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what is sinigang sa bayabas

Let me start with sinigang first. Sinigang means “to cook with souring agents.”  Now “bayabas.”  Bayabas is the Tagalog (FIlipino language) term for guava. Therefore sinigang sa bayabas means to cook something with guava. Ah, we also mean here overripe guava. Sounds weird? My fellow Filipinos and I would say “I don’t think so.”

Proofs are we cook different meats and seafood with bayabas. The most popular is sinigang na bangus sa bayabas – or milkfish cooked in guava.  This is the recipe you would find in this post. Jump to Recipe


Ingredients for sinigang sa bayabas

If you have cooked sinigang and/or are familiar with cooking the dish, the only ingredient you would replace is bayabas from the souring agent or panigang that you are using, e.g., sampaloc, calamansi, lemon, etc. The rest are the same:


  • onions
  • tomato 
  • souring agent (yes, ripe guavas this time)
  • Green or string beans 
  • raddish
  • kangkong (watercress) or romaine lettuce
  • serrano chilis (siling panigang)
  • fish sauce
  • water – you know why this is here, right? 🙂 


How to cook sinigang sa bayabas

As in any sinigang recipes, we simply throw the ingredients in water with the souring agent – however in a particular order – until they are cooked through. Sounds simple? It is.


cooking tips:

  • Use Mama Sita sinigang sa bayabas mix! (well, come on, why not?) 
  • Seriously now, using raddish with bayabas is a matter of taste. I find raddish too sour for the sweet guava. Your choice of vegetables, therefore vary, but that is fine. 
  • Using overripe guava makes sinigang extract is natural flavor. Unripe guavas are not good for sinigang at all.
  • A tablespoon fish sauce adds flavor to broth, even if you are not fond of fish sauce. 
  • Peppers are optional in sinigang sa bayabas, but necessary in the other sinigangs. 



I am sharing with you here a story from my brother, Francis Perez, who co-authored the book ‘there is no oven in Inang’s kitchen.”

My brother-in-law, Mike, while in the US in the mid 80’s, took his girlfriend to a Filipino restaurant at her request. Determined to show her the authenticity of Filipino food, he ordered a variety of dishes including fish sinigang. With excitement at both the food and his audience, Mike proceeded to fondle the fish, removing the bones and giving her pieces of fish meat to sample. All was going well until he picked up the head of the lapu-lapu (grouper) sinigang and started to suck the eye of the fish. Mike later came out of the restaurant, not having finished his dinner, without a girlfriend!

eating fish, skills needed

Eating fish could be a skill second only to its preparation. Removing the scales, deboning it during meal – you name it – they can be truly intricate. It all starts at the market where one must know how to identify the fresh from the stale? It makes a hell of a difference.

Most people think the supermarket is not the place for “fresh” fish except maybe for live tilapia; but tilapia is as common as our national fish, bangus (milk fish), which is dead almost immediately after being caught. However, bangus won’t go stale even if exposed the whole day as compared to mudfish that should be cleaned alive; it’s not good for consumption if the poor fish is dead before buying. “Bangus is safe,” says my father who grew up in the “palaisdaan” and “pamamalakaya.” I guess his roots explain my inherent love for seafood.

to the fish market, let’s go

The fish market, on the other hand, is always exciting with its variety of fish. Preparing the fish, cooking and getting the right taste are always gratifying challenges. I do not overdo the ingredients for each fish recipe because I do not want the ingredients to take over its natural taste. The ingredients and cooking should enhance the fish rather than cover its fishy-ness.

We all know, the place where and how the seafood is caught affects the price. Where a fish is caught also makes a difference in taste. Pinangat na ayungin, small fish from Laguna Lake – this variety is smaller than the ayunging dagat that has green stripes. The former’s meat is more tender. The fresh water fish is normally more tender than the salt water fish – somehow the norm, but that does not necessarily make it better than the other. Similarly, for shrimps caught from the sea against cultured shrimps.

There is a quickly growing demand for fish fillet meals being served by food stands to fast-food outlets to your favorite restaurants. However, the fish fillet wasn’t initially locally produced. It is fleshy, boneless, bland but convenient and easy, both for the eating public and those who serve it. There isn’t much praises for this fish even on the Internet. You and I would always be better off devouring a whole fresh fish that we pick up that day in the market.

Be adventurous, step on the wet market and find the joy in picking up the fish with the best looking set of eyes.

by Francis Perez, co author, there is no oven in Inang’s kitchen

Recipe for Sinigang sa Bayabas

Sinigang sa Bayabas

Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword sinigang sa bayabas
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 5 people
Author Magida


  • 1 whole bangus (milkfish)
  • 1 medium-sized onion quartered
  • 1 medium-sized tomato quartered
  • 6-9 pcs overripe guavas (bayabas)
  • 250 g green beans or string beans (sitaw) cut into 3-inch pieces
  • a few pcs okra
  • 1 bunch kangkong (watercress) or romaine lettuce
  • 4 tbsps patis (fish sauce) - optional


  1. Boil onion, tomatoes and guavas in a casserole or pot until the guavas begin to tear.

  2. Scoop the guavas onto a bowl, add a bout a cup of soup water from the casserole. Mash the guavas then return them to the pot. You may want to strain and get only the juice.

  3. Add the milkfish and the rest of the ingredients, except kangkong (romaine lettuce) and cook unitl the fish is done.

  4. Add the kangkong or romaine lettuce and heat for just a couple of minutes and serve.

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