Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kinilaw (Raw Fish Salad / Filipino Ceviche)

Kinilaw or kilawin or raw fish salad is an appetizer dish.  Most of the time, it is usually served with beer as "pulutan." The fish is not cooked on fire but the acetic acid in vinegar and citric acid from lime or lemon slowly the fish meat when soaked for a few hours.  The traditional kinilaw is fish meat marinated in vinegar with ginger, onion, black pepper and chili peppers. 

My husband was the only person who was able to make me eat kinilaw.  I remember the first time I tried it when we had lunch at John's Fish House in Zamboanga City in 2008.  I didn't realize what I was missing until I tried kinilaw.  It was so deliciously tangy and refreshing.  Its spicy and acidic taste heightens your appetite making you eat more!

My kinilaw recipe is both inspired by John Fish House's kinilaw and my husband's love for veggies.  I'd say it is a cross between the authentic Filipino Kinilaw and the Mexican Ceviche. 


  • 1 lb tuna; skinned, deboned, and cubed
  • 1/2 lb cooked shrimp, sliced
  • 3/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 piece cucumber, peeled and diced (optional)
  • 1 piece medium carrot, julienne (optional)
  • 1 piece green mango, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lime or calamansi juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red chilies, chopped

  1. Place the cubed tuna meat in a large bowl then pour-in half the amount of vinegar.
  2. Let stand for 2 minutes then gently squeeze the tuna by applying a little pressure.
  3. Gently wash the tuna meat with vinegar. Drain all the vinegar once done.
  4. Add the remaining amount of vinegar,and the rest of the ingredients then mix well.
  5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime. Serve chilled.


  • Add shrimp to give your kinilaw more texture and flavor
  • Anchovies can also be used in place of tuna
  • Enrich your kinilaw by adding other vegetables such as bell pepper, cucumber, and carrots.
  • Give your kinilaw a fruity kick by adding green mangoes.
  • To make your kinilaw more spicy, double the amount of ginger.


  1. I like fish salad with little bit rice as my Takeaway Menu. These salads are high with food value and can give us the best proteins supplements also. This recipe seems to me a different one also. I have shared this with my wife and told her to make this at home.

    1. Thank you, James for sharing my recipe to your wife. My husband really loves this dish. Happy cooking and healthy eating to you and your wife!

  2. This is a great dish; it works so well as a takeaway/lunch item if you put it in a little thermos to keep it cold. And it really is best enjoyed with some warm rice, in my opinion. We've used all kinds of fish here in the Philippines, but tuna is definitely the best. The biggest key is to get something that can be easily boned, and isn't white fish meat.

  3. Hi. My parents introduced this dish to me as a youngster in the late 90's. Known to me as Kinilau. Cubed deboned snapper or mullet. Yes Mullet. Shark Bay Western Australian mullet. Has to be fresh. Only difference I can see in recipe is sliced cherry or grape tomatoes & coconut milk. Experimentation is ok but so is tradition. Sliced chilies, red onion, cucumber. Find the balance you like between extra ingredients but get essential ones right first. Bon appetite!

  4. Pleased to know about this information on yummy recipe. Couple of months ago, I arranged a family get together party at my place and prepared food for them by learning new tips on cooking from Nom. Everyone liked all dishes very much.