato, quartered
1 large onion, quartered
2 cups long green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups radish, sliced
2 cups spinach
2 green chiles, sliced
8 cups water
1 tbsp fish sauce
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Reduce heat. Add tomatoes and onions and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the entire package of tamarind seasoning mix. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add in long beans, radish and pepper. Add fish sauce. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, making sure not to overcook them. Turn heat off and add spinach. Cover saucepan to steam the spinach. Serve hot in a soup bowl.
***If fresh tamarind fruit is available to you and you would prefer preparing this dish from scratch, here’s a great resource on how to prepare the tamarind broth for sinigang, using unripe tamarind. You will then use the tamarind broth (instead of water and powdered seasoning mix) to cook the vegetables and shrimp.