Tinapang Bangus with Sinangag (smoked fish on garlic rice) is so tempting we don’t wait for Lent to have it. It’s more of an indulgence for us here in our home in America, when we don’t have it as often as we did in the Philippines. Tinapa (say ‘tee-nah-pah’) is smoked fish of any kind in the Philippines. I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic. Yet we grew up on this type of Filipino smoked fish as part of our meals. My understanding is that smoking fish was one of the ways to preserve food in hot, tropical climates (like the Philippines). Many homes in the rural, agricultural areas had to find ways to preserve food that required no refrigeration. Salting and smoking fish was one of them.My favorite is the Tinapang Bangus or smoked milkfish because it is larger than most. We can now buy the ‘boneless tinapa’ in Asian groceries here in America. It is quite a treat.
Today, one of the best brunch fares we enjoy is a spread of Tinapang Bangus ( say ‘bang-ngus’) which I pan fry in less than five minutes. The tinapa is already cooked and packaged when I buy it from the Asian grocery. After a quick fry, the golden skin is crisp, so with a knife inserted into the side of the belly, I can open up the fish, butterfly-style to revel at the large portion of salty fish flesh and the dark grayish salty belly in the center, my favorite part. The fish is very salty. It flakes up immediately to the touch of one’s fork. The robust, smoky flavors are a sharp contrast to the simplicity of rice, the sweetness of vine-ripened fresh Jersey tomatoes and eggs on the side. This time, I sliced open some salted duck’s eggs to go with the chopped tomatoes.
The day after this brunch, we had tinapa leftovers. I always view leftovers as an opportunity to start a new dish for another meal. So I flaked what was left of the salted fish and mixed it into garlic rice, chopped tomatoes, onions, added olives and perched the salted egg slices on top. In this Lenten season when penitence and sacrifices are expected of us, may I be forgiven for indulging in this super splendid tinapa feast on garlic rice.
Tinapang Bangus on Sinangag- Smoked Fish with Garlic Rice
- Large Skillet or Wok: 12 inches in diameter
- 3 whole medium-sized Tinapang Bangus (smoked milkfish) boneless (packaged sells 2 or 3 at a time), from Asian markets: or use other types of large smoked fish
- 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil divided, use 2 for pan frying fish, the rest for sinangag (garlic rice)
- 4 cloves garlic peeled, mashed
- 1 whole large onion sliced
- 2 whole tomatoes chopped
- 3 cups cooked rice prefetably white rice; must be at least a day old, refrigerated
- 1/3 cup pitted green olives
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- 2 to 3 whole salted eggs already cooked, sliced, peeled (from Asian markets)
- 1 teaspoon calamansi or lemon juice
- 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
- 1/2 cup cooked green beans sliced into 1-inch pieces
- To prepare the smoked fish: Pan fry the smoked fish in a large non-stick skillet with oil, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning fish over once to cook evenly. (Package directions of Tinapang Bangus also suggest baking the already cooked fish as an alternative). You can serve the fish whole at this point. Or for this sinangag dish, flake the inside flesh.
- To slice open the fish : Slide a knife into the sides. If the smoked fish says 'boneless' on the package, there is already an open slit. Remove the inside flesh with a large spoon.Flake the flesh and belly into shreds. The amount of 3 medium sized smoked milkfish will yield about 1 and 1/2 cups of flaked fish. Set aside for adding to the rice later.
- To cook the sinangag: In a large skillet, over medium heat, saute the garlic. Press the cloves with the back of a cooking spoon so it flavors the skillet and oil. Do this for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onions and tomatoes and saute for 2 to 3 minutes till onions get translucent. Add the olives and the cooked rice. Add the cooked corn kernels and cooked green beans. Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Place the flaked tinapa on top of the rice combination. Sprinkle calamansi or lemon juice all over the rice-fish combination if desired. Garnish with sliced salted eggs.
- Cook’s comments: If tinapang bangus is not available, local neighborhood groceries which have huge inventories carry smoked fish in the seafood section. It may not be bangus (milkfish) but if it has the smoked flavors, then the results will be just as delightful for this recipe.
- Recipe tips : I had leftover buttered vegetables of corn kernels and green beans so I added this to the dish, too. Feel free to add your own preferred chopped vegetables if desired.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of the marinade ingredients. The actual amount of the marinade consumed will vary. The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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