There are many variants of sinigang. By "meat" - pork, chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, or even the lack thereof - vegetarian. By souring agent - bayabas (guava), sampaloc (tamarind), hilaw na mangga (green mango), kamias (I have no idea what this is in English), kalamansi (Philippine lime) and santol (another one whose English name I don't know). By far the most common is pork and sampaloc, although bangus (milkfish) is a close contender.
The sinigang of my childhood is one made from scratch (by boiling sampaloc in water, mashing it when cooked and straining everything in another pot of water, usually with gabi boiled in it and softened), but these days, there's a multitude of instant sinigang mixes that is simply added to water and voila! sinigang in a few minutes even without anything in it.
But in my book, sinigang is always with sampaloc and gabi (taro), tomato, sitaw (long beans), and kangkong (swamp spinach/cabbage). My absolute favorite is shrimp!
Yesterday, I had a longing for sinigang with salmon, specifically salmon belly. Unfortunately, I only found the head and tail. But tides turned in the afternoon when the salmon belly (figuratively) fell into my lap!
Here's the recipe:
sampaloc, prepared as indicated above OR
instant sinigang mix (for 2 liters of water)
1 piece salmon head and tail (came in a set)
1 pack salmon belly (about 8 to 9 "strips")
gabi (we like a lot of these)
1 large Spanish onion
2 medium local tomatoes
sitaw (1 bundle)
okra, sliced (discard ends)
sili (finger chili)
kangkong (2 bundles)
Prepare the souring agent (cook, mash and drain fresh sampaloc) or dissolve instant sinigang in a little water. Boil the gabi to desired "softness".
Clean the head, tail and belly.
Saute the onion until caramelized, add the tomatoes. Pan fry the fish for several seconds. Pour in the gabi with boiling liquid, souring agent, and top up to make about 2 liters total. Add the sitaw, sili and okra and simmer until quite done. Throw in the kangkong, cover the pot and remove from heat.
Here's our sinigang:
Yummy! And yes, very comforting...