History and Culture

The 3 Tales of Kinilaw That You Probably Have Not Heard Of (Part 3)


Belle Piccio
Belle Piccio | Oct 23, 2015

Did you know that there’s a difference between “kinilaw” and “kilawin"? Although both are derived from the Visayan term “kilaw” which means “eaten fresh,” there’s still a distinction between the two. Kinilaw is prepared with raw fresh meat while “kilawin” is made with an ingredient that has already been cooked by heat.

One of the secrets in making a delicious kinilaw is in the way you slice the raw meat. You must use a very sharp knife!

When slicing the fish, expect the meat to stiffen because of the vinegar. Tunas can be sliced into big cubes while other seafood such as lobsters or large squids must be sliced carefully and thinly.

Kinilaw na Tuna; photo by Ida Damo


Kinilaw Seaweeds

READ: 4 Must-Trys Seafood Dishes in Sagay City

Now for the last part, let’s learn about the story of the King and his Royal Cook. Here’s another story that I like most:

The King and His Royal Cook

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 on 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 sili. 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.


There are also the tales of The Fisherman and then the Datu and the Cook. Do you know any folklore about the Filipino’s favorite kinilaw? Or do you have any favorite kinilaw recipe? Share it with us!

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