Siningang is stil one of the most popular dishes in our country.
It’s regularly served in households in the provinces and cities, and is a staple at side street eateries and Pinoy restaurants. We love its refreshing hot broth and its myriad of ingredients. So why exactly do Filipinos love this dish? A number of food writers have written all about our Asim Kilig cravings.
Sourness is one of the most dominant flavors in Philippines cuisine, says food columnist Claude Tayag. Before refrigerators, Filipinos used vinegar as seasoning and as a natural preservative. It keeps our food from turning bad quickly especially in the warm climate. Since then, our mouths have been watering over sour mangoes and kalamansi.
Another reason for our penchant for sour flavors is its effect on the body, according to food writer Doreen Fernandez. Our hot climate doesn’t just make us want to jump in a cool pond, it also makes us crave for food with a refreshing effect. The initial sour hit of Sinigang is followed by a naturally cooling and refreshing Asim Kilig sensation.
Some food writers are even saying Sinigang should be our national dish. They say there is something unique about Sinigang that keep it exciting and relevant for Pinoys. Food writer Irene Perez quoted Doreen Fernandez as saying Sinigang reflects the ingenuity of Filipno cooks. Virtually all of its ingredients can be replaced depending on the terrain. Towns close to water can add fresh seafood and a myriad of vegetables, and inland folk can make an equally taste pork or beef version with inland crops. The classic souring agent is sampaloc, but this can be replaced with the common kamias or even rare strawberries.
Perhaps the reason why Pinoys love Sinigang si simply because it reflects who we are: an adaptable, fun-loving, and resourceful people who crave for Asim Kilig in food and in life!
Want to read up more? Here are some references:
Sinigang: We like it sour
by Claude Tayag
by Doreen Fernandez
Why piping-hot sinigang is the national dish
by Irene C. Perez
I wrote web articles for Knorr, a globally-distributed food and beverage brand.