Kinilaw na tanigue with tabon-tabon and biasong
Alternative namesPhilippine ceviche, kilawin, kilau, kinilau, lataven, binakhaw
Place of originPhilippines
Serving temperatureRoom temperature, cold
Main ingredientsSeafood/vegetables, vinegar, calamansi (or other sour fruits), onion, ginger, salt, black pepper
Variationskilawin, lawal, biyaring
Similar dishesHinava, 'ota 'ika, kelaguen, poke, ceviche

Kinilaw (pronounced [kɪnɪˈlaʊ] or [kɪˈnɪlaʊ], literally "eaten raw") is a raw seafood dish and preparation method native to the Philippines.[1] It is sometimes also referred to as Philippine ceviche due to its similarity to the Latin American dish ceviche.[1][2] It is more accurately a cooking process that relies on vinegar and acidic fruit juices (usually citrus) to denature the ingredients, rather than a dish, as it can also be used to prepare meat and vegetables.[3] Kinilaw dishes are usually eaten as appetizers before a meal, or as finger food (Tagalog: pulutan) with alcoholic drinks.[4] Kinilaw is also sometimes called kilawin, especially in the northern Philippines, but the term kilawin more commonly applies to a similar lightly grilled meat dish.[5]


The most common kinilaw dish is kinilaw na isda ("fish kinilaw") prepared using raw cubed fish mixed with vinegar (usually coconut vinegar or cane vinegar) as the primary denaturing agent; along with a souring agent to enhance the tartness like calamansi, dayap (key lime), biasong, kamias (bilimbi), tamarind, green mangoes, balimbing, and green sineguelas. It is flavored with salt and spices like black pepper, ginger, onions, and chili peppers (commonly siling labuyo).[1][3] An average serving of fish kinilaw contains just 147 calories.[6]

To neutralize the fishy taste and acidity before serving, juice extracts from the grated flesh of tabon-tabon, dungon, or young coconuts are also commonly added. Tannin-rich extracts (tungog) from the bark scrapings of bakawan trees (Rhizophora mangroves) or sineguelas are also used similarly.[7][1] Some regional variants also include gatâ (coconut milk), sugar, or even soft drinks to balance the sourness.[5][3]

Fish are primarily used, ranging from tanigue or tangigue (Spanish mackerels, king mackerel, or wahoo), malasugi (marlins or swordfish), tambakol, bangus, shark, and anchovies.[4][8][9] Other variants include shrimp, squid, clams, oysters, crabs, sea urchin roe, seaweed, jellyfish, shipworms (tamilok) or even beetle larvae.

Seafood must be fresh and properly cleaned, mitigating health hazards involved with consuming raw seafood.[4][10] Some like squid, however, must be blanched to tenderize the flesh.[11]


See also: Kulawo and Kinilnat

Kinilaw also refers to dishes using raw fruits and vegetables marinated in vinegar and spices, in which case the dishes are sometimes referred to by the Spanish term ensalada ("salad"). Examples include pipino (cucumber), ampalaya (bitter melon), young camote leaves, young papaya, pako (fern), and banana flowers.[5][1]


Tabon-tabon fruits

Kinilaw is native to the Philippines. The balangay archaeological excavation site in Butuan (dated c. 10th to 13th century AD) uncovered remains of halved tabon-tabon fruits and fish bones cut in a manner suggesting that they were cubed, thus indicating that the cooking process is at least a thousand years old.[1][3] It was also described by Spanish colonists and explorers to the Philippines, with the earliest mention being in the Vocabulario de la lengua tagala (1613) as cqinicqilao and cquilao,[8] a Hispanicized spelling of the Visayan verb kilaw ("to eat raw"), and a cognate of the adjective hilaw ("raw", "uncooked", or "unripe").[12][13][14] Other sources that mention it include the Vocabulario de la lengua Pampanga en romance (1732) as quilao; and in the 1754 edition of Vocabulario de la lengua tagala as quilauin.[3]

