Sinigang na Santol at Bangus / Santol Soup with Milkfish a la Marketman


We picked about 20 kilos of fruit from our santol tree this morning. Besides using the bounty in our favorite santol juice, I was curious how else one might cook something using this fruit. Anyone who has been reading this blog closely for over 18 months will realize that I have mentioned several times the desire to make as many variations of sinigang (my favorite pinoy dish of all time) as I possibly can. And so far I have done sinigang with fish, shrimp, prawn, ulang, pork, beef, etc. using tamarind, tamarind leaves, sinigang mix (horrors?!), guavas, kalamansi and kamias. So I figured, why not santol? A little googling resulted in a description of a bangus sinigang with santol and no other vegetables which apparently is enjoyed in Pagsanjan, Laguna, but no proportions or methods were provided. So off to the kitchen we go…

I peeled about 8-10 small santol that were perhaps 2-3 days shy of their ripest state (they hadn’t fallen off the tree, rather were plucked off) and cut them into santol2sections and added them, seeds and pulp included, into a pot with some water and boiled this for say 15 minutes and tasted the liquid. Surprisingly, it was rather interesting… but I added about several teaspoons of rock salt to the brew. Then wanting it a bit more cloudy, I removed a few wedges of meat (not seeds) and mashed this and squeezed some liquid out of them which I added back to the broth. When the soup was sufficiently tasty, I added half of a boneless bangus (this was an experiment, hence the small portion) and cooked this for about 5 more minutes until done.

Yup, that’s it! Water, santol, salt and bangus. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. And the result? Not bad at all. The santol provides the broth with a sour yet sweet note and the flavor is unique to the santol. The salt is necessary to make this a palatable savory dish… Salt, sweet and sour… the underpinnings of a good sinigang. And the white santol3meat and gentle flavor of the bangus was good in this broth. The slightly pinkish tinge to the broth together with santol slices and milk white bangus meat is also visually appealing. I personally prefer sinigangs with all the trimmings but I was truly pleasantly surprised by this recipe. It never fails to amaze me how simple ingredients pulled together right results in such a satisfying meal. If you are a fan of santol and sinigang, this one is worth at least one try. If you used a whole bangus that you purchased for say PHP110 plus santol from your backyard, you could serve four people this hearty lunch for about PHP30 each, not bad huh? With the other half of the bangus I also made a batuan based sinigang, post coming up soon…


30 Responses

  1. hi. have been reading your blog for quite some time now but this is my first time to comment. am thrilled to see this kind of sinigang in your blog. my mom cooks this sinigang na bangus sa santol ever since i could remember. i love this dish. love the white soup – whiter because of the santol and the whiteness of the bangus. guess, am lucky. grew up with different varieties of sinigang. my faves are sinigang na liempo sa bayabas, sinigang na bangus sa santol, sinampalukang manok (with the sampalok leaves), sinigang na pork sa kamias, sinigang na sugpo sa sampalok and sinigang na salmon sa miso and the other fish varieties my mom cooks. thanks for reminding me. =)

  2. Wow that looks yummy. I’d like to see that batuan sinigang also… for me, batuan/batwan has always been an ilonggo ingredient for souring broth. I miss cooking with it.

  3. This is interesting and truly unique. Is this some sort of regional cuisine from Pagsanjan, Laguna? And another thing, I did not notice any “greens” typically found in sinigang (I guess the ones served in our home) like kangkong, but then a good sinigang does come from a good broth. I will share this to my mom who loves sinigang the most(but unfortunately not so computer savvy to even log on to your site!) This will surely interest her. Thanks again!

  4. wow, mukhang masarap… masubukan nga! sarap yan with patis at siling labuyo… siguro mas masarap kung lagyan ng sili pangsigang o kalamansi para matanggal yung parang “maantang” lasa ng santol o yung parang kakaibang after-taste..

  5. My relatives are from that part of the country and this is usually served with a sauce that is mashed coconut meat cooked in bagoong and coconut cream…:-)

  6. Quite a nice idea! I’d add a few leafy veggies and some root produce like kamote, gabi and labanos as well para kumpleto!

  7. Ah, this and sinigang sa bayabas are both our house favorites. We do add kangkong and siling pang-sigang though. Perfect for the rainy season!

  8. my favorite is binayabas na frogs legs. or bangus. but santol! i have never tried santol. we don’t use santol in bulacan. i must convince nana meng to make some! i think i’d like to try it tulip’s way though, with kangkong and sili. great experiment, mm! thanks for sharing the idea!

