Sinigang na ulo ng isda sa miso (fish head sour soup with miso) |

Sinigang na ulo ng isda sa miso (fish head sour soup with miso)

Miso is a paste made by fermenting rice, barley or soybeans with salt and a mold. In Philippine cuisine, it is used for the dipping sauce that accompanies pesa. It is also used for sinigang.

There are many varieties of miso but in the local markets, you will usually find only two kinds. One is off-white, the kind used for the pesa sauce. The other is yellow used for sinigang.

Kanduli, a relative of the hito (catfish) is traditionally associated with sinigang sa miso. But large kanduli is not always easy to find in the wet markets. I was craving for sinigang sa miso a couple of days ago and I decided that fish head would do. Aside from that, I retained all the traditional ingredients including mustasa (mustard leaves).

Ingredients :

1 fish head (salmon, talakitok or maya-maya), about 500 grams in weight, split open and gills removed
half a head of garlic, peeled and minced
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. of yellow miso
1 c. of tamarind extract
a bunch of mustard leaves, root ends cut off
2 tbsps. of cooking oil
salt or patis

Cooking procedure :

For the tamarind extract, place a cup to a cup and a half of young tamarinds in a small pan. Pour in about a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the tamarinds are soft and pulpy. Mash the tamarinds in the water and strain.

To remove the excess bitterness of the mustard leaves, soak in water for around 15 minutes (thank to Tita Laura for the tip) OR blanch in boiling water from a minute, douse with cold water and drain.

Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Saute the garlic, onion and tomatoes until they start to soften. Add the miso and continue sauteeing until the vegetables are soft. Pour in about five cups of water. Season with salt or patis. Add the fish head. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour in the tamarind extract. Add more salt or patis, if necessary. Add the mustard leaves. Simmer for a minute longer if the mustard leaves have been blanched; if not, for about three minutes more.

Serve at once.


  1. says

    *sigh* the only tamarind i’ve seen near me is in candied form. i’m going to try adding miso anyway when i cook sinigang w/ the powdered mix.

    are you familiar w/ the other Mama Sita sinigang product in paste form in a jar? it’s supposedly tamarind paste. i’ve seen those at some filipino markets. would that be a good substitute for the tamarind paste you describe in this recipe?

  2. says

    Oh, I’ve tried that. Mama Sita sends me package of their products every Christmas hehehe The paste is better than the powdered sinigang mix.

  3. says

    I tried this using Imelda fish and dalagang bukid (lapad). Came out ok. A few years ago I was able to sample a fantastic Sinigang na Ulo ng Kanduli sa Miso in a small carinderia in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Honestly, I haven’t tasted anything better since. Maybe because the kanduli was freshly caught. It was so good, I polished off maybe 2 cups of rice with it :)

  4. Marnie says

    I use a Japanese brand yellow miso for fish head sinigang and it’s really good, even better than the frozen yellow miso we get from the Filipino shop here. The Japanese brand red miso is also great for making the dipping sauce for pesa. The only problem I have with these substitutes is that they come in 500 ml tubs or packets. A tub lasts for more than a year if kept in the coolest part of the fridge. I can’t remember the brand because I just recently finished both red and yellow miso and tossed the empty packets out without taking note of the name. I still have to buy a fresh supply.

  5. says

    letto, there are times when literal translation ruins the essence of the original. this is one such time. and since this is cooking, the essence of the dish is more important that a more grammatically accurate translation.

    Kongkong, I used to love Imelda fish until one time when a batch a I bought tasted of mud. Then we discovered that a lot of Imelda fish sold in Metro Manila are from the Pasig River. :shock:

  6. arvin says

    i am cooking miso for the first tym today and i am just basing my procedures from this site. hope it turns out ok. btw, m just using knorr sinigang sa miso mix. just so to cut the time boiling sampaloc. my fingers are crossed. wish me luck! hehe

  7. says

    Someone gave me fish heads and I’m going to try your recipe using knorr sinigang mix I bought from a Filipino store. I am omitting miso as it is not available here, will it make a difference without it? thanks for the recipe.

  8. Rinz says

    Hi Connie,

    Is there anyway I can make my own miso? There’s no available miso here in my place but I am really craving with your sinigang sa miso. NAKAKAGUTOM ang picture…..hayy!

    By the way, another question of mine….2-3 years ago may nabili akong miso sa market sa cavite. The taste and odor is so awful. Mabaho. Could you please give us some points on how to get a good one.

    Thanks and more power to your website.

    • says

      Miso is a by product of soy beans. So unless you have soy beans and you know how to process them, I don’t see how you can make your own miso.

      When buying in the market, since miso is not prepacked, smell it first. Should smell something like tokwa.

  9. says

    For meatless Fridays,this is my fave recipe!I’m glad I came back to this because I missed some of the steps.My mustasa tasted a little bitter, but now I know. Thanks Connie!

  10. kaying says

    madam connie i found out some people they used LELUT ( over cooked rice) for soup of the miso… is this possible…

    • Connie says

      The starchy water in which rice has been washed is traditionally used for sinigang broth. I’ve never heard of lelut.

  11. Nikki says

    I cooked sinigang na ulo ng salmon for the first time today. My husband and office mates came for lunch and were full of praises! Thanks so much for posting!

  12. bkbaker says

    hi ms. connie! i really like your website. mapa-baking or ulam, nandito na lahat! i have a pack of salmon head and 2 packs of sinigang sa miso mix (the 25g packs). ang questions ko are (1) should i use 2 packs or just one? first time ko magluluto ng may miso bka hindi sha maasim (i like my sinigang super asim) then (2) i honestly don’t know how mustasa leaves look like and ang hirap bumili dito i don’t know how they call it here…pwede kaya kangkong leaves na lang? thanks!!!

    • Connie says

      How much soup mix depends on the weight of the salmon head and how much broth you like.

      Kangkong will be fine.