Sinigang na hipon (shrimp in sour soup)

The freshness of this simple sour broth, so typical of Filipino cuisine, allows the seafood to be the star of the dish. This recipe was made during my cookery lesson with Oscar and Gregg booked through Traveling Spoon. We used fresh shrimp (prawns) purchased at a local fish market in Manila but you can use any fish instead – or add fish to this recipe alongside the shrimp for a heartier meal. The addition of fish heads, which are considered to be full of flavour, is also very popular.

Fresh shrimp cooked in a simple sour broth with vegetables


1kg of fresh shrimp (prawns) or other fish
6 large tomatoes
1 onion
1 large horse radish or mooli
1 large or 2 small leeks
A 2cm piece of ginger
6 mild green chillis
A sachet of tamarind power or 1tsp of tamarind paste (more if you like it sour!)
Water from washing your rice*
Plenty of salt and pepper

* Top tip: use the water from washing your rice to cook the vegetables, it will help to thicken the soup and add taste. If you are worried about dust and pesticides or preservatives then use the water from the second rinse instead

Ingredients for the sinigang broth – except for the garlic and the oil which are both interlopers!


First prepare your shrimp. The amount of effort involved will depend on the size of the shrimps and where you bought them from. Ours were purchased from one of Manila’s many fish markets so we brought them home packed in ice and then had to remove a very sharp spike on the head and another on the tail. Smaller shrimps don’t have these. We didn’t devein our shrimp but it’s easy enough to do if you prefer. Obviously if you purchase your shrimp from a supermarket none of these steps may be needed. But so buy and cook whole if possible, the dish will have a lot more flavour and is much more interest to eat – if messier!

Next prepare the ingredients for your broth.

Roughly chop the onion and tomatoes and slice the ginger. Place in a large pan with around a litre and a half of rice water and plenty of salt and pepper – you can always add more liquid later if needed. Leave to boil for a round 45 minutes and then mash roughly with a potato masher and strain well (we didn’t but the versions I’ve seen subsequently are prettier witha clear broth). Return to the pan. Cut the radish and leeks into roughly equal pieces around 2cm long and add to the broth with the tamarind power or paste. Boil for a further 10 minutes.

Finally add the shrimp and chillis to cook through for the last 5 minutes.

And there you have it, sinigang na hipon, a classic Filipino sour soup made with shrimp in this case but the base for many other dishes involving fish. Serve with rice and fish for a main meal, on its own for a lunch. I’m going to try to get hold of some tamarind powder before I leave the Philippines but I’m reliably informed that this is easily purchased from most Asian stores. I’m also going to add pak choi or similar to the next version I make as I like my veggies!

Kain na! (Tagalog for ‘eat well’)

We ate our sinigang na hipon with rice and deep fried lapu-lapu, also purchased from the local fish market

PS. I described the garlic and oil as interlopers in my photo above but in fact I’ve just found a version of this recipe that specifically recommends the addition of a Filipinized gremolata, a mildly modified version of the Italian condiment made with parsley, lemon zest, and fried—instead of raw—garlic. Apparently this will give an extra zing. Definately one for me to try when I get home to Italy!

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