Sinigang (Tamarind Broth With Pork and Vegetables)
This is the soup that made me like vegetables when I was growing up. You always measure sinigang by sourness, which is so much a part of our cuisine — layers of acid coming from vinegar, fresh citrus, tamarind and unripe fruits. Here, sour is a power move, hitting you all the way at the back of your tongue. Whole serrano chiles bring a low-frequency spicy hum, adding not so much heat as depth. The daikon should be left in big, juicy chunks, so when you bite into them, you get an unexpected touch of coolness in the hot broth.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 2tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
- 12whole garlic cloves, crushed
- 2pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, excess fat trimmed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2cups Vietnamese concentrated cooking tamarind (“nuoc me chua”), or 1 (14-ounce) block tamarind paste, liquefied (see Tip)
- 2medium yellow onions, halved from tip to tip, then each half cubed into 4 quarters
- ¼cup fish sauce
- 2whole serrano chiles
- 1daikon (1 3/4 pounds), peeled and sliced into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- ½pound long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1Japanese eggplant (about 5 ounces), sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 2medium tomatoes, halved, then each half cubed into 4 quarters
- 10ounces baby spinach (about 8 packed cups)
- ½cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
- Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
Step 1In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook until toasted, 1 minute. Add the pork, season with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the tamarind, onion, fish sauce, serrano chiles and 10 cups water, and bring to a boil over high.
Step 2Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the pork is softened but not fully tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Step 3Stir in the daikon, cover and continue to simmer until daikon is tender and the pork is yielding, about 30 minutes.
Step 4Uncover and discard the chiles. Add the long beans, eggplant, tomatoes and spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Step 5Stir in the lemon juice. Serve over rice.