  9. hi MM, sinigang sa santol isnt new to my ears (and tastebuds too!) since santol or kamias was a favorite alternative to tamarind for sinigang in my grandmother’s household. Though like the usual sinigang, sliced onions and tomatoes are added a few minutes after the santol quarters are dropped into the boiling water… the santol flesh is also ribbed (perhaps to extract more flavor) and yes mashed. Yet, im not so sure though why the mustasa leaves or pechay instead of kangkong, nonetheless, this has always been a well-loved dish of my family.

  10. Hello Marketman,

    Great pix, you’re making me hungry at mid morning here in SF/Bay Area. love this dish but, You ever tried sinigang using cashew fruit/bunga ng kasuy as a souring agent? Please give it a try and see if you like that sweet/sour/pungent taste and smell. Anyways, sinigang like everyone else is claiming, to my family and I, it is one of the best soup dish next to nilagang baka.

  11. We have used sour santol as a souring agent for sinigang whenever tamarind is out of season. I like it – gives the broth that milky white look making it more appetizing. No need to use banana heart to get that look.

  12. MM, I grew up in Manila, honest to God, I have to confess, I have never eaten or encountered so many foods and food preparation you have featured here. I feel, I missed out a lot of my life while living there as a Filipino.

    BTW,I have a suggestion you may have not featured.. “Chili con Carne” or simply “Chili.”. There are so many styles of preparing it. Texas Style, Cincinnati Style ie.with chocolate and cinnamon, or the real Mexican style or even Vegetarian style Chili.

    I know we made them in the Philippines except, no one ever mentions making it. Have Filipinos forgotten to make this dish at all? Any comment on this suggestion?

  13. Haaayy, kelan kaya ako ulit makakatikim nito? Moreso, kelan kaya ako ulit makakatikim ng santol? :( If only I could just fly back home right this minute :)

    My grandma used to cook this with siling pangsigang and kangkong.

  14. Hi Everyone, it’s interesting how quite a few folks know this dish but many others do not. I had never tasted it before. And while I started experimentation with the base broth and totally naked (no other veggies), I can see how the kangkong and siling mahaba would enhance this. Perhaps next time. I don’t think this dish is that common because of one simple reason… the santol season is a short one. At most, you would be able to make this sinigang for about 1 month out of every year. And yes, it does happen to be in the months when tamarind is harder to find perhaps… as with all natural cuisine evolutions, I’m sure our ancestors added whatever was in season AND/OR what was locally available to their soups/dishes… allen, under normal circumstances, 1/2 bangus would be bitin but I made the batuan sinigang with the other half so it worked out well. jo-i, welcome to the ranks of commenters, it’s interesting how some posts draw out long time lurkers… thebee, batuan coming up soon. elaine, the only on-line reference I found to this soup suggested it be made without any other veggies, but I can see how they would make it look more colorful and taste better… macpower, surprisingly there was no aphud or maantang aspect to the soup. After 15 minutes simmering, that aspect of the rind disappeared completely and the rind was edible with the fish. Just DO NOT eat santol seeds. lysandrad, that sauce sounds amazing, could you share proportions and method for making it? Thanks. Jade, Tulip and Margauxlicious, ditto to veggies. Starbuxadix, I will add onions and tomatoes and greens next time… I suspect it calls for mustasa as the santol has a meatiness to it? and the mustasa complements the santol flavor? Jdawgg, SHUCKS! I had an abundance of kasoy fruit about two months ago and didn’t know they used that for sinigang too… will have to do that next year when it is in season to add to my Sinigang line-up. Thanks for that suggestion! Maria Clara, the pale pink broth was unusual and very appetizing looking, I must say. Paolo, I didn’t experience many of these dishes as a kid either. And yes, my mom made a lot of chili con carne the pinoy way… lots of red beans, ground meat and tomato sauce and spices. MRJP, too bad they don’t send santol to the U.S., it would last the trip but it wouldn’t pass customs… it is so hardy I am sure they could spray it with stuff to kill any bugs… You sure the Asian groceries don’t carry a version of preserved santol or frozen santol from Thailand?

  15. Seafood City here in the SF bay area carries frozen santol as big as a softball ;-) but they are too sour sometimes. Are they better the sour they are? I will try it for sinigang but not for juice.

  16. my mom makes this sinigang with the usual spring onions, tomatoes and adds kangkong or talbos ng kamote and siling pari.
    i remenber we also make burong santol. combine salt, water and vinegar in a big jar and drop peeled, bruised whole santols and wait a few hours before eating. to bruise the santol hold the peeled santol in one hand and the knife with your other hand and make chopping strokes around the santol, the more cuts the santol gets the better kasi mas madaling mag-absorb yung santol just make sure the santol stays whole. then we dip the santol in some salt with sili. you can then add more of the santol in the solution.

