kinilaw na isda
Asian,  Filipino,  Fish Recipes,  Home Cooking

Kinilaw (Raw Fish Salad)

Kinilaw or raw fish salad is a popular dish in Northern Mindanao region where seafood is abundant. Kinilaw comes from the word “kilaw”, which means to eat raw.

Popular fish for kinilaw is tuna but you can actually use other fish that includes bangus, dilis, tangigue or tanigue (sea bass), talakitok (cavalla), and lapu-lapu (grouper). Fresh fish is very important in making kinilaw. The fresher the fish, the sweeter its meat is. If it’s not fresh, there is a possibility that it will develop an unpleasant smell and taste.  

During my short vacation in my home town Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, I requested for this dish because I missed it so much. I glut myself in kinilaw for days.  Since fresh catch are sold and delivered by fishermen to the houses, it is easy to get your ingredients for your kinilaw.

kinilaw na isda

Kinilaw is similar to Ceviche in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America, which is made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain (source: wikipedia)  

Photo credit: Wikipedia, Ceviche verde served at the El Bajió restaurant in Azcapotzalco, Mexico City

Kinilaw is being compared to the Japanese sashimi but unlike sashimi, kinilaw is cooked through the vinegar and lime or calamansi concoction.  

Kinilaw is prepared differently in Mindanao. The reason is they used tabon-tabon (Scientific name: atuna racemosa), which removes the “langsa” (fishy smell). Tabon-tabon is native to Northern Mindanao and Camiguin.

Ingredients for kinilaw  

  • Fresh fish, cleaned, deboned and cut into cubes
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped ginger
  • Biasong (lime) or calamansi juice
  • Scraped tabon-tabon, squeeze the juice with vinegar
  • Chilis, chopped (optional)
Photo credit:, tabon, tabon (Scientific name: atuna racemosa)

Cooking Procedure:

  • Rinse the fish with little vinegar. Drain and squeeze the vinegar out.
  • Add the vinegar, chopped onions and ginger, lime or calamansi juice, and the tabon-tabon juice.
  • Add salt, pepper, and chili to your desired taste.

Kinilaw is best served and eaten with grilled pork.