If there is one good thing that came out of our not-so-good Foodtrip Marikina experience, it was finding ideas for new dishes or new takes on old dishes that can be cooked at home. There was a stall with salmon sinigang risotto in its menu (sorry, we didn’t pay attention to the name of the stall), we didn’t try it (we wanted meat, meat and meat that night) but Alex and I agreed that we were going to make our version soon.
For those of you who are not familiar with sinigang, it is a vegetable soup accompanied by meat or seafood with the broth flavored with the juice of a sour fruit (tamarind, guava and kamias are popular choices). We Filipinos love to douse our rice with sinigang broth and eat the meat / seafood and vegetables as the main course.
This salmon sinigang risotto is an application of that practice of mixing rice with sinigang broth. Instead of cooking the rice separately, it is cooked in sinigang broth which makes it an integral part of the dish. Alex did a great job with this dish.
For best results, go over the tutorial on how to make risotto before cooking this dish.
- 6 salmon heads (ask the fish monger to split them in half)
- patis (fish sauce)
- 2 eggplants, diced
- a bunch of kangkong (water spinach), cut up and separated into stalks and leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 to 3 tomatoes, diced
- 1 finger chili, chopped
- 1 cup medium-grain rice (we use Japanese rice in place of the more expensive arborio)
- ¼ cup sweet rice wine
- ¾ cup tamarind extract
- Rinse the salmon heads well than place is a large pot. Pour in about eight cups of water and two tablespoons of patis. Bring to the boil (remove any scum that rises). Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer the salmon heads for three minutes. Scoop out the salmon heads, move to plate and cool.
- Into the simmering broth, add the diced eggplants. Cook for five minutes then scoop out and set aside.
- Next, add the kangkong stalks to the simmering broth. Cook for two minutes then add the kangkong leaves. Cook for another two minutes then scoop out and set aside.
- Pick the flesh from the salmon heads; discard the bones.
- Reheat the broth until simmering.
- In another pan, heat the olive oil. Saute the garlic, onion, tomatoes and finger chili until softened and fragrant.
- Turn up the heat to high. Add the rice to the sauteed vegetables. Stir to coat each grain with oil. Pour in the rice wine and stir. Allow to boil until the mixture is almost dry.
- Add broth, a cup at a time, stirring all the while. As the the broth is absorbed by the rice, add another cup with constant stirring to release the starch in the rice. This is what makes risotto wonderfully creamy.
- Midway through the cooking, add the tamarind extract to the broth. Season with more salt or patis to balance the flavor. Bring the broth to simmering point.
- Continue cooking the risotto by adding broth and stirring until the rice is cooked through but with a slight resistance at the center of the grain. Think pasta al dente; you're applying the same principle here.
- Dump the kangkong, eggplants and salmon into the hot broth. Turn off the heat. You're just reheating them so that every component of the salmon sinigang risotto is hot when you serve it.
- Ladle the risotto into bowls. Top with kangkong, eggplants and salmon. Serve hot.