Kinilaw na Isda (Filipino Ceviche)

As Sofia, from the Golden Girls T.V. series says, “picture this!”: the sun is setting over the horizon,  in one of the many beautiful beaches in the Philippines; the beer is chilling nearby, ready to slake your thirst; you just caught a beautiful tuna fish early this morning; the fish coruscating on the chopping board as it is prepared for Kinilaw na Isda; the mouth-watering scent of the pork and chicken as they are grilled over an open charcoal fire; and the cooling winds playing tag with the hair and clothes of your family and friends  frolicking on the sand — PICTURE PERFECT! 

The best way to make this is to have very fresh fish; freshly caught is the most excellent.

I like using calamansi juice because of its fragrance and lime can also be used. You can add more vinegar or calamansi juice if you prefer.


  • 1 kilo sashimi grade tuna or tanigue (Spanish mackerel) – sliced into 1/4-inch thick by 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely julienned sliced ginger
  • 1 cup chopped sibuyas Tagalog or red onion
  • 10 – 15 pieces bird eye chilies – finely sliced in circles
  • 1/2 cup calamansi or lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut vinegar or palm vinegar


  1. Make sure you place the fish in a glass serving dish or enamel dish. This prevents the vinegar from reacting with either stainless or aluminum and keeps the flavor clean.
  2. Arrange the fish pieces on the glass dish.
  3. Mix all the other ingredients in a glass bowl and taste before pouring in.
  4. Adjust the salt or chilies to your liking.
  5. When the flavor is right, pour over the fish and stir around.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 to 2 hours. The fish and marinade will turn milky. This means it’s ready to serve.
  7. Serve with cold beer or chilled white wine.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve tried this recipe over and over again with different kinds of fresh fishes and the best fish for me is tanigue. Fresj dilis is also a viable option, it taste great.

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