Saturday, December 14, 2013
Harvesting and Deboning Bangus (Milk Fish)
During my pre-teen years in Iloilo, Philippines, my parents owned a small bangus fish pond. Every year before the rainy season, our fish pond caretaker will inform us that it is time for harvest( pabuhang). I would beg my DAD to take me to the fish ponds so I could witness the bangus jumping as the nets are closing in.
I also remember that along with the bangus caught in the nets, numerous small crabs called talangka were also harvested. These talangka(Asian shore crabs) were very delicious especially its fat that turns red when the crabs are cooked. This is an experience that as a pre-teen child I will never forget. The following video reminds me of my childhood experiences while watching the bangus jumping in the nets during the harvest.
I love to eat deboned and marinated milk fish or bangus. It is one of the most popular fish dish in the Philippines. The milk fish is an important seafood also in Southeast Asia and some Pacific Islands. Because milk fish is notorious for being much bonier than other food fish, deboned milk fish, called "boneless bangus" in the Philippines, has become popular in Pinoy stores and markets here in the US.
Another popular presentation of milk fish in Central Java, Indonesia is "bandeng presto" (ikan "bandeng" is the Indonesian name for milk fish). Bandeng Presto is milk fish pressure cooked until the bones are rendered tender.
Recently, I was wondering why the deboned bangus is very expensive here in Northern California. Now, I know why. Deboning the bangus is time consuming and very tedious. Moreover, the bangus are imported so the shipping and handling costs are added to the price. Here's a video showing how a bangus is deboned (with a sharp knife and forceps).
I will be posting some of my favorite recipes for bangus in this blog soon. Watch for it.