It’s sinigang na ulo ng isda in Filipino. This fish head miso soup is cooked with miso quite different from the Japanese kind. The delicious sour broth is seasoned with fresh tamarind juice.
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).
- 1 cup tamarind juice
- 1 bunch mustard leaves root ends cut off
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1/2 head garlic peeled and minced
- 2 shallots peeled and finely sliced
- 2 to 3 tomatoes diced
- 1/4 cup yellow miso
- patis (fish sauce) to taste
- 1 fish head salmon, talakitok or maya-maya, about 500 grams in weight, split open and gills removed
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. For the illustrated version, see how to extract tamarind juice.
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, shallots and tomatoes until they start to soften. Add the miso and continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft. Pour in about four cups of water. Season with salt or fish sauce. Add the fish head. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour in the tamarind juice. Add more salt or fish sauce, 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.