Kinilaw Na Isda (Fish with Vinegar and Ginger)

This is Kinilaw Na Isda (Fish with Vinegar and Ginger). Kinilaw na isda is a Filipino dish that is more popular and well known in the Visayas region of the Philippines than it is in the entire country. You can use a wide variety of fish for this preparation. In this instance, we are using herring or tamban. Though it is a smaller fish you can still filet it which is all you need for kinilaw. This is a common dish to see at social gatherings as it pairs well with beer and other spirits. Note that the seeds from the calamansi juice, as seen in the picture, are typically removed from the citrus juice before use.Enjoy this recipe from all of us at Filipino Chow.


  • 1 pound of fish filet, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 4 calamansi lemons, juiced
  • 2 small chili peppers, minced
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Start by combining the vinegar and calamansi juice in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir briefly to mix these together.
  3. Now add the minced ginger and chopped onion to the mixing bowl and stir.
  4. Let this since for 5 minutes.
  5. Now add the cucumber and fish to the mixing bowl.
  6. Stir and toss this until the mixture is well blended with the meat and vegetables.
  7. Taste the liquid then adjust the flavor using more or less salt, vinegar, and citrus juice, as needed.
  8. If you like it spicy, add the minced chilis here then stir again.
  9. Let this sit for at least 5 minutes then serve chilled or room temperature.

You can substitute lemon or lime juice for the calamansi juice if those are hard to find where you live. Here are a few tips for cleaning whole fish when you are using something small like a herring. Start by scraping the skin to remove all the scales. Then cut off the fins and head. Now slice the belly and remove the innards and pull out the fish bones. Now rinse and it's ready to use. Serve with room temperature rice. Hot rice doesn't go well with this dish. Also, you can keep the sliced cucumber crisp until you are ready to use it by putting it in a bowl of cold water and placing that in the refrigerator.


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