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Pinangat na Tilapia – Fish Stew in Tomatoes

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Pinangat or Pangat na Isda is a fish entrée which is cooked by boiling and simmering with souring ingredients. This Pinangat na Tilapia was a classic Filipino dish often cooked by my mom using tomatoes my dad grew in our backyard. Later, when I got married and was cooking my own meals, I was inspired by mom’s pinangat and cooked the farm-raised tilapia from the fish ponds of my husband’s family in our home province, Tarlac. It was the right blend of sour and tangy broth permeating through the sweet, white flesh of the fish that we relished the most. These flavors were wonderful to pair with the simplicity of a steaming mound of boiled rice on our plates. Best of all, cooking pinangat was one of the easiest ways to cook fish. All you needed to do was to layer the ingredients and fish in the stockpot and in minutes the meal was ready.

For this fish stew, I used organic Jersey tomatoes from my neighborhood supermarket. The beauty of this dish is that there are no hard and fast rules. You can use any type of tomatoes. Or add any variety of white fish available. You can also add vegetables in season. In the Philippines, there are more layers of sourness added. Some folks use kamias (bilimbi) or tamarind to add to the tart flavors. In my American kitchen, I added more tomatoes in the absence of kamias or tamarind. The stew turned out the right degree of tartness which elicited that grimace from everyone who savored the dish – a true sign the pinangat was perfect.

Like this dish, life is a mix of the tart, the sour, the spicy and the sweet, blended well with the basic everyday humdrum of routine activities. And like day-to-day living, we take it all in one scoop, a spoonful at a time…relishing the differences in flavors, the disparities showing us sharp contrasts in situations, people and life itself. It is this ability to discover and savor it all that helps us welcome everything and anything life throws at us. And when that happens, first you grimace, then you smile.

Pinangat na Tilapia - Fish Stew in Tomatoes

Pinangat na Tilapia is one of the easiest ways to cook fish by simmering with tomatoes or ingredients that can give that burst of tartness that defines any pangat dish. Simply layer the tomatoes with the fish and other ingredients. Then pour the broth and season. In minutes, this meal is ready. This is an Asian in America recipe. Serves 2 as a main course or up to 4 as a side dish.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time23 minutes
Total Time43 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Filipino Pinangat Tilapia Stew
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 186kcal
Author: Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Large Stockpot : 6 or 8 quarts


  • 2 to 2.5 pounds fresh tilapia whole fish, cleaned, scales removed (or use fillets)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice juice of one whole piece
  • 5 to 6 whole tomatoes sliced
  • 1 whole onion sliced
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic peeled, minced
  • 1 knob fresh ginger peeled, sliced in 1-inch pieces, about 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 Tablespoon patis fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups fish or vegetable broth
  • 3 teaspoons salt divided, use 2 teaspoons to marinate fish, the rest to season broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley coarsely chopped, for garnish


  • Prepare the cleaned fish by scoring the outer skin with 1 to 2 slits diagonally. Marinate the fish with lemon juice and 2 teaspoons salt all over for 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  • In a large 6-quart size stockpot or one where the whole fish (or fillets) can fit, layer about 3 sliced tomatoes at the bottom. Lay the slices flat, without overlapping.
  • Place the whole fish (or fillets) on top of the bottom layer of tomatoes.
  • Over the fish, add the following layers: 2 to 3 sliced tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger.
  • Pour the patis (fish sauce) and the broth. The liquid should just be covering the fish and tomato layers.
  • Season with salt and black pepper powder.
    Cover and cook over high heat, allow the liquid to boil in about 5 to 6 minutes. After the liquid boils, lower heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 15 minutes more or till fish is completely cooked.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve warm with rice.
  • Cook's comments: If tilapia is not available, feel free to use other types of white fish for this recipe. When purchasing fish, I take advantage of the fish monger's free service to clean the fish inside and outside. Don't hesitate to do the same if buying a whole fish with head and tail for this recipe. Fish fillets are also good to use if preferred.
  • Recipe Notes: Tilapia is known as tilapya in Pilipino. This fish variety is from a group of tilapiine cichlids species endemic to African freshwater and was brought to the Philippines to augment food supply. In Philippine rural areas, it is grown in ponds filled with either fresh or brackish water. [from the Philippine Food, Cooking and Dining Dictionary by Edgie Polistico, Anvil Publishing Inc. Philippines]
  • *Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos and  recipe content I wrote, on your website,books, films, television shows or videos  without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website, video, news article,or media outlets mentioned above please ASK my permission, re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]
  • Disclosure: As a participant in the Amazon Affiliate program, some blog posts contain links to products used in the recipe and sold on Amazon. The price stays the same for the readers who wish to purchase these products on my links. I earn a small commission from Amazon which helps maintain the blog expenses. Thanks in advance for your support.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4246mg | Potassium: 2398mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 8505IU | Vitamin C: 142.7mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 2.8mg

Nutrition Notes: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker PotBuy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

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