Archive for May 20, 2009

Sinamak (Spiced Vinegar)

My entire family loves to cook – from my mom, to my siblings and I, down to our nephews and nieces. Our love for food has transcended all generations. But my favorite cook was probably my Dad.  I remember watching him on some Sundays as he made his favorite kinilaw or tokwa’t baboy. Dad loved to eat and enjoyed preparing his meals as well.

an assortment of cured fish from Cebu

an assortment of daing (cured fish) from Cebu

My Dad was born in Cebu and was quite adept with Visayan cooking. Visayans are known for curing their food, especially seafood and my Dad was in love with cured fish or as we call it in the Philippines, daing. Knowing that his love for this cured fish would affect his health, he wittingly found a solution so that he could continue his love affair with this salty fish. He would soak the cured fish in water to remove some of the salt and would dry them out in the sun again. This way, he could enjoy his food (almost) guilt-free! But that’s not all – these salted fish meals were not complete unless paired with his favorite condiment, his revered spicy vinegar or sinamak in the Visayas.  Dad (and I cannot stress this enough) LOVED his vinegar. He couldn’t eat his meals unless his small bottle was beside him. In fact, whenever there was a new house helper who was not aware of this, he made it known to them by giving this short speech said in Filipino, “In my life, only three things matter – GOD, FAMILY and VINEGAR.”  Yes, we were only a notch above vinegar.

shallots, ginger, garlic, chili, and peppercorns  - ingredients for sinamak

shallots, ginger, garlic, chili, and peppercorns - ingredients for sinamak

I seem to have inherited my Dad’s love for this spiced vinegar  and also look for it whenever having your usual Visayan breakfast. So when I looked for it this morning and realized that we had run out, I did what my Dad would’ve done – I made my own bottle of sinamak.

So this is for you, Daddy. I miss you.

Sinamak (Spiced Vinegar)

Sinamak (Spiced Vinegar)


  • 10 shallots, peeled
  • 1 garlic head, peeled
  • 1/4 cup peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup ginger, sliced
  • vinegar
  • salt
  • chilis

Combine all ingredients in a bottle and steep for 2 weeks before using.


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