When it comes to food, there’s nothing more Filipino than adobo and sinigang.
Or is there? Four noted chefs cast their vote for the dish they feel is more native to these shores.
Personally, we love them both and what they each bring to the table—adobo’s tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork or chicken plus its savory brown sauce make an order of extra rice a must, while sinigang’s sour soup flavored with veggies and your choice of pork, fish, or seafood never fails to hit the spot.
Read on and see which team you would side with!
To me, there’s nothing as native to the Philippines as sinigang. I love how one big kaldero can feed so many—not to mention, it’s a complete meal already!
Growing up, we usually had sinigang na baboy at our dinner table, but when I was pregnant it was my mom’s sinigang na salmon head that I looked for. (I had to stop myself from putting patis!) I remember when I was in pastry school abroad, whenever I got homesick I would buy Knorr sinigang sa sampaloc mix at the Asian grocery and just mix it with whatever vegetables I had. Nothing tastes like home quite like a big bowl of that sour soup.
I would think sinigang would be a more native dish since all the ingredients can be found locally: onions, tomatoes, sour fruit (tamarind, calamansi, or batuan), fish sauce, fish, or pork. However, earlier versions of adobo did use fish sauce instead of soy sauce. But it also contains laurel or bay leaf, which is European.
Also Read: Five Specialty Restaurants in Laguna
In my opinion, sinigang is definitely more Filipino. While adobo is highly associated with our cultural cuisine, it’s a dish that has a strong Spanish influence—whereas sinigang is said to have been around even before the Spaniards colonized us.
Looking at sinigang’s ingredients alone will tell you that the components are easily found locally. From the tamarind/sampaloc and the vegetables, to your choice between meat or seafood, the entire dish is a reflection of our culture.
Nothing can be more comforting than a bowl of hot soup, made even better when shared with family—and for me, that’s what sinigang does every single time.
Also Read: Meet the Pope’s Pinay Chef
Both dishes are Filipino.
Adobo is from the word adobar, meaning to marinate, which was coined by the Spaniards because of the way Filipinos ferment their meat and fish with salt and some acid. When the Spaniards came, they called our dish adobo because it resembles the way and manner they cook their own adobo, but the truth is totally different! In other words, we already had adobo even before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Sinigang is a clear stew where meat, fish, and vegetable are cooked with the use of souring agents like tamarind, guava, alibangbang, kamias, batuan, etc. It’s very Filipino but this kind of preparation is similar to Thailand’s tom yum, Malaysia’s bak kut teh, and other Southeast Asian dishes.
Adobo became more famous because it’s easy to prepare and its ingredients can be found anywhere. It has also evolved more than sinigang. Because of the Spanish galleon trade, we have added peppercorns, soy sauce, and other ingredients from China.
Adobo gives a more colorful story and history of our country than sinigang. Also, foreigners prefer the taste of adobo because of its balance of flavors—sweet, salt, spicy, garlicky, and sometimes bitter.