What is sinaing na isda?

Sinaing na isda is as general as we can get. Translated to Tagalog, it means braised fish. But, such a phrase is enough to elicit good conversation. “Which fish?” you might ask. There you have it! I am titling this post sinaing na isda because this dish is very versatile; any fish would go well with this recipe. The only suggestion I can make is choosing “meaty”fish – like tuna. It is actually the most common, followed by galunggong (scand) which is a tuna variety as well.


What about sinaing na tulingan and sinaing na galunggong?

Continuing with little translation lessons, “isda” means fish, while “tulingan” means mackerel tuna. Therefore sinaing na isda is general while sinaing na tulingan directly refers to the fish mackerel tuna. Sinaing na tulingan is associated with Batangas – a province south of Manila and a little less than 2 hours by land or around 100 kms away. Want to do the math? No need, for we could easily conclude that traffic has something to do with why it should take 2 hours for 100km distance! Having said that, visiting Batangas is always worth the traffic, err the trip. Just imagine sampling their local rendition of “sinaing na tulingan,” their beautiful beaches, amiable people, good food and you will not go wrong.

Sinaing na galunggong (scand) on the other hand, has gained popularity during the last couple of years. You will easily find them packed, either in plastic or glass containers, and sold commercially. One of my favorites is from Lott’s Kitchen. I had tried her sinaing na galunggong more than once and had asked for more. Well, I have that privilege of asking because Lott is a personal friend, though not the reason I so loved her sinaing na galunggong. It really is delish!

Sinaing na isda (I am referring to any type of fish here, of course) is done with kamias (balimbi or sorrel tree) as its main accompaniment, and versions of this dish are wide, ranging from whether the kamias is used fresh or sundried, to cooking them rather quickly or for close to an hour, if not more. The results will then vary. My friend, Lott, uses fresh kamias, however her sinaing turns out dry, almost crispy. It must be magic, I thought. Trade secret! She cooks them longer, that is all I can conclude. Some versions would turn out soft, some simply wet, while others leave an amount of broth.


Ingredients for sinaing na isda

Apart from the main ingredient that is any type of meaty fish, here are the ingredients for sinaning na isda:

Dried kamias

Dried kamias are available in grocery stores and local/wet markets in the Philippines. I take them to Saudi Arabia, keep them in covered containers until use. At times when I ran out of sundried kamias. I gently ask a friend who hails from Batangas to donate some for me. Hi, Victor Martinez! Victor is always happy to share his stock of sundried kamias. Anyway, there are secrets in drying kamias as such is a tradition that is passed on from older generations.


Julienned ginger provides a little heat in the dish and also rids of the fishy smell if any. 

Onions and ripe tomatoes

Sliced onions and tomatoes are optional. Traditional recipes of sinaing na isda do not necessarily have this in their versions. In the featured recipe here, the onions and tomatoes provide added sauce/juice and a mild sweet taste in the dish which is good to pour over rice when served. Twist?


Another optional ingredient, chili provides more heat to the dish. Alternatively, you can slice chilis and serve them on the side with patis (fish sauce) when serving your sinaing.  

How to cook sinaing na isda

Remember Victor? He has, as another friend intimated, taken a piece of Batangas to his apartment in Saudi Arabia where has been working for more than 20 years. Not only does he have an all-year stock of dried kamias, he also uses clay pot from his Batangas. Clay pot, by the way, is one secret of a successfully delicious sinaing na isda, because although you can use any cooking pot or casserole, a clay pot would produce the most eye-rolling sinaing that would keep you coming back for more. From where Victor hails in Batangas, the fish are also wrapped in fresh banana leaves before cooking the sinaing and the result is softer and more aromatic.


Sinaing na isda with a twist

What I would share with you here is sinaing na salmon. It is more tender than galunggong when done because of the cooking time. As you try different kinds of fish in sinaing, your preference in doneness will be your guide in determining your cooking time. While you would not want salmon to dry, you would love the well-done, wooden-like outcome of galunggong. This recipe is easy, delicious and one you would do more than once, I am sure.


Most sinaing na isda are cooked for at least a couple of hours over low heat. This featured recipe does not have to be the same. Salmon’s natural flavor is best when not overcooked. 


How to Store Leftovers

Really. you would have leftovers? Alright, as sinaing na isda has been cooked with a souring agent, leftovers are welcome because their shelf life extends longer than other recipes. Leftover sinaing can be kept in sealed containers in the fridge, then reheated before serving. 




Sinaing na Isda

Author Magida


  • 1 k. fresh boneless salmon cut into 3" pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 3- inch size ginger julienned
  • 1 medium-size onion cut into slices
  • 15 pcs. dried kamias
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 3 whole green sili
  • Salt to taste
  • Patis optional


  1. Scatter 1/3 of the dried kamias, ginger, onions, and tomatoes onto the cooking pot and top them with half the salmon pieces. Repeat once and top them with the last 1/3 of the dried kamias, ginger, onions, and tomatoes.

  2. Add chilli, if using.

  3. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil.

  4. Cook covered over medium heat for at least 20 minutes.

  5. Add patis halfway, if using.

Recipe Notes

Serve over steamed white rice.

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