Auntie Joy’s Sinantomas

Technically it is a "poor man's caldereta". The secret is to slowly saute everything in a low-medium fire and use fresh tomatoes.
Food Trip  /   /  By Rica Espiritu  /  362 views

I was fortunate to spend a Christmas weekend at Auntie Joy’s place in San Pablo, Laguna. I was craving for Caldereta when Marife served me this dish. It was called Sinantomas. It was delicious! They said it was a dish that’s unique to people in Laguna. There are two variations to this and this is one of them.

Technically it is a “poor man’s caldereta”. The secret is to slowly saute everything in low-medium fire and use fresh tomatoes. Don’t puree it. If you can chop it finely, do so. That’s what I did or at least tried to do.

This is one of those dishes that cannot be hurried. So do it on a weekend. In fact it has to be done slowly. I guess one of the plus points of cooking this in the province is that cook this over an outdoor stove – kalan. This gives the dish that subtle smoky flavor that can’t be replicated in any indoor kitchen. Not to mention, the low fire part.

1 kilo beef, I used beef shank and short ribs for this one
1 kilo finely chopped tomatoes
2 large onions, chopped
1 head of garlic
Bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
water or chicken broth


  1. Saute garlic till golden, not brown. Add onion and sautee till transluscent. Add tomatoes, sautee for 30 – 45 mins over low fire.
  2. On a separate pan, season the beef in salt and pepper then sear on all sides.
  3. If you have a crock pot or slow cooker, pour in the sauce, add bay leaves [dahon ng laurel] add the beef on top. Set it on low and cook for 7 – 10 hours. Add chicken broth [kinda makes it taste better instead of beef broth], if it lacks water.
  4. If you don’t have a crock pot, add beef to the sauce and keep stirring for an hour, exercising those arm muscles.
  5. Add broth, simmer for 1-2 hours till beef is soft.


  1. I don’t know why, but pureed tomatoes will change the texture and taste.
  2. I tried cooking this with just tomatoes, no tomato sauce or tomato paste. It was tastier.
  3. This is best when the meat has bones since everything is simmered, the sauce will be quite tasty.
  4. I tried it with and without patis. In the end, the portion with patis tasted better for me.
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