Stay warm and healthy while you enjoy this nutritious Sinigang na Salmon, a Filipino sour soup with a mix of fish and vegetables.
A few years back, Riza, a good friend of mine and also a Pinay, taught me a very valuable lesson.
That is...salmon heads are stinking cheap in Germany and where to get them!
Hahaha! I know it sounded a bit melodramatic but practical tips like this one are goldmines when you are abroad and missing your favorite home dishes but do not know where to get the ingredients.
Yes, it is true that I could just use the meaty part to cook but for some dishes, it is not entirely the same if it is not the same part, in this case , the head. And did I mention that it is very cheap?
The locals never really found a use for the salmon heads, they usually discard and toss them away. So it is very unlikely that you'll see salmon heads displayed in the groceries or fish markets.
But if you ask nicely maybe you can get some.
In Germany, 'Wochenmarkt' is a typical thing and are held in almost every city and major towns.
It is a weekly market event where fresh local produce like fruits, vegetables, herbs, dairy, poultry, fish and meat and sometimes flowers and plants are being sold in various stalls and trucks.
In our area, Überlingen (Bodensee), they do it twice a week. This is where Riza was able to buy the Salmon head.
Riza tried it one day and asked the fish lady if she has Salmon heads, which she didn't but kindly offered to bring her some on the next market day...and that was the beginning of many orders that followed as the word spread out to other Pinay friends, including yours truly.
However, supply is limited as she only sells fresh ones and, of course, it will depend on how many salmon she was able to sell, so you have to order beforehand by going there on a market day and you get it (or maybe not) on the next one.
We usually pay €1.00 a piece, which is like Php55.00-60.00. Or was it for two pieces? I am not sure anymore ?. Will have to verify it with Riza...
In the Philippines however, Salmon head is not spared from being cooked and eaten.
What some people don't know is that there is still plenty of meat to get from a salmon's head and it also makes for a great soup.
Here, one of the popular ways to cook salmon head is to make Sinigang na Salmon.
Sinigang is a healthy soup combining some meat and vegetables and is popularly known for being sour by adding a souring agent to it. The most commonly used sour base is tamarind but other fruits can also be used, like guava, kamias, santol or whatever sour fruit (veggie) you can use.
Other kinds of meats are also used to cook Sinigang, like pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, and fish. The common vegetables added to this delicious soup are tomatoes, white radish, long beans, okra, eggplant, taro, banana heart, and water spinach.
You do not have to use all of this veggies together and it usually varies depending on the meat you are going to cook. Long green chili peppers are also usually added to add a kick and I love mine a bit spicier so I also crush the cooked chili in a small saucer and add fish sauce to it as a dipping sauce. Yum!
If you cannot get hold of some of the veggies in the recipe, as long as you have the sour base, tomatoes and one or two of the other vegetables, that is fine and can still enjoy this delectable Filipino dish of Sinigang na Salmon.
Sinigang na Salmon (Salmon Head in Sour Tamarind Soup)
- 1 liter water
- 3 pieces tomatoes - cut into quarters
- 1 medium onion - cut int quarter
- 1 thumb ginger - cut into 4-5 slices
- 1 medium white radish - cut into thin diagonal slices
- 5 pieces yardlong beans - ends trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 piece Salmon head - gills removed, cleaned and cut into half
- 1 medium eggplant - cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
- 5 pieces okra
- 3 pieces green chili peppers
- 1 packet Tamarind soup mix - for 1-liter pack
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 bunch water spinach (Kangkong) - hard part of the stalks trimmed
- In a pot over high heat, bring 1 liter of water to boil.
- Add tomatoes, onion, ginger, yardlong beans, and white radish. Lower heat to medium and cover pot with lid. Simmer for 5 minutes or until white radish is just half cooked.
- Add the Salmon head, eggplant, okra, and green chili peppers. Pour in tamarind mix and fish sauce and gently stir to avoid breaking the fish into pieces. Simmer for 5 minutes or until fish is cooked
- Add the water spinach (Kangkong) and cook for a few seconds then turn off the heat.
- Transfer content to a serving soup dish and serve with steamed rice.
I'm a Kiwi(NewZealander) of German desent (I have friends and family in Ueberlingen) there are quite a few wonderful Pinoy here in Canterbury. I've sometimes seen Salmon heads here in the Supermarket's fresh seafood section, and wondered: who uses them and how?
So now I finally looked for recipes. I really enjoyed reading this, and I plan to try find these veges when its springtime, and make it.
In case I cant find the soup base, how could I best replace it? maybe you can share the ingredients from the packed you used, I'm a cook by trade, so I'll get creative from there.
Thanks so much for this inspiration 😀
Hi Veronica, traditionally we just use unripe tamarind. You just add it to the soup, let it cook until tender, remove and mash with some of the liquid from the soup, and add the pulp back, strained. If you have Thai or Asian stores in your area ask for tamarind paste usually sold in jars. Hope you'll be able to make it and like it!
Since 2018, Salmon fish head is no longer cheap. T&T now sells it for $5.99/lb. My friend was going to buy one and when it was weighed, she was told the price was $9.+
Other stores sell it for $1.99/lb. For 2 heads, it was $4.50 which included chopping and cleaning.
I love drinking the broth whenever I cook it with some Tamarind mix, mustard leaves, with some other veggies, plus some chili to make it hot and sour soup. Just looking at the picture you posted, makes me salivate. I just had salmon fish head soup last week. Now, I want to cook again following your recipe.
Wow, $9 for a Salmon head! That breaks my heart. I am not sure if the prices went up in Germany as well. They must have learned how delicious salmon head is over there. 😉
Manny Parras says
I cooked it yesterday and I used actual tamarind. I do like the idea of adding chili, taro and green beans.
Natural is still the best! 😉 Thanks for the stars and nice comment.
if you want salmon heads... find a sushi restaurant or any other restaurant that might butcher a whole salmon... because most of them are throwing them away and most likely they will just give them to you.. i work for a sushi restaurant and just scored 4 large heads of salmon for free because they were throwing them away... i grew up around filipinos and thought the salmon heads would be good in sinigang... i only found this page looking for tips.. i hope someone else finds this useful
Wow, that is such a great tip, Randy! This is perfect because one of our readers here just mentioned that salmon head price went so high up in their area. Thanks for this gem of information!
Melita Bruce says
I live in the UK and sometimes Morrisons supermarket sell salmon head and belly meant for the pets! But I buy they just the same for delicious sinigang. However, this is so rare.
I wonder how the sinigang with ginger would taste, because the
Marikina version does not have ginger.
Just made your taho recipe using soy milk. It’s in the fridge right now, hope it would be as success.
Hi Melita, I also usually skip the ginger but some people like to add it to remove or lessen the 'lansa' taste (which does not really bother me anyway, I believe that is a part of eating fish ?) but I find that if you use fresh fish, there should not be any.
I hope you like the taho, although I prefer it warm and eat it after steaming and cooling it down just a bit, but I think it should also be good cold. Do let me know how it goes...
One of my favorite soup. We do the same here in the US. Our store just throw away their Salmon heads, so they give it to us for free. We got so many we can't almost eat all of them. Aside from making Sinigang from the salmon head, we also make it as Inun-unan. Salmon head is always a treat for us.