Monday, June 18, 2012

Sinigang na Bangus (Milkfish in Sour Broth)

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is my second feature of this dish. Sinigang is really just a sour soup with either pork, shrimp or in this case, milkfish. Milkfish is our national fish unless of course it has been changed while I was gone for the last 15 years. In the US, you can buy them frozen in Asian stores although they tend to be a bit expensive and once you find them, eating them might be a bit problematic. The up side you see is that the flavor of milkfish is really wonderful and is a bit sweet. Another prized component is its blackened belly. It cooks to a wonderful buttery texture and it is just divine. However, it is very bony and you need to be able to pick your way through it to eat the flesh without having to worry about any dislodged bones on your throat. One other thing to worry about is its bile sac. You need to make sure that you remove it whole or else, it will flavor the fish with a bitter taste that cannot be removed with washing.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen
They sell deboned milkfish but they are not fit to be used in this kind of preparation. They are better off marinated in soy sauce and garlic and fried until golden and crisp. However, some restaurants use the deboned version for this dish which to me seems a bit strange. It does make it easier to the consumer come eating time but the purist in me is just not buying into this new trend. As such, I'm still featuring this dish since I made it for my Dad for his big day last Sunday since after all, it was Father's Day. For those who would like to try this dish, a good substitute for milkfish will be swordfish steaks or halibut. Water lettuce can also be substituted with baby bok choy which are now readily available in most grocery stores in the US.

Sinigang na Bangus

2 lb milkfish, scaled, gutted and sliced
1 onion, sliced
2-3 Japanese eggplant, trimmed and sliced
1 cup string or green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
2-3 cups water lettuce tips
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in quarters
1 1/2 tamarind bullion
5 cups water
2 tbsp fish sauce, optional
salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 
    until softened. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Add the water and the tamarind bullion and bring to a boil. Lower the heat
    to a simmer and add the eggplant. Cook for about 5-10 minutes or until
    the eggplant is halfway cooked. 

3. Add the fish and tomatoes and season with the fish sauce if using.
    Cook the fish for 3-5 minutes before adding the beans. Continue to
    simmer until the beans have turned bright green and the fish is cooked.

4. Add the water lettuce tips and cook until just wilted. Check for flavor and 
    add more salt if needed. Serve while hot with steamed rice. 

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