Tag Archives: fish

How to clean fish: fish fabrication for beginners

I can’t forget the day our school taught us how to fabricate fish. I already knew the basics of fish fabrication—the culinary term for butchering or cutting the fish into the desired parts you want—because at home, if the househelp’s not there and my mom forgot to have the fish fabricated before bringing it home, I have the duty to remove its gills, scales, and insides.

At first, the smell was unbearable.  I had to wash my hands multiple times, even to the point of taking a bath just to remove the fishy smell.  If you have a weak stomach, then this job isn’t really for you.  Good thing I was used to these kinds of things.

raw fish fabrication
Whoa smelly

That day in school, when all of my classmates had to fabricate a single fish, I ended up doing two.  I was so confident in doing the first one that I really took my time, from scaling it to removing the bones.  My instructor happened to be very strict.  He even counted the bones, because some fish have specific number of bones in them.  I actually took the wrong fish! What I fabricated was the fish that we’ll use for our dishes and not the fish that’s supposed to be our test.  I only had a few more minutes left, and had to redo the whole thing :O

On to today’s lesson: for the beginner, my first advice is to get yourself a sharp knife.  Actually, if you’re really interested in cooking, good knives are worth the investment.  I collect some myself because they make my life a lot easier at the kitchen.  There are other tools that you can use when scaling a fish, but I still do the old method, which is to use the back of the knife and rub it on the opposite direction of the scales.

Try practicing too on fish like tilapia and milkfish.  They’re easy to fabricate and you don’t really need to remove a lot of things, unless you’re filleting them.

When you start fabricating a fish, try doing it in running water.  Make sure the water’s not too powerful, just strong enough so that while gutting the fish, all the blood and other remnants will easily come out.

Removing the gills takes some force.  It’s a little bit tricky because you might pull the whole head of the fish in the process.  Feel it first.  If the fish is fresh, you’d still see the gills and its whole diaphragm.  After feeling it, give it a one pull.  If not, then you can put it in running water and just remove whatever’s left inside the head.

Cutting the insides of a fish is easier than you think.  Just make sure you have a sharp knife and cut a few centimeters away from the stomach itself.  With milkfish, avoid cutting too near the stomach because there’s fat around it, which is a favorite among Filipinos. Again, you’ll need to feel the insides of a fish.  Insert your hand into the tiny, slanted cut you made and locate the intestines, liver and stomach content of the fish.  If you’re able to do so, make sure that in one pull you’ll be able to take out everything.  But in case something bursts inside, like maybe the liver, don’t worry, because you can always clean it with running water.

After removing the insides, and scaling the fish, the last thing you’ll have to do is cut the fins (wings).  I like to cut them because when you fry a fish, they spread and I don’t like the look of it.  There are some people, though, who like to eat them,  so it’s really up to you.  But seriously, just cut a few centimeters off and it’ll make the fish look prettier.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Bohol: where to go

My husband and I dream of travelling the world. But since we need to dedicate more time to raising our kids for now, we’ll start by exploring our beautiful country.

My favorite local destination by far is Bohol. The people are warm and friendly, the province hasn’t (yet?) been commercialized. We love the shores of Panglao because unlike Boracay, it’s not crowded. It’s just pure waves and peace.

To make sure we go to the best places, we hired a tourist guide/driver named Mang Henry who was highly recommended by a friend. We went to a lot of beautiful places which we all loved. But there were five exceptional ones that I would like to share:

1. Bee Farm

Yes, you got that right. It’s a farm full of bees! But don’t worry, the bees are housed in boxes. During the tour though, the lady took out a wooden sheet full of bees. I learned that there’s always only one queen bee per box. The rest are what they call “workers”, i.e. the ones responsible for making honey. If you’re not scared of bees, they will allow you take photos with them for free. However, if a bee stings you, you have to pay a particular fee because bee stings, apparently, relieve various ailments.

This “farm” does not only house honey bees. They also have a variety of plants and flowers, a restaurant and an ice cream shop! More than seeing the bees, eating their Malunggay flavored ice cream is the better part of the trip. It’s delicious and not to mention very healthy.

2. Dolphin Watching

We rented a boat (with a boatman of course!) who picked us up very early in the morning to spot some Dolphins in the middle of Panglao’s sea. We met up with a other boats in the middle of the sea to wait for dolphins. After a short wait, there were dolphins everywhere! They jumped so quickly so it’s hard to get a good picture if your camera is low-tech like mine. However, I was lucky enough to take one good photo (below). I was so happy because it was my first time to see dolphins in their natural habitat, and here in the Philippines! 🙂

3. Snorkeling in Balicasag Island

My husband and I were thinking twice about going snorkeling, which is part of the “sea tour”, together with the Dolphin-sight seeing. We were hesitant because we had to pay extra for the use of snorkeling gear. However, the boatman encouraged us to try it out so we gave in, thinking that this may be a once in a lifetime experience. And boy were we MESMERIZED! The view of the corals and fishes from the boat did not compare when we actually dove in the shallow part of the ocean. We had a very good view of the beautiful sea creatures (some fishes were already touching my skin)! I wish I had an underwater camera to capture the colorful world underwater! Like what the boatman said to us, “highly ricomended po talaga!”.

4. Tarsiers

We wouldn’t miss seeing Tarsiers in their home land. I saw a Tarsier once in a zoo but it was in a cage and I didn’t see much movement. In the tarsier spot that we visited, we were allowed go near them. I thought they were like babies: quiet, mild and gentle. But I was shocked when I was about to take a picture with one. It suddenly jumped and skipped around like a hyper toddler! Despite my fear, I still find them cute. 🙂

Just a note, please be careful when taking photos. Tarsiers are very sensitive that camera flashes can scare, or worse, kill them.

