Raw Yellowtail with Calamansi and Vinegar

Kinilaw na Isda

Raw Yellowtail with Calamansi and Vinegar
Raw Yellowtail with Calamansi and Vinegar
This image courtesy of Tuttle Publishing

Kinilaw is an indigenous Filipino dish of incredible freshness, usually (but not always) featuring morsels of raw seafood quickly bathed in native vinegar, citrus, or both, and then garnished with any number of sinus-clearing, palate-awakening aromatics and spices including ginger, green onions and chilies.

Although kinilaw can be served with the fish already dressed in the aforementioned fixings, I’ve come to prefer preparing the fish with minimal ingredients, and leaving the rest up to my guests with a vinegar dipping sauce and calamansi limes on the side. Kinilaw customization is king. This recipe can easily be doubled.

Preparation Time15 min


  • 1 pound (500 g) yellowtail, cut into ½-in (1.25-cm) cubes
  • 1-in (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 small lemon, sliced very thin
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1 green onion (scallion) sliced very thin
  • 12 calamansi limes, cut in half
  • 1 recipe All-Purpose Vinegar Dip
  • 2 or 3 Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, gently toss together the fish, ginger, lemon zest and lime zest. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  2. To serve, arrange the lemon and lime slices in layers on a cutting board or serving dish. Pile the prepared fish cubes on top of the citrus slices. Sprinkle with salt to season and garnish with green onions.

  3. Serve the fish with the calamansi halves and All-Purpose Vinegar Dip alongside as condiments and cocktail picks for spearing. Add the sliced chili peppers to the vinegar dip if you like it spicy, or serve them on the side.


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