Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Paksiw na Bangus at Talong" (Milkfish and Eggplant Poached in Vinegar and Spices)

Milkfish is an important food fish in Southeast Asia. It is the sole living species in the family Chanidae, about seven extinct species in five additional genera have been reported. Scientific name is Chanos chanos. It has a generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance with a sizable forked caudal fin. They can grow to 1.7 m but are most often about 1 meter in length. They have no teeth and generally feed on algae and invertebrates.

They occur in the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific Ocean, tending to school around coasts and islands with reefs. The youngest larvae live at sea for 2–3 weeks, then migrate to mangrove swamps, estuaries and sometimes lakes returning to sea to mature sexually and reproduce. The larvae are collected from rivers and raised in ponds where they can be fed almost anything and grow very quickly, then are sold either fresh, frozen, canned, or smoked.

Milkfish is also a national symbol of the Philippines, where it is called "Bangus". Because milkfish is notorious for being much more bony compared to other food fish in the country, deboned milkfish or "boneless bangus" has become popular and common in stores and markets. The province Pangasinan, particularly in the town of Bonuan is the main source where one can buy the most delicious species of milkfish.

Good for 3 servings

You'll need:
  • a large chunk of ginger, pounded finely
  • 3 cloves of garlic, bruised lightly
  • 1 pc finger chili
  • 3 slices, about 350 grams of milkfish
  • 1 small eggplant, quartered then cut at 2" length
  • 1 tsp of whole peppercorns
  • 1-1/2 tsp of rock salt
  • 1/3 cup native white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup water

Here's how:
Place at the bottom of a porcelain or stainless casserole 2/3 of the ginger, garlic and chili. Add the milkfish, eggplant, whole peppercorns, salt and the rest of the ginger.

Pour the vinegar and water. Do not mix. Cover. Place over medium fire, bring to boil. Swirl the casserole a little to mix the ingredients.

Reduce fire to low, then, simmer for 8 minutes.

I like this dish with garlic fried rice and fish sauce (patis) with crushed chili for your dip

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