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Philippines – Kinilaw

What’s cooking in the Philippines?


I was so happy when our reader Luisa decided to write us to share her family’s recipe from the South of the Philippines, that I wanted to try it out immediately! Kinilaw is a fresh and healthy recipe which is perfect in summer.

Luisa is from a town called Davao, in the southern region of the Philippines, called Mindanao. This area is close to the sea, which is why they make this delicious dish with fresh fish (tuna). Luisa left the Philippines in 2002 after graduating from university and then lived in Madrid (she is part Spanish), and New York. She took up on a teaching job in Geneva 9 years ago and so she moved to Switzerland. Luisa is currently on a career break to focus on raising her toddler and she is expecting another baby later this year. She used to visit the Philippines more often but hasn’t been back in the last 6 years. Her parents have been the ones visiting more often since all their other children are also based in Europe.

Luisa’s family loves to cook. Her 2 sisters are chefs and run a café in Paris. They all learned to cook from their mom and their grandmother. The Kinilaw recipe is her mom’s. She says: ‘My grandmother makes it slightly different —adding coconut milk’.

Kinilaw means “eaten raw”. The process involves “cooking” with vinegar (usually cane or coconut vinegar) and citric juices (the local lemon is called calamansi). There are different variations in different regions. In the north of the Philippines they use lightly grilled meat. In the south they use fish (in Davao they have a lot of tuna) or other seafood, like shrimp.


  • 1kilo diced fresh tuna or substitute
  • 2 cucumbers (sliced thinly)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced radish – put in bowl add 1tbsp rock salt and mix using your hands. Then wash off and squeeze out water.)
  • Juice of 2 whole lemons
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 finger sized ginger (skin peeled and minced)
  • 4 table spoons of vinegar( if you have kafir lime leaves you can mince this and soak in vinegar. Strain after an hour)
  • Red bell pepper-minced but not too fine) this is to add flavour and color
  • Small red Chili -minced

How to prepare:

  1. Put the tuna cubes in a bowl. Add lemon and vinegar.
  2. Mix with the rest of the ingredients.

Refrigerate before serving

Thank you, Luisa for having shared your family’s Kinilaw recipe with us! We loved this healthy and fresh meal and we will definitely make it more often! We were lucky to try out this recipe while on holiday, on a warm summer evening!





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