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.