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Paksiw na Isda (Filipino Fish Stew in Vinegar)

As a child, Edwin's mom told him, "If you want to eat, you should cook it yourself." And that's exactly what he's been doing ever since.

Paksiw na Isda (Sour Filipino Fish Stew)

Paksiw na Isda (Sour Filipino Fish Stew)

Paksiw or Pinangat na Isda (Sour Fish Stew)

In the Philippines, sour dishes are very popular. To add sour flavors, we use a variety of ingredients including calamansi (a citrus similar to lime), tamarind (a brown, peapod-shaped fruit found in Asia and Africa), and vinegar.

Paksiw (or pinangat as it's sometimes called) is a stew that uses vinegar to achieve its sour flavor. Another interesting component of this stew is the use of an Asian vegetable called ampalaya, or bitter gourd or bitter melon, which is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. You can find this vegetable at your local Asian market.

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Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

30 min

40 min

2-4 servings


  • 1 pound fish fillets
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 chili pepper, whole
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 small ampalaya (bitter gourd or bitter melon)


  1. Slice and clean the bitter melon (refer to the photos below).
  2. Add the water, vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and peppercorns into a pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the fish, bitter melon (ampalaya), onions, and the whole chili pepper. Cover, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10-13 minutes, until fish is cooked and bitter melon is tender.


  • Fish: While this recipe uses fish fillets, traditional paksiw uses a whole fish that's been cut up. You can buy a whole fish at your local Asian store and ask the butcher to clean and cut up the fish for you. Normally, a Filipino fish called bangus, or milkfish, is used for this dish, but you can use any fish you want.
  • Vegetables: You can add other vegetables, as well, such as eggplant.
  • Fish sauce: If you prefer not to use fish sauce, you can simply add a bit of salt for seasoning.

Authentic Filipino Vinegar

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