Why It Works
- Roasting the tomatoes and peppers deepens their flavor.
- Layering tart ingredients like tamarind and calamansi juice creates a more complex flavor.
- Garlic is deployed in three forms—fresh, powdered, and fried—for even more depth.
This rich and tart stew is one of the classics of the Filipino kitchen. Many variations exist, but this one features tender chunks of pork in a broth made sour with tamarind and calamansi (a type of citrus) juice. Hearty vegetables like taro and daikon radish add heft while others, like roasted green beans and (optionally) okra, garnish it. All of the specialty Filipino ingredients in this recipe can be ordered online, including bottled calamansi juice, though frozen calamansi is even better, so if you live near a Filipino market, we recommend shopping there.
Feel free to use this recipe as a jumping-off point. A fish version can be made by stewing salmon heads, collars, and steaks in place of the pork. You can also play with other methods of souring the soup instead of the tamarind; rhubarb, lemon, guava, or tomatillo each would add an interesting twist.
- 1 pound (450g; about 3) plum tomatoes
- 2 whole, fresh long green peppers (4 ounces; 115g total)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) canola or other neutral oil
- 1 head of garlic (12 about medium cloves), peeled and minced
- 1 small (6-ounce; 170g) red onion, finely diced
- 1 scallion, white part finely chopped, green part sliced thinly on a bias, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds (680g) boneless, skinless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 32 ounces (945ml) tamarind concentrate (see note)
- One 1.41-ounce pack Knorr sinigang tamarind soup mix
- 1 small daikon radish (about 1 pound), peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rounds
- 1 small taro root (about 6 ounces), peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick rounds (see note)
- 1/2 pound (225g) fresh okra (optional), caps trimmed, pods cut in half on a bias
- 6 ounces (170g) long green beans or string beans, stem ends trimmed and beans cut into 2-inch lengths
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (60ml) calamansi juice, or as much as desired (see note)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce, or as much as desired
- Fried garlic, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Set whole tomatoes on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast until skins split and are browned in spots, about 25 minutes. When cool enough to handle, core and quarter tomatoes. Set aside.
Working directly over the flame of a gas burner, or on a rimmed baking sheet under the broiler (as close to the broiler element as possible), roast green peppers, turning often, until the skin of each is blistered and charred over about half its area. Transfer to a work surface, remove and discard stems, then chop flesh, skin, and seeds.
In a large 7-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add minced fresh garlic, red onion, chopped scallion whites, chopped peppers, and pork and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown on the bottom, about 10 minutes.
Add 4 quarts (4 liters) water, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot. Stir in tamarind concentrate and tamarind soup mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Add tomatoes, daikon, and taro root, then continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss okra, if using, and green beans in coconut oil and garlic powder; season with salt. Spread okra and green beans on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Working in small additions, add fish sauce and calamansi juice to soup until desired flavor is reached; you want it mouth-puckeringly sour but balanced with a clear (but not unpleasant) saltiness.
Serve soup, dividing ingredients among bowls and topping with the roasted green beans (and okra, if using), thinly sliced scallion greens, and a sprinkling of fried garlic.
Large (7-quart) Dutch oven
Wear rubber gloves when peeling and cutting taro root, as it can stain hands. If possible, try to buy frozen calamansi juice from a well-stocked Asian or Filipino market; it has better flavor than bottled options. Tamarind concentrate often comes in 16-ounce containers; make sure to use two of that size for a total of 32 ounces.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The stew and roasted vegetable garnishes can be refrigerated separately for up to 5 days. Reheat the stew on the stovetop and the vegetable garnish in the oven (or even a toaster oven) before serving.