Monday, October 10, 2011

"Traditional" || "Tilapia Sinigang"

I'll just put it out upfront: this post is going to be disjointed. There's a link I've been meaning to post for some time now but haven't had a good opportunity, and won't for some time, so I'll just do it now.

I stumbled on this blog a while ago, and it looks like a fantastic resource for Traditional Chinese Recipes--which is also the name of the blog. He really seems to know what he's doing. He also has a really good bit on traditional versus "authentic" as well as mapping out how "Chinese food" in America came to be greasy-stir-fried-mixed-things. I completely agree with him (I had a little paragraph against obsession with "authenticity" in one of my earlier posts) and am glad now to have the word "traditional" to use instead of "authentic". Hmm, it looks like the author, John Sinclair aka "Chef Wang", might self-identify as being Chinese more than White American. I wonder why he's "Chef Wang"... In any case, I'm definitely planning on trying out some of his recipes.

--abrupt transition--

Yeah, I'm not even going to try to swing a transition.

I find that bad recipes annoy me, but this one--well, the terrible recipe that made me develop the recipe that made this dish--was particularly annoying. Probably because for some reason it had 4.5/5 stars averaged over many reviews, but was really bad, in taste and technique, both. I just can't understand why it was rated so highly (and I'm assuming no foul play). The recipe was for tilapia sinigang, which is a Filipino sour soup with tilapia in this case. The soup was just sour and thin, lacking body and any savoriness like it should have. And what really got me was the just plain wrong directions on what to do with the fish. It was solidly overcooked and tough.

Sincere apologies if any of my recipes have been disappointing. I can think of some that may have been. However, no one's saying that my recipes are 4.5/5 stars. I'm not going to link the original recipe that got me to make this redo. Granted, the recipe was apparently "very simple and quick". I imagine the creator used it as quick, weeknight kind of food.

In any case, I made some modifications: replaced the water with a mixture of chicken stock and water, added browned onions, a touch of fish sauce at the end,  and made sure not to overcook the fish. If you're not going to stew fish for a long time, then you've only got to cook it for a minute or a minute-and-a-half (more if it's thicker cut) before it's done. Any longer and it'll dry and toughen up. However, if you get it just right, the fish will be tender and, in tilapia's case, creamy.

I probably made mine somewhat less sour than sinigang should be--more in line with Taiwanese sour soups. Or at least what we'd have at home as I was growing up. I don't know if it's a Taiwanese thing. There are sour soups in many Asian cuisines.

Erg, I don't have time to type my recipe up this time...sorry! I've got a mass of notes and amendments on my printout of that other recipe. Man, but my revision was good...if I may say so myself, haha.


  1. I find that writing recipes is difficult as I make changes constantly and have no idea what quantities I'm using. It used to bug me that my mom never wrote her recipes, but now I understand. :-) I've never known what to do with tilapia but this sounds interesting. Maybe when you get a chance to solidify this one, you can post the recipe! :-)

  2. Heheh, yeah, it's a bit of a hassle to track the amounts of things when you're just experimenting. But for this one, the amounts and process were all written down--I just have a lot to handle between school, work, and food prep. Oh, I can just add it as an edit to this post later. I'll let ya know-