Kinilaw: How To Make The Original Filipino-Style Fish Ceviche

Kinilaw is a Philippine-born, raw seafood dish similar to ceviche. It involves a cooking process that relies more specifically on vinegar and/or acid fruit juices to denature the ingredients. However, it can also be used to prepare meat and vegetables.

Kinilaw based on meat (usually referred to as kilawin) is more common in the northern Philippines. It uses blanched and lightly grilled meat (not raw). Kinilaw dishes are traditionally eaten before a meal as appetizers, or with alcoholic drinks as finger foods (pulutan).

Although some people eat this with rice, it is better to be eaten with beer or liquor. Take note that you can use any type of fish in this technique. Even fish types, such as tuna can be used. 

Filipino-Style Kinilaw

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Filipino 

The whole preparation and cooking time is 3 hours. This recipe is suitable for at least 6 people. 

The recipe below is the most basic recipe you can follow. However, you can also top your kinilaw with your favorite vegetables like cucumber. Photo credit: @drjopipay /

Filipino-Style Kinilaw Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. Tanigue Wahoo fish, fillet and cut into cubes 
  • 3 1-inch pieces fresh ginger, minced
  • 10 pieces hot chili, Thai chili, or siling labuyo, chopped
  • 20 pieces calamansi
  • 2 medium red onions, finely diced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste

Filipino-Style Kinilaw Instructions

Step 1: Squeeze the calamansi juice into a large bowl. The seeds can be collected using a sieve. Set the seeds aside.

Step 2: Add the sugar, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper in the calamansi juice. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Step 3: Add the chili, ginger, and onion. Stir until all ingredients have mixed well. The raw fish cubes can then be added to the large bowl. Toss until it coats the fish cubes. Let it sit for at least ten minutes.

Step 4: Toss, and try one more time. Add extra salt if necessary. More calamansi juice can also be added if desired. Toss all the ingredients to mix.

Step 5: Cover the bowl loosely, and put it inside the fridge. Let it refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours.

Step 6: Serve with steamed white rice, or as an appetizer.

Filipino-Style Kinilaw Additional Information

  • Per serving, this recipe has 253 calories, 32mg of cholesterol, 99mg of sodium, 26g of carbohydrates, 16  of protein. 
  • This recipe will take 3 hours to prepare entirely. 
  • This recipe will serve up to six people.
  • Calamansi is a small fruit that resembles a key lime. This has a sour juice with a faint, salty flavor. It is a common souring agent in Philippine cuisine, and one of the best ingredients to make ceviche or kilawin.

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About Filipino-Style Kinilaw

Variants, primarily from the northern Philippines, use meat (usually referred to as kilawin to differentiate them from other kinilaw), including goat meat, beef, carabao, pork, and chicken. Unlike kinilaw, kilawin meat is not eaten raw but is cooked by boiling or grilling, or both. These meat pieces are usually rare to medium-rare, although in some cases, the meat is cooked fully.


Ingredients used in seafood and meat kinilaw must be fresh and properly cleaned because the use of raw seafood and partially cooked meat entails health hazards.

If you plan to have an all Filipino-party at home, include this recipe on the table. For more Filipino-style dishes, click here.

Featured Image: @joyloveeat /, @angsarapblog /