Bathe Your Seafood in Liquid Fire, Kinilaw from Under Coconut Skies by Yasmin Newman, Taste The Philippines

Bathe your seafood in liquid fire, Kinilaw from Under Coconut Skies by Yasmin Newman (Smith Street Books, October 2021).

Taste the Philippines!

Catch of the day with coconut vinegar, makrut lime & coriander oil


‘It may well be our national food,’ wrote Doreen Gamboa Fernández, not of adobo, but kinilaw. The Filipino food historian was enamoured with the combination of seafood bathed briefly in native vinegar – liquid fire as she called it – which cures and preserves its sublime freshness. It’s certainly our oldest: archaeological evidence dates it to at least 1000 years’ old. Similar to ceviche, kinilaw is often made with fish, infused with the fragrance of kalamansi or dayap (native citrus) and made delicately sweet and creamy with coconut milk.

But there are countless versions, a picture of local produce in each region and town. Inspired by Hapag restaurant in Manila, this fragrant kinilaw is set off with coriander oil and makrut lime.

Under Coconut Skies Catch of the Day image (1)

Serves 6


500 g (1 lb 2 oz) sashimi-grade tuna or tanique (Spanish mackerel), cut into 2 cm (¾ in) cubes
sea salt
1 green mango, shaved into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
2 makrut lime leaves, finely shredded
Kinilaw liquid
125 ml (½ cup) sukang tuba (coconut vinegar)
2 teaspoons kalamansi or lime juice
60 ml (¼ cup) coconut milk
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cm (½ in) piece of ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
Coriander oil
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves picked
60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil


To make the kinilaw liquid, place the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and stand for 1 hour to infuse. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the solids. Set aside.
To make the coriander oil, place the coriander in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and stand for 30 seconds or until dark green and wilted. Drain, then refresh under cold water.
Squeeze to remove the excess water, then transfer to a food processor, add the oil and process until smooth and bright green.
Place the fish in half the kinilaw liquid in a bowl and toss to combine. Stand for 1 minute to cure, then drain the liquid and discard. Season with salt. Add the green mango and lime leaf and toss to combine with the fish, then divide among serving bowls.

Pour over a little of theremaining kinilaw liquid, drizzle with the coriander oil and serve immediately.

(* Recipe excerpted from Under Coconut Skies, 'Feasts & Stories from the Philippines' by Yasmin Newman, copyright Smith Street Books, October 2021)

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