Ginataang Tulingan is a Filipino curry dish of “Tulingan” or Skipjack Tuna cooked with vegetables like eggplants, bok choy and moringa leaves in a rich creamy sauce infused with a “siling labuyo” or wild chili. It’s a dish common in the province of Bicol where three of its main ingredients are abundant, the tuna and coconut.
It’s a good dish and I grew up with this as my mother or my grandmother regularly cooks this for weekend lunch. I still remember they sometimes used a different fish because in Manila tuna is quite expensive but in Bicol it’s a different story. Seafood there was cheap if you can’t get them for free, which brings back to my childhood memory of the place.
I still remember when I was 7 years old, I visited their town in the province of Bicol called Caramoan, it’s a totally remote coastal area in a peninsula where there was no proper roads leading to it coming from the main land. During those days it was accessible only via 2 hour boat ride and it was amazing, so glad to have experienced this. I still have vivid memories of the place because it was so pristine during those times where you see a lot of fauna and flora. I remember on that boat ride one instance tons of flying fish flew out of the water by the side of the boat, then when we were on the dock you can literally see the bottom of the ocean because it was clear. The clarity was amazing you see all of the sea creatures beneath like sea urchins, star fish and even the world’s smallest commercial fish called sinarapan. On the road you see mud crabs just happily walking with you on the sidewalk, it was surreal. If that happened today I will definitely grab tons of those crabs for dinner.
I also remember going to the market with my Aunt and saw these fresh produce and seafood inexpensively sold, I still remember the price of blue marlin was Php 10.00 a kilo when it was Php 300.00 a kilo already in Manila. Sadly things have changed and I see this place is now highly commercialized, I remember the beach front where I used to swim is now a resort, the roads are now paved and I guess the best thing that only happened was the installation of electricity (the electricity was not for everyone before, so we have to sleep once it turns dark).
Anyways like I said I was lucky to have experienced that place before today, I haven’t been to the place since then but I think I will pay it a visit when I plan a vacation in the Philippines in the future meanwhile I will just reminisce with a dish that made me recall of those memories.
- 1 kg Skipjack Tuna or any other oily fish like Albacore Tuna, Large Mackerel and Bonito, cut into 1.5 inch thick pieces
- 2 medium eggplant, sliced
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup coconut cream or kakang gata
- ⅓ cup vinegar
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6 pcs siling labuyo or birds eye chillies
- thumb sized ginger, thinly sliced
- freshly ground black pepper
- fish sauce
- In a large non-stick wok add oil then sauté garlic, ginger and onion.
- Add the fish and vinegar then simmer in high heat until the vinegar has reduced to half of it's volume, this will take around 5 minutes or less.
- Add the coconut milk, coconut cream, chillies and eggplant bring to a boil then lower heat to medium and simmer for 12-15 more minutes or until sauce thickens.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper and fish sauce then serve.