Lasang Pinoy 2 – Sinigang na Bangus at Bayabas / Milkfish in Guava Broth a la Marketman

This post is my contribution to the Second “Lasang Pinoy” Food Bloggers Event. For a round up or summary of all entries, kindly visit English Patis in a few days time. Please also take the time to do the rounds of Filipino food bloggers around the world who have posted their food memories of cooking and eating during the typhoon season.

My earliest memories of typhoons and storms are strewn bay1with images of low lying, fast moving dark clouds, violently swaying trees, loud gusts of whirling air moving in and out of our family bungalow, thigh-deep floods on the streets, black-outs (where the heck did the term brown-outs come from?), news received over battery operated radios, hoarding of sugar, rice and de lata (vienna sausage, pork & beans and corned beef) and, of course, Signal Number Two and that brilliant early morning PAGASA advice that classes in elementary school had been suspended! Yahoo! Pull out those raincoats, make those styrofaoam rafts to float down the canal outside the gate, watch TV and see the images of nature unleashing its fury, usually somewhere else on the Philippine archipelago. Typhoons for the most part struck somewhere else. Considering that the Philippines experiences an average of 19 storms a year, many of them mostly out at sea, it takes a confluence of factors to have a really powerful typhoon pass right smack on top of your childhood home.

November 19, 1970 was the first time I recall in vivid detail one of these powerful storms. That was the day Typhoon Yoling made a direct hit on Metro Manila. bay2With maximum recorded winds at 200 kph, it was perhaps the strongest storm to make a direct hit on the city of Manila since 1945, when records were first kept, until today 60 years later. Apparently the eye of the storm passed directly over Antipolo while it crossed the city and it obliterated the house of an Uncle that lived on the mountainside in Beverly Hills. His entire wall of floor to ceiling glass jalousies which earlier provided a spectacular view of the City of Manila in the valley or plains below had turned into deadly weapons arsenal as the jalousies started breaking away and like ninja stars sheared anything animate or inanimate in their path. Closer to home in Quezon City, the roofs on the homes of two neighbors completely lifted off their rafters and landed many meters away. Electricity was out for several weeks and the damage all around memorable. We had no school until Christmas break that year if I recall correctly.

In the midst of even the worst typhoons, families had to eat. I recall several meals consumed by candlelight. If things were really bad, we had de lata, hence my penchant for eating corned beef with sautéed onions together with pork & beans. Must have lots of tomato ketchup too. My wife thinks I am weird that I combine the two types of canned goods on one plate, but I explained that in our house, if we had to go de lata, then we had corned beef or spam or Vienna sausage AND pork & beans as the vegetable equivalent. Failing cans as a source of food, we had dried fish such as danggit or tuyo with scrambled egg and rice, lots of vinegar please. This was disaster comfort food. Otherwise, typhoon or the rainy season generally meant nice hot soups as the ultimate comfort food. As a special treat, my mom used to make ginataang halo-halo to have on a wet, cool and stormy afternoon. I have posted several recipes of things that I would have eaten during a storm, so I had to wrack my brains for something special to post today. Instead of doing something from the past, I have decided to focus on typhoon comfort food for the future… here is my simple recipe for Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas or Milkfish in Guava Broth.

I never made this dish until last week and I was stunned by its simplicity, flavor, familiarity and comfort. bay4Thanks to my readers Ann and Vicky who gave suggestions on how to make it. I never consulted a cookbook, I just winged it and below are the results of that experimentation. It should be said that this sinigang should be the essence of the rainy season, because many years ago, before powdered sampaloc or tamarind mixes, the main flavoring ingredients during the rainy season were the tail end summer guavas, perhaps iba/kamias or kalamansi which are all in season. There was no sampaloc at this time (except tendrils of the sampaloc tree or very young sampaloc pods towards September/October), and therefore no sinigang na sampaloc during the heart of the typhoon season from June to August was possible until the last few decades due to powdered mixes.

