Sinigang na Bangus (Stewed Milkfish in Tamarind)

A friend from Philippines came to Beijing last weekend and I begged for them to bring me bangus (milkfish). They did! Two fish wrapped in foil, newspaper, packing tape, zip lock and sealed in a shopping bag. Thank you!

The biodegradable bangus.

Even though I grew up close to the sea, I am not a fan of seafood (or un-fresh fishy seafood). But I can never say no to bangus, my favorite fish (well besides the cute clown fish).

What Filipinos usually do to bangus is cook them as Sinigang. Sinigang is a Filipino sour soup or stew, usually with meat or seafood and lots of tomatoes and string beans. And this is exactly how I’m going to cook my fish, as Sinigang na Bangus.

As usual, I got my recipe from Panlasang Pinoy, though it’s Pork Sinigang, so I’ll just work around it and replace pork to milkfish.


2 lbs pork belly (or buto-buto) – 1 whole bangus (milkfish)

1 bunch spinach (or kang-kong) – yup

3 tbsp fish sauce – I did follow 3 tbsp, but in the end added several dashes for more flavor

1 bunch string beans (sitaw), cut in 2 inch length – 1 cup

2 pieces medium sized tomato, quartered – 3 pieces

3 pieces chili (or banana pepper) – 1 pc small green pepper

1 tbsp cooking oil – definitely did not follow this

2 liters water – about 1 ½ liters

1 large onion, sliced – yes

2 pieces taro (gabi), quartered – none

1 pack sinigang mix (good for 2 liters water) – 1 ½ small packs

* you may also add okra and eggplant if desired – nope I didn’t

Here’s my version:

From top clockwise: onions, green chili, tomatoes (3 pcs), string beans

A bunch of spinach

From left: Knorr Sinigang with Gabi (taro) mix, Borges Extra Virgin olive oil, Aroy-D Fish Sauce

Unfortunately, I am not sure if Sinigang Mix is available here in Beijing. If you want a pack, I’ll gladly trade it with good cheese. i recommend using ordinary cooking oil; I was out of cooking oil so I used olive oil. Fish sauce is available in Carrefour, or at Sanyuanli Market 三元里.

The precious bangus – cleaned, deboned and everything (thank goodness my friend brought it already clean)

Tail-less bangus – sliced into several smaller pieces

The procedure:

1. Put oil, throw the onions in (either I have too much onions or my pot is too small)

2. Put fish sauce (and as the procedure says) as well as the other ingredients. But it did not say leave the string beans out (#8), so I threw it in as well. It’s supposed to come in last so as to make it crunchy, but oh well (and good thing it did not go soggy in the end).

Tip: When I was a kid helping grandma prepare for her cooking, I can see Inday peeling the beans, so as to remove chewy veins.

Like this:

3. Pour water and bring to boil.

4. Add tomatoes and simmer for 40 minutes

5. Put the sinigang mix and chilli, simmer.

6. I’ve put the bangus second to the last.

And just before you serve, stuff the kang-kong (spinach) in, which I almost forgot!

Serve with rice, take a photo and enjoy!

More tip:

  1. I’ve boiled the soup for a long time, to make it real thick

Last photo, me devouring the goodness. Best part of the bangus is the belly (black/grey part), it’s so oily and so good. Sorry for the messy rice, I was well excited and didn’t bother with the presentation.


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