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For No-Meat Fridays, Try These Fun Fish Recipes Using Everyone’s Favorite Bangus

Starting March 6 this year, the Lenten season is as good a reason as any to eat more fish. Whether you consider it a Lenten sacrifice or simply an excuse to eat healthier, fish dishes can be as versatile and flavorful as any meat or chicken dishes.

Bangus or milkfish is one such fish that has become a staple in most Filipino households. Aside from its versatility, milkfish is available all year round, easy on the pocket, and a healthy and flavorful substitute to recipes that call for red meat, whether grilled, boiled, braised, or fried.

When buying and handling bangus, here are a few useful pointers:

  • Make sure to buy bangus farmed in salt water. Milkfish grown in salt water have flesh that is sweeter, more flavorful, firmer, and cleaner. 
  •  Thaw frozen milkfish overnight or throughout the day in the refrigerator. Trying to speed up the thawing process by using the microwave, soaking it in running water, or simply leaving it at room temperature not only encourages the growth of harmful bacteria but also destroys the fish’s delicate texture and compromises its flavor.

 

If you’re tired of cooking the usual fried daing or paksiw na bangus, then try these three flavorful recipes by Aby Nachura that give our favorite local fish some fresh new twists.

 

 

Smoked Bangus Rice with Chorizo and Pineapple Salsa

Serves 6 

  • 5 pieces sweet chorizo or longanisa
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled then quartered
  • 1 large  smoked bangus, golden fried then flaked
  • 5 cups cooked rice, preferably day-old rice
  • reserved syrup from pineapple tidbits
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt        
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 large eggs, scrambled then coarsely chopped                                  

 

1. In a large wok or frying pan, lightly fry sweet chorizo in cooking oil until cooked through. Set aside chorizo then cut into chunks. 

 

2. In the same pan and oil, sauté garlic and shallot for about 1 minute. Add flaked bangus, chorizo chunks, cooked rice, and reserved pineapple syrup. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes. 

 

3. Add salt, pepper, and chopped scrambled eggs. Mix well.  

 

4. Divide fried rice into 6 individual bowls. Top with pineapple salsa (recipe below). 

 

PINEAPPLE SALSA:           

  • 1 can (227 grams) pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve syrup for fried rice)
  • 1 ripe mango, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
  • 1/2 singkamas, diced
  • 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
  • 5 stalks cilantro, coarsely chopped   
  • salt and pepper, to taste                                            

 

In a medium bowl, mix pineapple tidbits, mango, onion, singkamas, lime or lemon juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before serving. 

 

Bangus Belly Donburi 

Serves 6

  • 1/2 kilo boneless bangus belly, cut into 6 
  • 1/4 cup calamansi juice
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Japanese soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 6 cups steamed rice
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese seven-spice (nanami togarashi)
  • 1 stalk leeks, sliced thinly

 

1. Marinate bangus belly in calamansi juice and 1 tablespoon of the Japanese soy sauce for 30 minutes. 

 

2. Dredge each bangus fillet in flour and sear each side over high heat for about 1 minute. 

 

3. In a medium saucepan, sauté onions in oil. Add chicken stock, remaining Japanese soy sauce, sugar and mirin. Simmer sauce for 3 to 5 minutes. 

 

4. Add bangus belly fillet and continue to simmer over low fire for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from direct fire. 

 

5. Arrange steamed hot rice in 6 individual bowls. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon seven spice. Spoon some sauce over rice. 

 

6. Top with bangus belly and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Garnish with sliced leeks.

 

 

Boneless Bangus Inasal with Annatto Rice

Serves 6 

  • 2 to 3 boneless bangus, butterflied
  • 1/2 cup sinamak vinegar
  • 1 head garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger   
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup annatto oil, for basting (gently steep 1/4 cup annatto seeds in 1/2 cup hot oil for 30 to 45 minutes)
  • siling labuyo (optional)          

                                                              

1. Marinate bangus in vinegar, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, and pepper for 3 to 4 hours, turning several times.

 

2. Over medium heat, pan-grill bangus in a medium pan while basting with annatto oil for 10 to 15 minutes. 

 

3. Serve immediately with sinamak vinegar on the side, some siling labuyo, and annatto garlic rice (recipe below). 

 

ANNATTO GARLIC RICE:

  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 6 cups chilled cooked rice      
  • 1/4 cup annatto oil
  • salt, to taste

    

Sauté garlic in cooking oil over high heat. Add cooked rice and annatto oil. Stir-fry for 5 to 8 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve together with bangus inasal

 

This article first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 3, 2015

Recipes by Aby Nachura

Photos by Justin de Jesus

Styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz