Fish from the tuna family are a favorite in the Philippines. Mindanao Island, the 2nd largest island in the archipelago, has a thriving tuna industry. The best tuna ends up being exported to Japan and other developed Asian countries. Often, high quality tuna caught in the morning ends up as dinner in another country on the same day.
There are other species of tuna that grace Filipino dining tables. Aside from tuna, smaller species are also available in the markets. Tambakol and tulingan are good examples. Tulingan is a small to medium sized variety while a single tambakol can easily reach 1 kilogram or more.
Frying is the most common way to prepare fish, but if a more saucy dish is preferred cooking in gata or in tomatoes is not uncommon. The resulting sauce pairs well with plain rice.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Good for: 2 – 3 people
- 500 grams tulingan; gutted and tailbone broken off. You may also use fresh sliced tuna.
- 500 grams grated mature coconut meat or 2 cups canned coconut cream
- 2 pieces long green chili
- 1 tablespoon rock salt
- 100 grams ginger grated
- 100 grams chopped garlic
- 200 grams chopped onions
- 50 grams chopped scallions or shallots
- 10 grams birds eye chili or any hot chili will do.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooking oil
Clean tulingan or tuna well. Make sure that gills are removed and the stomach cavity is clear of any trace of guts.
Rub rock salt on fish and set aside for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a frying pan. Fry fish until brown on both sides.
Set aside fried fish.
Traditional recipes omit frying and just simmer the fish in the coconut milk. If you opt to do it this way, make sure you maintain the water level to cook the fish evenly.
Add ½ cup of hot water to the grated coconut meat. Mash well then sieve and collect the resulting liquid. This is called “kakang gata”.
Add 1 cup of hot water to the grated coconut meat and let it steep for 2 minutes. Mash well and sieve out the resulting liquid. This is the 2nd pressing.
Sauté garlic, onion and ginger in another pan.
Once the onions start to sweat add the liquid from the 2nd pressing of the coconut meat.
Once the liquid starts simmering add the fried fish.
Cover pan and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the “kakang gata” and green chili, mix well and let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes. You may also add the bird’s eye chili at this point.
Add salt and pepper to preferred taste.
You may simmer the sauce until you reach the desired thickness. Make sure you use the lowest heat setting to avoid burning the sauce.
Top with scallions before serving.