Patricio’s Cevicheria Gives Us a Step-by-Step Guide on How to Prepare Kilawin

November 30, 2014

Cooking is both a culture and a science; for example, ingredients used in a dish are native to a place, and the process itself determines how the food will be transformed. Kinilaw or kilawin is the perfect display of this. This seafood-in-palm-vinegar dish is almost as old as our country’s complex history. The vinegar itself is what breaks down the seafood’s protein, and thus cooks the meat or as Filipinos would put it, “niluto sa asim.”

Kinilaw dates back as far as the 10th to 13th centuries AD: a 1987 Balangay excavation in Butuan city found tabon-tabon halves used to cut fish bones in the same way we now prepare kinilaw. Any kind of seafood can be cooked in kinilaw—any uncooked fish, shrimp, or other kinds of edible sea creatures. Pia Roa of Patricio’s Cevicheria stresses that the fish needs to be very, very fresh. She also advises never to use industrial scale vinegar.

Particular steps of preparing kinilaw vary in different parts of the Philippines. In Bohol, fishermen prefer to wash the fish in tuba. The wild onion seyboring is found in the kilawin of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Pia also shares that gata is usually mixed into the kinilaw of Southern Visayas provinces, while the ones in Mindanao only use suka. Whatever your preference, the folks at Patricio’s Cevicheria showed us that it’s not that tricky and it only requires the freshest of a few ingredients. Read on to see the steps required in preparing kinilaw.

Step 1: Prepare your ingredients.


For this kinilaw, we used sukang tuba, gata, and fresh calamansi juice. Chop one whole tomato, ginger, red and green pepper, green onions, and red and white onions for your vegetables. Tuna should be cut into bite-sized pieces.

Step 2: Place the tuna pieces into the bowl.


Add the sukang tuba to the fish. Then add ½ cup of the gata. Mix the suka and gata with the tuna.

Step 3: Add the onions, ginger, and the red and green peppers.


Step 4: Toss all of the added ingredients together.


Step 5: Add two tablespoons of calamansi juice or squeeze two slices of calamansi.


Step 6: Toss all of the added ingredients together.


Step 7: Transfer the tossed ingredients to a plate for serving.


Step 8: Add the sliced tomatoes on top of the dish and serve.


Feel free to add the sliced labuyo according to your preferred spice level! Can you guess how hot we like ours?

How is kinilaw prepared in your province? What ingredients do you prefer in your kilawin? Let us know in the comments section below!

Reference: Alegre, Edilberto and Doreen G. Fernandez, Kinilaw: A Philippine Cuisine of Freshness, Makati: Bookmark, 1991. Print.

Gela Velasco Gela Velasco

Gela is a young adult slowly settling into her late twenties. She likes to make a mess in the kitchen when no one’s looking, dance till dawn on long weekends, and dream about beef on lazy afternoons. On some days she learns how to write good in graduate school. Her life goals include sashaying somewhat like Beyonce and to write a cover story on Leonardo di Caprio.

2 comments in this post SHOW

2 responses to “Patricio’s Cevicheria Gives Us a Step-by-Step Guide on How to Prepare Kilawin”

  1. Volts Sanchez says:

    Funny you should mention Butuan, since the best kinilaw I’ve had is from there. They use a local lime called biasong (please forgive my spelling if it’s wrong) which just works perfectly. Abso-friggin-lutely delicious. The freshness of the fish is just perfect, too. /crave

  2. Pam Cubillas says:

    my Dad is from Butuan and he can prepare best kinilaw i ever tasted. I have tried the squid kinilaw, bangus, tuna, shrimp, and my favorite among them all the kinilaw na talaba. this dish was always present in every inuman at home and birthdays .

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