Sinigang is a Filipino dish of tamarind broth (and vegetables) with either pork, beef, shrimp, fish, and even chicken. Sinigang na Hipon is the shrimp version. A sour broth with shrimp, the closest one might think of is probably the Thai soup Tom Yum Goong, which is close, but very different because of their love of herbs, and that that’s made sour by lime juice.
I love sinigang and I love shrimps, but that doesn’t always equal to I love Sinigang na Hipon. For one, I feel like it’s so basic. I have not had a mindblowing Sinigang na Hipon. If you read most recipes, it’s just mostly boil this, add that, serve…which makes for an uninterestingly, very common outcome.
If you order from restaurants, it almost always tastes like three separate items put together:
- Sinigang soup base (water and sinigang mix, most of the time),
- the shrimp, either cooked separately or added when the soup base has been reheated and is ready for service, and
- 3) vegetables boiled separately.
And that sucks because an order of Sinigang na Hipon would usually cost you upwards of 300 pesos, for a mere five pieces of shrimp in it!
Nevertheless, I still wanted to make one because it was easy, and also that I miss sinigang but didn’t want to have pork. In my head, I wanted to achieve three things:
- Keep my kangkong stems crunchy
- NOT overcook my shrimp
- Make a flavorful shrimpy tamarind broth
I thought about the second and third goals, and realized that these two contradict each other when it comes to cooking time. Shrimps cook in a matter of minutes, yet a flavorful broth requires simmering ’til all the flavors come out.
Most of the sinigang na hipon recipes will boil onions and everything else, and leave adding shrimp (with head on) at the last minute, therefore just getting heavy on the tamarind broth and lacking in shrimp taste.
I need to make shrimp stock.
One of the things Filipino homecooks aren’t used to is making stock. We don’t have the habit of saving carcasses, boiling them, and storing stock in the fridge.
I seriously felt like a genius. But maybe it’s just me, adulting.
For this recipe, I beheaded (ow, that sounds gory) the shrimps, and made shrimp stock before it became sinigang. My husband won’t believe me that I didn’t put any shrimp bouillon cube! I also blanched my kangkong because I really hate them turning mushy and lifeless in soups.
I lessened the sourness compared to how I’d usually make it, and it brought out the sweetness of the shrimps. Hope you like it!
Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimp in Tamarind Broth)
If you like radishes in your sinigang, add and cook with your soup base. Some also like it with sitaw and okra. Add if you like 🙂
- 6-8 large shrimps, head separated from body
- 1 small white onion, quartered
- 2 small ripe tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tbsp good quality fish sauce
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 bunch kangkong (water spinach)
- 1 sili pangsigang (finger chili)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 pack 10g sinigang mix
- In a small pot, heat cooking oil, sauté onions and tomatoes until onions are translucent. Add shrimp heads and sauté until pink. Add water, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- While that’s going on, trim kangkong stems, discard tough ends (about 2 inches), cut edible part to 1 1/2 inch stems. Separate leaves. Put stems in a mixing bowl and blanche with hot water for about 30 seconds, or until cooked the way you like it. Rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside.
- Add sinigang mix, fish sauce and sili pangsigang to the simmering pot, and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust to liking. (If you don’t like shrimp heads, you can remove it before the next step.)
- Add beheaded shrimps to the pot, and simmer for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add blanched kangkong stems, and kangkong leaves. Cover for another two minutes before serving. Serve with a side sauce of fish sauce with chopped siling labuyo (thai or bird’s eye chili).