Pork and Rhubarb Sinigang

RhubarbSinigang

The Filipino sour soup known as Sinigang can contain any variety of meats, poultry and seafood, and is typically studded with a variety of local vegetables. Depending on the region of the Philippines, a range of native fruits can be used to give Sinigang its trademark tang. And although vinegar is a vital ingredient in Filipino cooking, it is never used as a souring agent for Sinigang.

The typical souring agents that can be used include unripe tamarind pods and leaves, kamias (a very sour green fruit pod native to the Philippines), guava, starfruit, tomatoes, as well as lemon, calamansi and dayap (another variety of Philippine lime).

But since Rhubarb is so plentiful this time of year in my neck of the woods (and also because tamarind, kamias, guava, starfruit and dayap don’t grow in my neck of the woods), I decided to try and use the sour red stalks to bring the tang for a Pork Sinigang.

Rhubarb? In soup? Yes. And it works wonderfully! Although rhubarb is typically used in desserts, a savory Sinigang application isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Besides lending the necessary sourness for a proper Sinigang, rhubarb also provides a nice crunchy texture in much the same way that daikon or taro traditionally would in the Filipino sour soup.

And besides, using Rhubarb in Sinigang will trip out even the most palate-progressive of all your Filipino friends. It’s a culinary curveball!


Rhubarb

“rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb”

In fact, I myself was hesitant with this experiment. But after my first bite, the rhubarb quickly reminded me of a Fish Sinigang soured with Kamias that I had in the Philippines a few years back. So, plop a bowl of this sour, ruby-studded soup in front of the most hardened of Sinigang purists and they’ll quickly come to believe in the savory souring power of rhubarb.

Pork and Rhubarb Sinigang

To make this Sinigang, you will need a total of 1-1/2 pounds of fresh rhubarb. 1 pound will be needed for the broth, and the other 1/2 pound will be chopped and added to the soup at the last minute to provide more sourness and texture. When buying rhubarb, choose long, slender, and firm stalks that are deep red in color.

I also used boneless country-style pork ribs in this recipe, but regular pork spareribs would work great, but so would shrimp or even salmon. Sinigang be flexible, folks.

Serves 4-6

For the broth:
1 pound fresh rhubarb
8 cups water

For the soup:
1.5 pounds cubed pork (I used boneless country-style pork ribs)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
2 mild yellow chili peppers, pierced through with a knife
1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Fresh greens, such as chopped bok choy, kangkong, or spinach (I used spinach)
Lemon wedges, or kalamansi halves, for serving

To make the rhubarb broth, trim away and discard any leaves from the rhubarb stalks (the leaves are toxic). Roughly chop the rhubarb into about 1-inch chunks. Add the rhubarb chunks, along with the 8 cups of water, to a large pot over high heat. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the rhubarb is completely soft, 10-15 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mash the rhubarb in the sieve to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the rhubarb pulp and set the broth aside.

To make the soup, season the cubed pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over moderately high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork to the pot and brown on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Brown the pork in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pot.

Transfer the browned pork to a large platter and set aside. Add the onions to the pot and cook until soft and wilted, 2-3 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook until just beginning to brown, 1-2 minutes. Return the browned pork to the pot, along with any accumulated juices from the platter. Pour in the rhubarb broth, stirring the bottom of the pot to scrape up any browned bits. Stir in the fish sauce, chili peppers and the tomatoes. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pork is tender, 45-60 minutes.

Taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning as necessary with more fish sauce.

Rhubarb2

During the last 10 minutes of cooking stir in the chopped 1/2 pound of rhubarb and simmer until the rhubarb is tender, but not mushy, 5-10 minutes. If using bok choy, add it at the same time as the rhubarb. If using greens that wilt more quickly, like spinach, just stir it in at the last second after you’ve removed the soup from the heat.

Serve the Sinigang with lemon wedges or kalamansi halves on the side, to adjust the sourness as needed. Also serve alongside steamed white rice.

 

Pork Sinigang Soured with Rhubarb

  • lyn May 28, 2012, 11:48 pm

    where did you bought rhubarb?

    Reply
  • leah May 29, 2012, 10:03 am

    Brilliant! Or should I say genius?
    I’ve always wondered if cranberries can be used as souring agent for sinigang. But I’m always afraid my family will not be open to such a crazy idea. Perhaps you can do the experiment for me. :-)

    Reply
  • Beth May 29, 2012, 11:57 am

    I rarely get impressed by modifications on traditional preparations, but this is very nice. Simple but innovative, and not trying too hard.