Purchase ripe “native” pungent guavas and wash well. bay3Remove the seeds and pulp and place this in a separate bowl. Cut up the guavas (about ½ kilo or more) and throw into soup pot with water and some chopped onion (and some tomatoes if you like) and let boil for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place the seeds and pulp in some cheesecloth and add to the boiling water for additional flavor – I did this to extract maximum flavor essence; omit this step if you think it is frivolous and you don’t have cheesecloth handy. This is my “guava pulp and seed bouquet” as I like to call it. Once cooked and guava is tender, take about half of the guava and place it in a blender together with a cup of cooking liquid. Blitz this in the blender until pureed. Return this puree to the boiling soup. This will make the broth cloudy and substantial, rather than clear as some people prefer it. Add salt (generously) and some patis and a little ground white pepper. Cook a few more minutes and taste for seasoning. If you use too many unripe guavas, it will taste a bit aphud or astringent…

Finally, add any vegetables such as green beans and siling mahaba or chilli peppers that need a few minutes to cook. Add large slices of bangus fillet (no bones would be ideal) and let this cook for just 2-3 minutes. Add kangkong or water spinach and just cook say 1 minute and serve piping hot with lots of steamed rice. Serve either ginisang bagoong (sauteed shrimp paste) as a side dish or just a sawsawan of patis (fish sauce) and kalamansi. I love this soup. It is now on our all-time Pinoy favorites list posted on the refrigerator. Perfect in the eye of a storm. Enjoy!


17 Responses

  1. Aha! So I’m not the only weird one, I still eat my corned beef and Spam with pork & beans. My husband found it weird at first but is used to the idea now. Typhoon food for me is Guinisang mongo and rice. My sister and I would pack it in lunchboxes for the ride around the flooded areas with our dad (an original “usisero”)in our really OLD 1950something Chevy.

  2. Ever since our ancient generator died from overuse during the power crisis in the late 80’s typhoon food had always been adobo. To save all the meat in the fridge from spoilage everything was cooked into something that would keep until power was restored. Post typhoon fare would be bangus and tilapia which were plentiful due to the wrecked fishpens in Laguna de Bay.

  3. you got a nice version of ‘sinigang na bayabas’, you made me really hungry now and i’m missing the rainy season!

  4. Now I am missing my mom’s sinigang sa bayabas. She picked the guavas that are close to falling from the guava tree in our backyard then. And she doesn’t remove the seeds in cooking; she just peels them and puts them in the pot.

    I know what’s missing from your sinigang compared to my mom’s. Gabi and puso ng saging! But since it is a post for the rainy days, I think you’re meaning to cook something without going out to the market, pulling any sensible ingredients to the meal from the refrigerator. Nevertheless, the distinct sweet/sour taste of the “essence of guava” (?) makes this a very comforting treat during heavy rains.

  5. Baldwin, you are right, I can see both gabi and puso ng saging as a perfect addition to this recipe. If you don’t mind, I’ll pick up on that idea the next time I make it! Thanks! Ann, salamat sa iyo for sharing your views on how to cook sinigang na bayabas! Michael I forgot that logic, lots of bangus break free from fish pens…I heard that too! Hchie, let’s start an association of meat and pork and beans eaters!

  6. Marketman, I totally wouldn’t mind. I would be more than happy to share to you and the readers have a taste of what I enjoy eating. Hope you’d enjoy it too. Thank you too! =)

  7. Give me sinigang anytime!! Comfort food in any weather. :)
    Great post Marketman. Brought out a lot of memories especially that typhoon Yoling. Yeah it did devastate Southern Luzon a lot and I remember a number more than usual of roofs and houses collapsing or blown away.

    Thanks for joining Lasang Pinoy 2. :)

  8. I’ve only had sinigang na sampaloc and lately I’ve been curious about the other sinigang versions. Thanks for sharing this recipe! It sounds delicious! Love the “guava pulp and seed bouquet” :) Where do you get your cheese cloth? Haven’t made anything that entails using it, but I am mysteriously drawn to any step labelled as “frivolous”…heehee!

