Filipinos love fish. The country is an archipelago, after all, and fish and fish products are a main part of the average daily Filipino intake, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute's 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey.
Based on the "Consumption of Selected Agricultural Commodities in the Philippines" – a 2017 report on the food consumption of Filipinos – galunggong (roundscad) was the top fish consumed by 43.29% of Filipino households from 2015 to 2016.
Many local viands have this species of fish as the star of the dish. But did you know that for several years now, the Philippines has been importing galunggong to fill in the local supply gaps of this Filipino favorite?
To mitigate the effects of overfishing in our fishing grounds, closed fishing seasons are implemented in some areas at certain times during the year to allow species like tamban, galunggong, mackerel, and others to spawn and reproduce. Importation is a way to ensure adequate supply of these species during their closed seasons.
Based on the "National Stock Assessment Program: The Philippine Capture Fisheries Atlas" published in 2017, an overview of the exploitation rates of dominant species suggests that most Philippine traditional fishing grounds continue to be impacted by unsustainable fishing activities.
For example, the high exploitation rates of bigeye scad, shortfin scad, Indian mackerel, Bali sardinella, goldstripe sardinella, island mackerel, and roundscad, among others, on average across different fishing grounds suggest unsustainable harvest of these species.
In order to promote sustainable fishing practices, Filipinos can consider cooking farmed species and those that are within optimum exploitation rates, which means they are being fished within a limit still considered sustainable.
As of the second quarter of 2021, the top two farmed fish species are milkfish and tilapia.
In certain fishing grounds, some species are harvested at ideal levels, such as shrimp scad or salay-salay in Sorsogon Bay, mahi-mahi or dolphinfish in Babuyan Channel, and rainbow runner in waters off Aurora.
Here are some Filipino fish recipes you can try at home:
Daing na bangus is a classic breakfast dish for Filipinos. You'll need to butterfly the bangus or slice it from the top, then marinate it in a vinegar solution for several hours before frying it until golden.
It can then be served with sinangag or garlic fried rice, sunny-side-up eggs, pickled vegetables, and spicy vinegar. Try this recipe using baby bangus.
This sweet and sour dish is easy to prepare, requiring simple ingredients and a short prep and cook time. You'll need vinegar, banana ketchup, green and red bell peppers, and carrot, among other ingredients. Check out this recipe.
Sinigang needs no introduction. International food database Taste Atlas even deemed it as the world's best vegetable soup, calling it a "unique soup that is a true representative of Filipino cuisine." You can make this with different kinds of fish, including bangus.
One way to extend the shelf life of fish is to make tinapa. Different species of fish – including tilapia and bangus – are commonly sold as tinapa in markets.
The process involves soaking the fish in brine then smoking or sun-drying them later. Here is one way to make tinapa, according to the Fish Processing Section under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources' Fisheries Post Harvest Technology Division.
You can cook tinapa by frying it and serving it with rice, sliced tomatoes, and fish paste. You can also serve it with fried eggs. Try this recipe.
You can also make tinapa fried rice using smoked fish flakes, duck eggs, garlic, plum tomato, and green onions. Here is one recipe for it.
You can always take the simple route in cooking tilapia. All you need is the fish, salt, cooking oil, and your favorite condiments. Here's one recipe you can try.
However, if you want to take your fried tilapia up a notch, consider making ginataang tilapia with malunggay leaves.
You can cook this simple dish using mahi-mahi fillets, to be cooked in vinegar. In this recipe, the fish is grilled before being cooked in coconut vinegar, making use of some spices as well.
One can also make paksiw using shrimp scad or salay-salay. This recipe cooks the fish with kamias, making it more subtle than if it were to be cooked with vinegar. It is then served with calamansi dip.
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.