Bon Appetit Wednesday! Salmon Kilawin (Filipino Ceviche)

kilawinAs winter makes its last stand and readies itself to give way to a much needed spring, you may be in the mood for a dish that reminds you of a warmer, tropical climate. This week we’re bringing you a recipe that will make you feel as if you’re sitting on a beach, sipping a cool drink and taking in the island breezes. Kilawin is a traditional Filipino seafood dish full of healthy, light and delicious flavors. It is prepared similarly to ceviche and so is often referred to as the Filipino Ceviche.

The Philippines is a beautiful island country in Southeast Asia with a rich and storied history. Its traditional cuisine is influenced by all of the cultures that passed through and even called the island home throughout it’s complicated past. Archaeological evidence shows that Arabs, Chinese, Malaysians, Thailanders and Indonesians all came to the archipelago and shared their foods and ways of cooking.[1] And then there were the Spaniards who colonized and ruled the Philippines for nearly 400 years. Ferdinand Magellan claimed the islands for Spain in 1521 and colonization followed soon after. They brought many new foods with them from their travels to the Americas including corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, and pineapples.[2] However, before all of these various cultures put their stamp on Filipino food, the Filipino people had dishes that were all their own. Recipes such as Dinakdakan, Kilawin, Dinengdeng, Inihaw na Isda, Papaitan, Bulalo, and Insarabasab developed on the ancient islands. These traditional recipes still exist today and are a reminder of the unique and vibrant Filipino culture.

Many of the ancient Filipino recipes made use of ingredients that could be found in abundance on the island such as coconuts, mangoes and fish. Foods were boiled, roasted or in the case of Kilawin, marinated and left raw. Packed with nutritional ingredients, Kilawin can be made with several different ingredients. Various types of fish or meat are used including tuna, dilis (anchovies), salmon, shrimp, pork, beef, buffalo and even deer.[3]  Using meat instead of fish, specifically goat, is particularly popular in the Ilocos region.[4] Also, while the word kilawin traditionally refers to uncooked meat or fish, some regions do boil or grill the protein before adding the most important ingredient, vinegar. The vinegar is what essentially “cooks” the meat or fish if it is still raw. If you are making Kilawin in the popular uncooked manner, it is necessary to make sure the fish or meat is as fresh as possible. Chili peppers are also an integral part of the recipe and give the Kilawin a little spice.

The recipe below uses salmon and other ingredients that can be found at your local grocery store.  So indulge in a bit of summer with this warm weather dish.  And for those with cabin fever and a vivid imagination, don’t forget the beach chair and sunscreen.

Salmon Kilawin (Filipino Ceviche)

*Recipe courtesy of Taste le Lopez.


  • 1 pound of sushi grade or high quality boneless salmon
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh ginger, diced
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • lime juice from 3 limes
  • 1 chili pepper, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • cracked black pepper


1. Wash the fish well and slice the fillet into 1/2 inch cubes.

2. Combine the salmon and vinegar in a bowl and cover.  Make sure that the fish is well covered in vinegar. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. Drain the liquid from the salmon and gently squeeze the fish, combine the rest of the ingredients (red pepper, onions, tomato, lime juice, garlic, ginger, chili pepper) and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate again for at least an hour.

2. Joaquin, Nick. (1988). Culture and History: Occasional Notes on the Process of Philippine Becoming. Manila: Solar Publishing.

3. Arthur L. Meyer, Jon M. Vann, The Appetizer Atlas: A World of Small Bites. Wiley, May 27, 2003.

One response to “Bon Appetit Wednesday! Salmon Kilawin (Filipino Ceviche)

  1. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! National Seafood Month | AntiquityNOW

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