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your article made my mouth water... the fishes are so succulent that i just want to order sashimi...

it's rare to read stuff from tourists blogging their experiences in mindanao... so many baseless travel advisories are keeping foodies from experiencing the cuisine down south...


jj-I know what you mean. This is sth I just can't recreate in my KL kitchen so all I can do is write the post, salivate, and hope for another trip to Mindanao soon.

And, you're right. Mindanao is a big place but when there's word of a bombing or a kidnapping in one small area the automatic reaction is to assume the whole region is off-limits. A pretty common problem - riots in Jakarta keep travelers from Bali, a war in Iraq keeps people from Istanbul (!), etc. A good reason not to always trust travel advisories and pull out a map and do some research of your own.


Robyn and Dave, I'm so glad you went down to Mindanao and are finding such wonderful people like Mang Leo and family. That is a fantastic looking kinilaw. I've only seen tabon-tabon on blogs, so there's so much to learn about filipino food for this pinay. I will have to put Butuan on my to visit list.


Wonderful post! I've mostly eaten kinilaw that was more simply prepared so I can imagine that combination of flavors would be even better. The use of bahal plus 2 types of limes I imagine gives it a more fruity tartness than simply depending on the sourness of nipa vinegar.

Burnt Lumpia

Wonderful, wonderful post Robyn. I've been looking into kinilaw recipes on and off in hopes of attempting to make it myself here in the States. But I always get hung up on how long to soak the fish in the vinegar/lime--some recipes say for a couple hours, some say a few seconds. From your post, it looks like you ate it right away after the fish was added to the souring agents. I know I won't be able to pull of the authenticity you had in Mindanao, considering I don't think I can find tabon-tabon, but I'll give it a try with just vinegar and kalamansi.


I'm from Butuan, and yah, i've heard of those ppol. Visit butuan, guys! ^__^


seafood lovers, you guys have a new place to go- BUTUAN! see you there!


Great post! :) and gee, a very good detailed kinilaw recipe too. our variation is that, we put coconut milk or mayonnaise for added creaminess to the kinilaw:)

Beth Loggins

Oh my goodness that looks so good!! Mouth.is.watering.


This kinilaw just looks fantastic! I can only imagine how it tastes like. Alas, most of us ordinary Filipinos are foreigners in our own country. We don't have the means to go around as often as we'd like.

Thanks for writing about some of our well-loved dishes. I don't think sashimi is comparable to our kinilaw. I'm biased, of course.


if you ever stop by Sarawak, try our version of kinilaw. it is called umai..
yummo!! love it love it

Butuan City Investment Promotion Center

Thank you for doing an article about our hometown. You just made us become more proud to be a Butuanon. God bless!

Visit BUTUAN: The Historic Trade City of Asia!

butuan expat

wow.. yummy.. i love the kinilaw.

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The sea food is excellent I like this food, From Sea to Mouth, is very interesting, thanks for sharing!

dodon madroño

WE have this new product called KINILAW MIX, a ready mix for preparing the same kinilaw posted here...the mix contains the spices and herbs and the tuba...all in one..try nyo po!
Kmix is also good for veggies salads....

visit Kinilaw Mix at FB

dodon madroño

We have this New Product called Kinilaw Mix...it's the easiest way to prepare Kinilaw..it contains the herbs, spices and tuba mix in a bottle..all u have to do is shake it and pour it to your favorite fish..It's originally made in Cagayan de Oro City..enjoy it

You may visit Kinilaw Mix at FB.


OMG! this makes my mouth water. Is there any substitute ingredients for the tabon-tabon?i wish it's available at the asian market.


Hi Marj -- have a read of the post. The fish vendor substitutes grated coconut for certain kinds of fish. There are probably a million versions of kinilaw, so I think it's pretty flexible.


Butuan is probably one of the most overlooked and underrated cities in the Philippines when it comes to good food.

Now that you've had the best kinilaw you'll ever have, try the Butuan lechon the next time you visit. Much better than the more popular Cebu lechon, in my opinion.

You can check out my blog post about Butuan here: http://maneatmanila.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/man-eats-butuan/


Hi Robyn, I looking for some info about tabon tabon and kinilaw then found your blog. I was impressed because of the details and accuracy and you seem very knowledgeable about the topic.


I LOVE the Philippines my husband is from Mindanao, when we go to butuan every time we go home, my favorite food is kinilaw, we live in Australia,and we want to know if they tabon tabon here... Cos kinilaw here doesn't do it justice lol.

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