Kilawin or kinilaw is a Filipino dish with meat or seafood is marinated in citrus juices which pickle the seafood or meat and turn it opaque. The Latin American version is called ceviche; the Polynesian version, the national dish of Tahiti, is poisson cru.
Some recipes use vinegar or a combination of vinegar and citrus juice. I prefer pure citrus juice. I also add coconut cream. If you’ve never used coconut milk before, it has a natural sweetness that balances the acidity of the citrus juice and mellows the heat of the chilies.
Although tuna is the fish most commonly used for making kilawin, most fleshy fish like gindara, lapu-lapu and mahi-mahi are just as good. I’m even planning on using salmon fillets next time.
Why the two names — kinilaw and kilawin? The first is an adjective; the second is a verb. They come from the same root word — kilaw.
- 500 grams skinless boneless gindara fillets
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons rock salt
- 3 lemons
- 1 red onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and grated
- 1 thumb-sized piece ginger peeled and grated
- 3 whole chili picante or any mild finger chili, cut into thin rings
- 1 pimiento seeded, deveined and cut into thin strips
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons onion leaves finely sliced, for garnish
Wash the fish well. Cut into one-inch cubes. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl and toss with the salt. Squeeze the juice from two lemons. Add the juice to the fish and mix well. Cover the bowl and allow the fish to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Drain the fish, squeezing lightly. Place in a clean bowl. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon and add to the fish. Mix lightly. Add the grated garlic and ginger, chilis, pimiento strips and onion slices. Toss everything together. Pour in the coconut cream. Stir lightly. Top with the onion leaves and serve.