    Great LP post! :)

  9. I miss the sinigang using the little leaves. The sinigang looks good, Marketman. I like it that way — studded green with a bounty of veggies. What’s good now is that you can make sinigang na bangus too using just the tiyan. Saranggani Bay has great frozen-fresh tiyan ng bangus. At least, wala nang mag-aaway pa for the tiyan! A bit of a challenge to handle but the pay-off is bliss.

    I also love gabi in sinigang – it’s the double the carb I know but what the heck. When it’s mushy, it just has the creamy mouthfeel and taste of mashed potatoes. Comforting stuff. I missed Sinigang when I did South Beach. I’m out of the diet now. I figured I’d rather box, run and spin for 3 hours a day than miss out on a perfect meal. Carpe diem, Baby.

  10. the gabi and puso ng saging would help the broth to be cloudy, so no need to puree the guavas. Thanks for the nice post !

  11. thanks for the trip down memory lane — one of your best posts yet, MM! how could i forget the black-outs and candles? i was only 2 when yoling hit, but i remember the name being mentioned for years when storms would come. and yes, sinigang is the perfect comfort food! my hubby is just like you in that if we’re having any sort of canned processed food, he’ll automatically ask, do we have pork and beans to go with it? thanks once again for joining us for Lasang Pinoy!

  12. I am in NorCal and cant find ONE really good Pilipino restaurant. My mouth is salivating from reading all the Pilipino recipes. I have not been able to locate the recipe for Lugao. My old amah used to make it for me when I was sick. It always made me feel better. Anyone have it?

  13. Shalori, I will post a lugao recipe within the next 2-3 weeks. It’s just rice water, chicken, ginger and some local saffron if you want color. As for the kropec, I know no one who makes it from scratch…buy it in malay, Indonesian or Filipino stores dried and just fry it up. I would imagine any of the many internet asian food sites would have it for delivery…

  14. Basta sinigang, I’m there! One of our blogkadahan friend has come up with a name for us sigang lovers, “sinigangsters”!
    My lola used to cook this all the time, especially when guavas were abundant, and she did it with your method of separating the seeds too. I remember her getting so upset with a househelp who didn’t know to do this, and put the whole guava in, including the seeds making the soup seedy :-) Seedy soup would still be ok for a sinigangster like me though ;-)

  15. This is the ultimate reminder of how good it was when my lola was still alive. She could make some mean sinigang sa bayabas. We were neighbors, so when I smell its scent, I was like a bolt of lightning, I’m there already. Of course, that always got me into trouble because my Mom hates that nangangabitbahay ako, even if that’s my patermal gramma. Anyway, when I saw the title “Sinigang sa Bayabas,” memories of my dear beloved grandma flooded my thoughts. thanks for sharing.
    Anyway, does anyone have a recipe of balaw-balaw? I obviously don’t have the vaguest clue how its made but i think its made of fermented baby shrimps and rice. It’s also artificially colored pink. It’s native to Morong, Rizal. I remember us going there just to buy it by a bazillion gallons! Parang laging nagpa-panic buying!
    Well, thanks in advance and this is a great blog! My cousin Millet shared it with the whole clan. Thanks, Millet!

  16. sinigang sa bayabas reminded me of my mom’s cooking. sometimes she would use pork instead of milkfish, and then add a bunch of taro roots, long green beans,kangkong and green pepper. i cook this occasionally and it is sort of a comfort food for me…

  17. Like most people, sinigang sa bayabas is coked with fish and from where my Lolo and Lola came from, they usually used kanduli. I didn’t particularly like this type of sinigang back then, enjoying sinigang only if were made sour with sampaloc.

    I was lucky enough to have tasted sinigang sa bayabas using pork at a friends house about two years ago and indeed, it was really delicious and has become one of my favorite sinigang vaieties. Not as heart friendly as using fish though but a really good deviation from the ordinary once in a while

    I now love cooking different version’s of sinigang using bayabas, kamias, miso or calamansi as souring agent and combining this with either pork, beef, chicken, shrimps and different kinds of fish (or a combination of fish and shrimps)and different vegetables such as labanos, gabi, sitaw, talong, banana heart, kangkong, okra, camote tops etc. You will be surprised with the many combinations you could come up with!



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