5. Chocolate Hills

I remember my SIBIKA book dubbed this place, together with Mayon Volcano and Rice Terraces, as one of the magagandang tanawin sa Pilipinas. And, seeing it for the first time, I could say that it’s a beautiful place indeed! It’s so amazing how the hills are formed and how they cover a vast area of Bohol. The only thing I did not like about seeing the place is the many steps we had to climb to get a good view of the hills.

with Mang Henry (middle)

If you need a Bohol tourist guide, feel free to call Mang Henry at 0921 476 9771. 🙂

This post was written by Maan Bello-de los Reyes.

It’s a grilled night-out

Dining out can be taxing at times. It feels a burden sometimes to think of where to eat, and or what everybody wants to eat. We usually end up in the same restaurant, eating the same food almost all the time. We’re often caught up with the idea of settling with our “favorites” instead of trying out something new. Location is also something that we consider, especially here in Pampanga, where there are but a few restaurants that actually serve good food.

A couple of days ago, we were celebrating two occasions, so we wanted to try something different. We’re tired of eating food that’s peppered with so many ingredients and been sitting in marinated sauce for awhile. Korean Barbecue came into mind.

Korean Barbecue or better known in Korea as Gogigui literally means grilling meat. You order whatever meat you want, including fish and seafood and they serve it to you raw. Your table is equipped with a griller in the middle and you cook your food yourself.

My sister likes to do Gogigui because it makes her feel like she can actually cook. I like it too because I’ve always considered grilling as one of the healthiest forms of cooking. In Korean Barbecue, most meats are given to you as is, not soaking in marinated sauce and or coated with so many herbs and spices.

In the Philippines, Bulgogi is one of the more popular forms of Gogigui. But you should know that there are different forms of Gogigui depending on the meat that you’re grilling. I personally love Galbi and Chaldolbegi. The meats are thinly sliced and are not marinated in any sauce.

But I find that the Japanese raised this form of grilling to a higher level, by way of Teppanyaki and Hibachi. I like going to Hibachi places because there’s a chef in front o f you who will do all the cooking while you watch your food getting cooked. If you’re into Japanese cuisine, they also have their own version of Korean barbecue. Theirs is called Yakiniku. There’s actually an ongoing debate on where grilled meat originated: was it really the Koreans who first introduced it, and then adopted by the Japanese, or the other way around? If you ask me, this is like the issue about the chicken and the egg—a debate that will never end.

If you want, you can try this at home. There are personal-sized grillers that are being sold in the market. Prepping is a little bit tedious, but imagine the fun your family will have at the dining table, cooking your own food and eating it straight off the grill.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Let’s go beyond fried food! Here’s a recipe for sinigang na salmon sa miso

Sinigang na salmon sa miso
Sinigang na salmon sa miso

I did have my stint at culinary school, but I feel in my heart that my passion for cooking is genetic. How else would I learn how to cook regular dishes without any supervision or a recipe book in front of me? I rely on both of my sense of taste and sight. My mom always tells me that her mom didn’t teach her neither, it just came naturally. But I do study to learn the basics (what to do and what not to do) and also to acquire further knowledge in cooking and baking. And one thing that I love about cooking is that you discover something new in the kitchen every time you cook.

Not everybody is meant to be the queen of the kitchen, but I know that for most of the people out there, they don’t really have a choice because they’re married or living on their own. Not all of us can afford help, go through a culinary course, or order take out foods every day. That’s why I feel bad when I hear my friends tell me that all they feed their children is fried food. Honestly, it took me a while to perfect the art of cooking fried chicken, but frying is the simplest form of cooking for most of the moms out there.

It will be good if once in a while you’ll feed your love ones something nutritious aside from fried chicken, fried eggs and hotdogs. They need nourishment and it’s about time that you man-up and start familiarizing yourself with different types of cooking.

You don’t need to be a Martha Stewart; Rachael Ray is fine (Rachael Ray did not graduate from any culinary school). Don’t be discouraged when you don’t succeed during your first try. It takes a while, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that the kitchen is not as frightening as it used to be. Here’s one recipe you could try:

Sinigang na Salmon sa Miso

Ingredients for sinigang na salmon sa miso
Ingredients for sinigang na salmon sa miso

1 kilo of Salmon (whatever part is available in the market will do)
1 pack of Sinigang sa Miso mix
Onions, ginger
Talbos ng kamote (or, if you prefer, kangkong)
2 cups of water

Usually in sinigang, you just boil the meat and then add the vegetables and the sinigang mix. I find that it tastes better when you sauté it first with onions and tomatoes, but since I’m using fish and Miso mix, I’ll use ginger instead of tomatoes. Ginger is pampatangal ng lansa, so you don’t really need to put a lot. Depending in the part of fish that you’ll use make sure to mix it gently because you don’t want to end up with a mushy fish in your soup. Put at least two cups of water, and if you want it to be more soupy, then you can add more water. Just make sure to taste everything along the way. Then pour in the sinigang mix, plus the vegetables. Wait for it to boil, then it’s done.

Sinigang na isda usually doesn’t take long to cook. You just have to make sure that your vegetables are cooked, and you’re ready to serve your Sinigang. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me here. I’ll try my best to answer all of your queries. Until next time!

 This post was written by Rita Salonga.