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Apong Meling's Sinigang #SoupSwappers

Here we are at the fourth event of 2021 for our Soup Saturday Swappers group. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and, every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile. This month, Sid of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking is hosting.

She chose a theme of 'Soup to Celebrate Your Ancestry.' Sid encouraged: "Share a soup that provides a link to your ancestry. Some of us are going to have many countries from which to choose."

Apong Meling

Since both my parents immigrated from the Philippines, my ancestry is pretty easy to define. But I considered the ancestry of my kids and thought about Swedish and Portuguese soups from my mother-in-law's side...or a variety of Northern European soups from my father-in-law. But, in the end, I landed on my Filipino ancestry and wanted to share a dish from my paternal grandmother, my grandma Meling. 

I didn't call her 'Apong' which means great-grandparent. But, in her later years, that was her name because that's what my boys called her.

Naturally, my sweetest memory of my grandmother involved food. Here goes. I'm grateful that my boys were able to meet - and remember - my grandmother. She was a wonderful woman and an amazing cook. Some of the other dishes that I made that remind me of her...

And, with my maternal grandmother, I rolled lots and lots and lots of lumpia. But I'm going way off topic from my ancestral soups.

Sinigang 101
From the piquant tamarind to the bitter mustard greens, Grandma's sinigang was always my favorite. Over the years, I would ask her for the recipe or, at the very least, to let me watch her cook it so I could learn. She would always decline, saying, "No, Cami, whenever you want sinigang, you just come visit." So, I did.

On one visit, I brought my boyfriend Jacob - now my husband and the father of two of her great-grandsons - and Grandma had a pot of sinigang on the stove. Grandma ladled out steaming bowls and we sat down together. Now that I think about it, she didn't start eating right away; she just watched Jacob dig in. He was as smitten as I was, asking if I knew how to make sinigang. I explained that no, it was a secret recipe and that Grandma was never going to give me the recipe because she preferred to culinarily blackmail me: as long as I didn't know how to make it on my own, I would have to come visit to get it

At the end of the afternoon, Grandma walked us to the front door to say goodbye. As she hugged me, she said, "Now, I will show you how to make sinigang. Come back next week."

"Why now?" I asked, equally excited and flabbergasted.

She just smiled and patted Jacob's shoulder. "Don't worry. I will teach her how to make sinigang for you, Jacob."


Sinigang is a sour Filipino soup made with shrimp and tomatoes, characterized by its tangy-sour taste that comes from the use of the tamarind fruit.

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned but with head and tail intact
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons pure tamarind paste
  • 1-1/2 cups green beans, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped greens (we like using mustard greens)


In a large pan, bring the water to a boil. Add in the tomatoes and onions and simmer for 30 minutes. Add in the green beans and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and season with fish sauce, to taste. Cook until shrimp are opaque, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in the greens until wilted. Season to taste with the tamarind.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy immediately with rice.

So many delicious memories of eating this at my grandparents' house. And so very grateful that my grandmother finally showed me how to make this.

That's a wrap for our ancestral soups event. We'll be back next month as the group's founder leads us in an exploration of soups that contain eggs. Stay tuned...


  1. I loved reading your memories of your grandmother, these are such special thoughts and memories that never fade, that's an interesting soup, looks so delicious!

  2. Thanks for sharing your memories with us Cam. I'm so disappointed I couldn't join in but love reading all the posts.

  3. Oh those photos made me tear up. I remember telling my daughter that my grandmother was her great grandmother, and she said "yes, she's great!" Such memories.

  4. Love the memories that go into this recipe - and this sounds beautifully flavorful. I have some tamarind paste in my pantry, I will definitely give this one a try!

  5. Memories with grandparents are always awesome and food plays a major role. My daughter accepts one of the sweets made by mom as the best even though I make it. It's is the memory that is associated being with them and making with them. Love you shared yours. The soup is amazing. We make similar tamarind based vegetarian versions. Thanks for sharing your recipe.


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