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Pasta Putanesca with Tinapang Bangus

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It’s my son’s birthday today, so like most Filipinos, I traditionally  cook a noodle or pasta dish for long life and prosperity. This Pasta Putanesca with Tinapang Bangus is perfect because my son enjoys fish and seafood a lot.

Bangus or milkfish, my choice of fish for this recipe is commonly found in the Philippines. One of the methods of cooking and preserving it is by way of smoking resulting in smoked fish or what is called ‘tinapa’. In the Philippines, tinapang isda is sometimes smoked in banana leaves or bamboo leaves. This is done over a smoldering fire that has flavored firewood. To smoke the fish, salt and some mild spices are added. One of these spices could be Chinese 5 spice. The fish ends up with a crisp, caramel colored skin and inside the flesh has a robust salty, smokey flavor. Here in America, I buy my Tinapang Bangus or smoked milkfish from the Asian market. It is already pre-cooked and frozen. When I get home, I bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes over a temperature of 375 F degrees and the fish is ready to be served with  steamed rice.

I went a step further and flaked the smoked fish as an ingredient for this pasta dish.  The smokey, salty flavor of the fish complemented the tart sweetness of a tomato sauce base, livened up with capers, juicy black olives and plenty of extra sharp grated cheese.

And for my son, Constante, as you twirl these noodles, we wish you a wonderful birthday. Here’s to another milestone to celebrate. Always remember — birthdays are not for looking back, they’re for lighting those candles and seeing the possibilities that lie ahead. May the year ahead bring you the blessings you deserve.

Pasta Putanesca with Tinapang Bangus

This Pasta Putanesca with Tinapang Bangus is an easy, hearty noodle entree that is a crowd pleaser. To give this Italian dish a Filipino twist, I used Tinapang Bangus flakes or smoked fish. The robust flavor of the fish flakes complemented the sweet tomatoes and sauce base, the savory olives and salty capers. I sprinkled a generous amount of extra sharp grated cheese to round up the pasta meal. This was inspired by a previous blog post and a recipe by Nigella Lawson. Serves 4.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time38 minutes
Total Time48 minutes
Course: Dinner, Fish, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Pasta Putanesca Filipino Tinapa Bangus
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 128kcal
Author: Asian in America - Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Large Stockpot for cooking pasta
  • Large skillet: 12 inches or 14 inches in diameter


  • 1 lb. (454 g.) spaghetti pasta cooked according to directions
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 whole white or yellow onion chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup pasta water saved from cooking pasta
  • 2 cups flaked Tinapang Bangus (smoked milkfish) bones removed, discard skin
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in halves
  • 1 cup black olives canned, pitted (drained)
  • 2 whole large tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated sharp cheddar cheese for topping
  • for serving garlic bread


  •    Cook spaghetti pasta according to package directions, for about 8 minutes, al dente. Do not overcook because you will let this cook with the sauce at the last 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Prepare tinapang bangus: place the whole smoked fish on a shallow pre-greased tray and bake at 375 F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. When fish is cool enough, flake and remove bones. Set aside.
  •      In a large skillet about 12 to 14 inches, over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil. Saute the garlic and onions.
  •      Add the tomatoes, and the tomato paste. Add the pasta water and dilute the tomato paste. Blend well.
  •       Add the flaked fish, olives, capers and seasonings. Cover and let the sauce simmer for  8 to 10  minutes to remove the tartness from the tomato paste.
  •     Once the pasta is cooked, drain a bit, reserving some pasta water for moistening the noodles if it gets dry. Add the pasta to the skillet where the sauce is cooking. Blend ingredients together. Garnish with cheese and  parsley.
  •       Serve warm with garlic bread.
  • COOK'S COMMENTS: Tinapang Bangus or other types of tinapa-smoked fish are sold in Asian markets. Feel free to use other types of smoked fish or pasta preferred for this dish.
  • Hello, Friends! 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 or videos  without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website, video or news article, 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]


Serving: 1g | Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 914mg | Potassium: 177mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 437IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific 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 Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. I also have more classic recipes inspired by my mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

Copyright Notice: 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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