kINILAW is thoroughly explored in the definitive book by Edilberto Alegre and the late Doreen Fernandez. It is any kind of meat or vegetable that is cooked in “liquid fire.” Long before the Spaniards came, we were already making kinilaw. One more thing, this dish is one of those things that unify us Filipinos; from North to South–Aparri to Jolo, we each have our own varieties of kinilaw. Thus, kinilaw is truly Philippine.
The West Visayas region (that includes Iloilo of course) has its distinctive kinilaw versions. The most popular is kinilaw nga isda. But not all fish are ideal for kinilaw. Most preferred is tangigue. A student of mine did a research on why tangigue it is. One rustic seaside restaurant in Miagao, though, prefers bantalaan, a member of the tuna family. (check out Doming’s Kinilaw). Another kinilaw choice is the gurayan (sorry, I still need to research on the scientific and English names of these fish).
There are two basic kinilaw nga isda. One is vinegar-based; the other is gata-based (with coconut cream).
The secret of great fish kinilaw? The freshest fish and the purest coconut vinegar or what we call as dalisay.
Another kind of kinilaw that is popular with us, Ilonggos, is kinilaw nga baboy (pork). The parts used are the panit (skin) and the maskara (pig jowl and ears) because they’re tastier than the pork’s regular parts. Unlike the kinilaw nga isda which is raw then cooked in vinegar, kinilaw nga baboy starts out cooked–either by boiling (laga) the meat lightly or broiling (sugba) over charcoal. After this, the pork is sliced into thin strips and spiced up.
Not so popular but also prepared in Iloilo is kinilaw nga panit sang kanding (goat skin). Yes, that’s right. I found one stall in San Miguel market specializing in this and all other viands made from the meehe , the goat. Come to think of it, goat-meat is organic as compared to commercially or backyard-raised baboy.
Hmm, let me think. What else is gina-kilaw in Iloilo? Right now, my mind is stuck. If you’re Ilonggo, perhaps you know of some other varieties.
Basic KINILAW recipe
Papa On’s Kinilaw: my first pick