    Reply
  • Vicky May 29, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Yes, you are freakin’ brilliant! I will use your recipe for my Iron Chef cooking party this weekend. The theme ingredient is Rhubarb!

    Reply
  • shannon May 29, 2012, 1:11 pm

    mmmmm…two of my favorite things: pork and rhubarb! They go nicely together in basic stir fry, so I think they will play very nicely together in this soup! Will have to give it a try…thanks for the idea!

    Reply
  • Michelle May 29, 2012, 9:59 pm

    Total genius! I’ve always been curious about rhubarb though I’ve never had the opportunity to try it. Wow that’s pretty awesome.

    Reply
  • Katrina May 30, 2012, 12:59 pm

    I see you’re as creative (and crazy) as ever, Marvin! :-)

    Reply
  • jean May 31, 2012, 9:19 am

    Da-yum! And I didn’t come up with this , why?!?!?
    Brilliant Marvin!

    Reply
  • Row May 31, 2012, 11:09 pm

    Crazy cool, man! Major props. :)

    Reply
  • Jeff M June 7, 2012, 6:50 pm

    hey marvin, the use of rhubarbs as souring agent for sinigang was GENIUS!!!
    :)

    Reply
  • tndcallphilippines June 7, 2012, 7:36 pm

    I dont think Rhubarb grows in my neck of the woods, but if i see some available in the market… i would like to give this a try. :)

    Reply
  • Fresh Filipino Bouillabaisse Seafood June 8, 2012, 2:09 am

    Rhubarb in sinigang? I should try your version of sinigang.

    Reply
  • Aileen@kitchenkwento June 10, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Oh. My. I am so excited to see this recipe! It makes so much surprising good sense. My strategies for making seasonal sinigang have used greens I can grow in the area, but have been foiled by the need, love for and availability of tamarind. We have so much rhubarb on the farm i’m working at and I can’t face another rhubarb pie…so I’m going to try this asap. Rhubarb universe expanded. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Leoj October 19, 2015, 6:22 am

      Do you still have rhubarb?

      Reply
    • Erika Alcantara October 21, 2015, 5:46 am

      Hi! May i know where the farm youre working at is located? We badly and urgently need it for our thesis. It would be a big help if you could reply asap. Thank you!

      Reply
  • oscar June 11, 2012, 8:29 am

    I once saw on tv (Jessica Soho, I think), sinigang with strawberry from Baguio. So I’m not surprised with your rhubarb sinigang.
    Cheers man! I’ve been following your blog for years.

    Reply
  • joey June 15, 2012, 5:48 am

    Genius! Sinigang can be maed with anything that can sour it I think :) I am all for experimentation…I wish I could give it a try, unfortunately no rhubarb in my neck of the woods 😉

    Reply
  • Rowi June 25, 2012, 6:17 am

    I love rhubarb but only use it to make desserts and cordials! This is brilliant! I’ll try your recipe and also might experiment with salmon, which is easily available in my neck of the woods.

    Reply
  • Food Recipes July 3, 2012, 4:04 am

    These days i am trying to avoid pork, but yes your recipe is delicious and mouth watering !

    Reply
  • Wilmar Dumaop July 8, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Thanks for posting this!
    After reading this, I HAD to try using rhubarb for my sinigang souring agent. GENIUS. My sinigang turned out pretty legit!
    Here’s my report: http://www.wilmarworksout.com/2012/07/rhubarb-sinigang.html

    Reply
  • Scott October 15, 2012, 10:51 am

    I’m going to try this with rhubarb from my garden. Am I correct in assuming you removed the chili peppers before serving? They would need to be chopped up if they were intended to end up in the bowl.

    Reply
  • cocktail bellini November 27, 2012, 6:20 pm

    Prepared this last night for a family get-together and they absolutely loved it. All your hard work is worth it when you see your family enjoying what you’ve fixed for them Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

    Reply
  • phlebotomy training February 6, 2013, 11:26 pm

    Fantastic work man, keep your heads high you did it.

    Reply
  • Maternity fashion February 8, 2013, 11:28 pm

    The quality of your blogs and articles and worth appreciating.

    Reply
  • Sam0291 January 27, 2014, 6:29 am

    Hi Marvin! Where did you buy rhubarb? It would be such great help for me in the competition. Thanks,

    Reply
  • Erika alcantara October 21, 2015, 5:44 am

    Hi, may i know where you bought the rhubarb? We badly need it for our thesis. Thank you!

    Reply

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