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Spicy Kinilaw

I was in my early 20’s and living in the Cayman Islands when I first discovered that I looked my steak frankly mooing, and this through the now-closed restaurant I worked in Bacchus Wine Bar, Georgetown let me on food trying odyssey.

From rare steak I moved onto beef carpaccio (still a firm favourite) to tuna sashimi, and onto authentic Peruvian ceviche. I can now blankly say that my favourite food is raw meat and fish, period.

And has led me many times to what is now my favourite food in the Philippines, Kinilaw.

So, what is kinilaw? Kinilaw literally means to “eat raw” in Tagalog and is a dish native to the Philippines that shares many similarities with South American/Spanish ceviche.

The most common kinilaw is fish kinilaw, although there is a meat-based version (that I am yet to try) known as kilawin.

The fish used for kinilaw varies massively depending on what is available, with milkfish and tuna being two prime examples. The fish is then cut into cubes, before much like ceviche being added to cure in vinegar, usually of the coconut or throughout the country,

The finished dish is then seasoned with onions, lots of peppers, and depending on the local fare even sea grapes – pretty much you will rarely taste two kinilaw that are the same, and whilst it is served throughout the country, each region has its own variation.

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And what does kinilaw taste like? Again, every variation is a little different but generally speaking, kinilaw is very spicy and acidic, with the rich calamansi fruit usually playing a part in enriching the flavor.

As raw fish dishes go, Kimilaw is right up there with the best, although nothing will ever beat the raw tuna I had in Kiribati.

The Street Food guy approves of Kinilaw.

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