Unlike Latin American ceviches, which exclusively use citrus juices (which are not native to the Americas), kinilaw instead primarily uses a combination of vinegar and citrus (native to tropical Asia), and other acidic fruit juices.[3][8]

Regional names and variants

Some of the oldest surviving kinilaw variants are from the southern Visayas and Northern Mindanao, like Cagayan de Oro's kinilaw (sometimes stylized as kinilaw de Oro) and Dumaguete's binakhaw. Both are direct descendants of ancient Visayan preparation methods as displayed in the Butuan archeological finds. These are the original versions that use tabon-tabon and dungon fruits respectively.[15][16]

Several regions of the Philippines have local specialties or names of kinilaw dishes. In the northern Philippines, the Ivatan people of the Batanes islands refer to kinilaw as lataven. Fish lataven is known as lataven a among (also spelled lataven a amung).[17][3] In the southern Philippines, the Tausug people of the Sulu islands refer to fish kinilaw as lawal. Unlike other kinilaw dishes, lawal uses vinegar only to wash the fish, and uses citrus fruits and other souring agents to denature the fish meat.[17][18] Among the Sama-Bajau people, it is known as kilau or kinilau and sometimes includes unripe mangoes as a souring agent. Among the Maranao people of southwestern Mindanao, biyaring is a type of kinilaw made with tiny shrimp. It is a regional favorite and is notable because it is ideally prepared while the shrimp are still alive.[19][20]

A common way of serving kinilaw in the islands of Visayas and Mindanao is sinuglaw, which combines fish kinilaw (usually tuna) and charcoal-grilled pork belly (sinugba).[21]

See also

  • Kelaguen - Chamorro dish derived from kilawin


  1. ^ a b c d e f Alan Davidson (2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. OUP Oxford. pp. 445–446. ISBN 9780191040726.
  2. ^ The Appetizer Atlas: A World of Small Bites, p. 189
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ninah Villa (June 27, 2015). "Kinilaw History, Origin and Evolution – Into the Heart of Freshness". Pinoy Wit. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Kinilaw na Malasugi / Swordfish Seviche". Market Manila. April 23, 2006. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Elena Peña (June 24, 2016). "Wow! Kinilaw". The Philippine Star. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  6. ^ "Calories in Fish Kinilaw and Nutrition Facts". Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  7. ^ "Tabon Tabon Fruit". Market Manila. January 8, 2008. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Kinilaw". Eat Your World. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "Kinilaw na Tanigue".
  10. ^ Clinton Palanca (March 12, 2015). "How to make 'kinilaw'–from the 'kinilaw mast". Inquirer. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  11. ^ "Kinilaw na Pusit (Marinated Squid)". Jinkzz's Kitchen. September 10, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  12. ^ "Kinilaw". Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  13. ^ "Kelaguen/Kilawin". Saint Fidelis Friary. March 9, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  14. ^ "History of Kinilaw". Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  15. ^ Taguchi, Yasunari Ramon Suarez (May 18, 2018). "Versions of the "Kinilaw"". The Freeman. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  16. ^ Mapa, Tata (July 5, 2016). "Everything you need to know about kinilaw". waytogo. Archived from the original on December 31, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Filipino fish and seafood dishes - L". Glossary of Filipino Food. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  18. ^ Edgie B. Polistico (December 18, 2010). "Pinoy Food and Cooking Dictionary - K". Edgie Polistico's Encyclopedic Philippine Food, Cooking, and Dining Dictionary. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  19. ^ Michael Jansen (January 14, 2013). "Great Muslim Dishes in Small Towns". Muslim Academy. Archived from the original on June 4, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  20. ^ "Biyaring or Kinilaw na Hipon". Maranao Recipe. November 23, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  21. ^ "Sinuglaw". Panlasang Pinoy. Retrieved September 24, 2019.