When I'm sick, nothing is more comforting than a steaming bowl of soup. It's all about the hot, soothing broth, calming the scratchy throat and blanketing my insides from tongue to toes. Chicken noodle soup is my normal go-to; I keep my pantry stocked with cans of Campbell's condensed version. It's easy, it's familiar, it does the trick just fine. But really, it's only second best.
Sinigang is the Filipino version of chicken noodle soup. Kind of. There's no noodles in sininang, or chicken (at least not in any I've ever had, but there certainly are many variations of the dish). My parents often make it with beef, ginger, taro root, and long beans. Taro root is like a potato, only a bit mushier and waxier when cooked in sinigang. When I was younger, I called them Filipino potatoes. Long beans are basically green beans, except longer and darker in color.
While these goodies are essential to sinigang, it's the tamarind that really defines the dish. The tamarind brings a sourness to the broth, which is what makes the dish so soothing to a sore throat. If I ever felt the slightest hint of a cold, my mom would make a pot of sinigang right away and spoon the broth into a little cup that I would sip with my food. It made being sick almost worth it. And I'll be completely honest with you: It tastes better when I'm sick.
It's still delicious without being sick, of course. Jenny asked my parents to make sinigang when we were at home a couple of weeks back. I gobbled up my food and had seconds, but not before burning my throat on the steaming hot broth and feeling the sour tingle all the way to my fingertips. Ahhh. OK, so a little part of me did wish I had a sore throat. But with the thin layer of snow I found on my car's rooftop this evening, that sore throat may be coming sooner than I'd like...