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Tinolang Isda (Filipino Fish Tinola)

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.

Tinolang isda (Filipino fish soup) brings back memories of home.

Tinolang isda (Filipino fish soup) brings back memories of home.

Filipino-Style Fish Tinola Soup

Tinolang isda is a savory fish soup from the Philippines. In Tagalog, isda means fish and tinola means soup.

For me, this soup brings back memories of home, as my mother used to make it for me when I was growing up. The primary ingredients include fish, ginger, fish sauce, and unripened papayas. The green papayas have roughly the same look and texture as chayote squash, but you can also substitute any vegetables you like in this recipe.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

30 min

40 min

4 servings


  • 1 pound fish of your choice, cut into pieces
  • 1 small green papaya, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, available at Asian stores
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/8 cup sliced ginger


  1. Saute the garlic, onions and ginger in oil.
  2. Add water and fish sauce and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the fish, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the papaya slices and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender.


  • Green papaya: If you don't have access to green papaya, you may substitute chayote squash or broccoli.
  • Leafy greens: Add leafy greens such as spinach or bok choy. A vegetable called malunggay is traditionally used in this dish (available in Asian stores).
  • Spiciness: If you like it spicy, add your favorite chili pepper.