Kinilaw: A Filipino Ceviche and Poké

KinilawKinilaw is a Filipino staple dish. Just like our previous article Poké, raw fish will be used to prepare this dish and like Ceviche an acid will be used to cook the fish. Ceviche uses citrus but Kinilaw preferred vinegar.

A Tale of Kinilaw

There is a tale about the King and his Royal Cook that provides a possible explanation for the invention of Kinilaw. This story is from the Choose Philippines website, as told by Belle Piccio:

In a faraway Kingdom, there was a King who was tired of the usual extravagant feast prepared by his royal cook.

The King asked his most trusted cook, named Eslaw, if he can prepare another delicacy aside from the accustomed dishes served for the past years. Cautious not to offend Eslaw, the King further explained that there’s nothing wrong with the food he prepares and it’s amazing but then if you eat the same dish all the time you’ll get tired of the taste and look for something new.

Eslaw then thought very hard, thinking of new recipes. He checked the royal kitchen to get some ideas and saw a basketful of fresh fish. He cleaned the fish, took only the meat and sliced it. Eslaw placed the fish he prepared in a bowl and poured a generous amount of tuba. He added some salt and to remove the stinky smell of the fish he squeezed fresh calamansi then garnished it with ginger and chili. He then added some spices to make the dish flavorful.

The King heard that the royal cook Eslaw has been experimenting in the kitchen. Excited to taste the new dish for lunch, the king brought his queen and little prince to the royal table to taste it together. The King was astounded of the new dish his royal cook discovered. He exclaimed in vernacular: “Kini Law! Kini akong gipangita. Maayo! Kalami sa pagkaon. Kini Law!” (This is it, Law! This is what I’ve been looking for. Good job! The food is great. This is it, Law!)

A young servant went to the kitchen to get some wine for the royal family while the dish is being served. The older servant asked the young servant about the name of the new dish. The young servant not sure of the name answered “Kini Law?”

The news then spread like wild fire throughout the kingdom about the dish. The dish of the Royal Cook Eslaw called Kini Law.

How to Make Kinilaw – as Easy as 1,2,3

Here’s an easy recipe from Jen Phanomrat in Just Eat Life


  • 1 lb (500 grams) tuna
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) Filipino cane vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lime or 1 kalamansi
  • ¾ cup (150 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 or 2 Thai chillis, sliced
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) grated ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro or coriander for garnish


  1. Cut the tuna steak into small cubes. Marinate the fish in a bowl with vinegar and lime juice for about 5 minutes. Then drain the liquid and set aside.
  2. In another bowl, combine all the other ingredients and then add the tuna.
  3. Garnish with cilantro (or coriander) and lime.

So, next time you have friends around for a drink, surprise them with your newly found skills by serving kinilaw salad as a snack. Your friends will be amazed at the delicious flavors of kinilaw, and how simple it is to make.

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