As I’ve been pretty sick these past two weeks and my stomach has been very particular of late, I’ve been finding comfort in light, refreshing soups such as this sinigang na baka. I cooked a hefty pot on Thursday and it’s all I’ve been eating these last couple of days. With fork-tender meat, crisp vegetables and a tamarind-thick broth, sinigang is something I don’t mind having over and over, for days on end.
Although I add a myriad of vegetables~from tomatoes, okra, eggplant to long beans and pechay~to my sinigang na baboy, I prefer my sinigang na baka the my mother prepared it for us when we were growing up. Her sinigang was but a simple affair of kangkong, labanos and gabi, giving more emphasis to a perfectly-sour broth made extra flavorful by gently simmered bone-rich beef ribs.
Sinigang na Baka
- 3 pounds beef short ribs
- 10 cups water
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 6 gabi, peeled and halved depending on size
- 2 finger chilies
- 1 (6 inches) radish (labanos), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick on a bias
- 15 large tamarind pieces or 1 1/2 (1.41 ounces each) packages tamarind base powder
- 1 bunch kangkong
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a pot over medium heat, combine beef ribs and water. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top.
- When the broth has cleared, add onions and fish sauce.
- Lower heat, cover and cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is fork-tender.
- Add gabi and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until soft.
- Add chili and radish. Continue to simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Trim about 2 inches from the kangkong stalks and discard. Cut kangkong into 3-inch lengths, separating the sturdier stalks from the leaves.
- If using packaged tamarind base, add into the pot and stir until completely dissolved. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add kangkong and continue to cook for about 1 minute. Serve hot.
If Using Fresh Tamarind
- Wash tamarind and place in a pot with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and outer skins begin to burst.
- With a fork, mash tamarinds.
- In a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, pour tamarind and liquid. Continue to mash with a fork, returning some of the liquid into the strainer once or twice, to fully extract the juice.
- Discard seeds and skins. Pour tamarind juice into the sinigang.