What is the best hangover cure? A little hair of the dog, which would be vodka in this case. Food soaks ups the toxins well and overindulgence will surely result in a welcomed comatose state on the couch, watching Mad Men reruns and swearing to yourself never to drink again. Last night's happy hour with office mates and my husband at Aventine extended to a few more hours of happily dashing around Embarcadero looking for a suitable place for dinner, deciding to go to Polk Street instead and merging with another group at Nick's Crispy Tacos. I paid for that overindulgence and am ready to cook my way to better health. Off to Clement Street I go, in search of souring agents, fish and vegetables for my sinigang. There is nothing like plain rice and pure broth with ginger and tamarind to put the world right. With sinigang I will serve bistek, seared skirt steak in soy sauce and lemon with lots of caramelized onions.
But first the sinigang: I do not buy farmed bangus unless it's from Dagupan. All others taste muddy. I stay away from farmed fish altogether. I hope there is wild caught black cod or salmon, especially salmon collars, or golden pompano. Vegetables will be the usual: long green beans, Filipino or Japanese eggplant, mustard greens or pechay, daikon radish, spring onions. I am tempted to go with the usual sinigang packet, but I will attempt to find frozen tamarind or kamias. I am sure not to find batuan, the round sour fruit preferred by the Visayans for souring their sinigang. I will have to wait until my trip back to the Philippines in July to have my grandmother's sinigang with batuan in La Paz. For now I will make do with what I find in the markets on Clement, and dream about fresh ingredients I can cook with when I go back to the Philippines. Kamias plucked straight from the tree, tamarind with the young leaves and flowers that can also be used in the broth, batuan with its hard seed in the center. Nothing frozen or pre-packaged. All of the land, sky and sea for the taking.