Kinilaw (Filipino Ceviche)

In week 7 of my 52weeksofcooking challenge, I was challenged into making something from the Philippines. It was a difficult choice, there were a lot of interesting and different recipes of which I’d never heard of before. Take for example ‘aroz caldo’, a thick and creamy rice soup. Or purple ‘ube ice cream’ which is made from the root crop ube. I decided to make ‘kinilaw‘, a Filipino style ceviche. 

I always thought that ceviche was something typically Peruvian, but surprise, it’s not! There is, however, one big difference between the Latin American versions and the Filipino version: the use of a different acid. Latin Americans use lime juice, while the Filipinos use vinegar.

Acid is very important for ceviche because it “cooks” the fish.

So how does this ‘cooking’ work? When you cook something, it normally implicates a heating process. During the heating process, bacteria or other pathogens are killed and proteins are denatured. However, the denaturing can also be achieved with the use of a strong acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Obviously, it’s not entirely the same, because when cooking with an acid you won’t get a warm dish ;). But the basic principle of denaturation of proteins applies for both methods.

Kinilaw literally means ‘eaten raw’ in English. It is usually eaten as a snack together with a beer, but it can also serve as a delicious fresh starter. You can choose different types of fish, I choose to go with tuna.

Another typical Filipino snack is ‘Chicharon’, which basically is fried pork rinds. They are light, salty and crispy, a very nice combination. In the Netherlands, this also used to be a well-known snack (knabbelspek), but for some reason, it’s a bit out of fashion now. Maybe I can introduce it again! I thought it was a good pairing with the creamy and soft kinilaw. In the Philippines, chicharon is also used as a topping over many vegetable and noodle dishes.

Again learned something new!

Kinilaw (Filipino Ceviche)

Four servings. Takes one hour (10 min preparation time, 50 min in the fridge).  


  • 150 g tuna steak
  • 5 tbsp lime juice
  • 1½ tablespoons grated ginger
  • ¼ small sliced red onion
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
  • 2 Thai red chilis, chopped


  1. Cut the fillets into 1-inch cubes. Place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add ¾ cup vinegar and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the vinegar gently. Return fish to the bowl.
  4. Add red onion, ginger, lime juice and coconut cream. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. The longer you marinate it the more firm the flesh will be.
  5. Garnish with coriander, chili pepper, and lemon slice.

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