  17. I love sinigang the santol, although it’s very seasonal. I actually prefer sinigang na baboy with santol. We just prepare the santol brought differently though. We do not add the seeds, just use the meat, then mashed it with a bit of salt until the sour juice comes out. Also we cut the santols not into quarters but crossed-hatched so it will be easier to extract the juice as then you’ll end with smaller pieces, then add the juice and santol meat when your meat is cooked. Obviously the more sour you want it the more santol juice and meat you have to add, The smaller pieces also goes well with a piece of meat (fish or prk) on top of hot rice.

  18. hehehe, It seems like I can’t spell in my last post. Make that santol broth not brought, d’oh! And what the heck is prk, that should be pork.

    mrs m, my mom make burong santol as well. Thanks to an abundance of santol when the two trees in the yard starts yielding fruits. That’s basically how you prepare the santol for the buro and for the sinigang, make chopping strokes on the santol with the santol on one hand and the knife on the other. I remember as a child, I was so proud when I finally mastered the techniqure, sort of. LOL.

  19. I don’t know about you guys, but having spent part of my growing years back in Davao, we ate santol as a fruit (cut up and lathered with sea salt) and never used it in cooking. I was taken aback seeing MM’s santol sinigang photo ;o

    Sad to say and embarassed to admit that I still cook my sinigang with powdered concoction from Mama Sita or Knorr pouches! ouch…

  20. Hi MM! Here’s another sinigang variation that you might want to try. I usually cook Sinigang na Isda using Green Mangoes. The big fish heads are just right for this. I just add onion, sliced green mangoes, green finger chilies and salt. I find that if you add tomatoes, it affects the flavor a lot. After simmering for 15 minutes or so, I then add the fish heads and chilies then turn off the fire. The fish usually cooks by itself in 5 minutes or so. What results is a savory fish sinigang thats not too “fishy”. Perfect with some patis on the side. Kangkong may also be added but I would suggest that it be cooked separately since kangkong also imparts its own flavor.

  21. it seems there are many souring agents for sinigang.

    my tita says that my their lola uses (baby)pakwan and (green)kamatis.

    my mom also uses green mangoes(kalabaw).

  22. Sad to say, MM, in my years in the US, I havent stumbled upon any frozen santol or even jarred or canned ones. I had lots of fond memories with this fruit as a child as we had big trees of santol in our yard. When I go to my grandma’s, there were even bigger santol trees that probably been there for a number of decades.

  23. Oh, and also, there was a friend from Batangas who taught me how to eat santol the way they would eat it in their town. At first I thought it was bizarre but I tried it and I got hooked to it. She would peel off the skin, cut the meat into sections, pour some white vinegar into a saucer, put some rock salt and dip the santol into it. Take a bite, and wow! I thought that was a bad idea, but after a few bites, I got hooked. The vinegar made the santol taste a lot sweeter even if the santol you got is not sweet.

  24. MM, sinigang with kamias as souring agent is also good. but back to santol..i’ve tasted many times a bicolano dish of ginataang santol. i think the santol is grated and sauteed with a little pork, bagoong, coconut milk and chilis. i hope somebody posts a recipe of that soon, since my santol tree in the backyard is due to be harvested anytime now.

  25. Santol is also used as a souring agent for puffer fish, a delicacy that is popular in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. It is called burereng in local dialect and only available for non-toxic consumption from the months of June to August (hubby says that during puffer fish season, all the chicken and meat vendors complain :P). Puffer fish is cooked in layers with butter, onions, tomatoes, cubed santol flesh, libas leaves and the entire concoction is drizzled with soy sauce. It is slowly cooked to perfection without stirring to avoid mashing the fish. Puffer fish used for this dish is small…around the length of the middle segment of an index finger. You cut off the tail before you eat then chew out the bones. It leaves a rich impression on one’s palate but personally, it’s an acquired taste.

    PS Claude Tayag’s book, Food Trip, would contain a recipe of KBL (kadyos, baboy, langka) with batwan (I read your articles on these two as well). I find the book useful, especially if one plans to discover the beauty of our country’s 7,107 islands thru its cuisine :). Lots of travel tips, culinary adventures (and misadventures) and a documentary of his roro trip across the archipelago.

  26. MM, I gotta back Millet up on this one. My grandma is Bicolana and I never tire of her ginataang santol. It’s really good kamayan food, specially if you eat it with steaming hot rice and galunggong. Unfortunately my grandma is getting a bit forgetful and can’t tell me the exact recipe (or maybe it’s a secret, heck I dunno.) Hope you could feature your own version of this recipe.

  27. Santol is also used as a souring agent for puffer fish, a delicacy that is popular in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. It is called burereng in local dialect and only available for non-toxic consumption from the months of June to August (hubby says that during puffer fish season, all the chicken and meat vendors complain :P).

    Dear Rona

    Kindly advice what is the name of the small puffer fish used in the dish burereng. I saw that on the Life on a Plate , Tablescape program. Thank you




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