Pesa (Fish in Miso Soup)

Pesa is one of the least popular dishes in the Philippines, a humble dish usually made out of boiled fish with miso and vegetables like cabbage and tomatoes. The dish might have originated from the Chinese cuisine as Pesa in Hokkien word means “plain boiled”, the term also is exclusively used for fish meat and not any other meat. Like I mentioned earlier Pesa is not common in the Philippines so don’t go looking for one if you ever visit our country as very few people know this type of dish, the ones who usually know it are the ones with Chinese origin, I learned this from my Auntie, she’s not Chinese) though but she loves cooking and she makes this regularly.

This dish is a very simple fish soup which is really tasty and without the fishy smell once done right, I remember cooking this for the first time for my wife and thought that she would not like it but to my surprise she did gave it a two thumbs up so up until now it is a mainstay in our dinner table once in a while.

Pesa (Fish in Miso Soup)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1½ kg fish (white and fleshy type, bone and head in)
  • ½ small cabbage, chopped
  • 3 bunches pak choy
  • 1 stem leeks
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb sized ginger, sliced thinly
  • ¼ cup yellow miso
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • fish sauce
  • 6 cups water from rice wash (You can do this by rinsing the uncooked rice and reserving the liquid)
  • 8 pcs 1×1 inch nori squares
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • oil
  1. Season your fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. In a wok add oil then once it’s really hot lightly fry the fish, remove from wok then reserve oil.
  3. In a pot add some of the reserved oil, sauté garlic and red onion in medium heat until onions are soft. Add ginger and tomatoes. Continue to stir fry until tomatoes are cooked.
  4. Add 6 cups of rice wash water, miso and peppercorns then bring to a boil.
  5. Add the fish then gently bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes.
  6. Add Pak choy, cabbage, leeks and nori and continue to simmer for additional 4 minutes.
  7. Add fish sauce according to your taste.


You can buy your Yellow Miso in Amazon, here are some links:



7 Responses

  1. Sometimes those simple dishes are the most impressive. I think this soup would be very nourishing especially during the rainy typhoon days. Praying for all of those that a suffering after Typhoon Rammasun has passed by.. Take care, BAM

  2. Kristy says:

    I’ve never heard if fish in miso soup. Miss A loves miso soup. I wonder if she would like this version.

  3. Lovely simle ones!!!
    you’ve never gonna be failed with savoury miso broth Ray….

  4. Ricardo Lopez says:

    indeed pesa lacks the omph of other pinoy dishin taste but in our home in malabon where i grew up, we look forward to my mom cooking pesa because inevitably it will be served with a miso dipping sauce.

    the way my mom does it is boiling the firm white fleshed fish in ginger and onion. then separately, sautee (sangkutsa more than gisa) the miso together with garlic, onion and tomatoes.

    i’m eating it right now 🙂 i was researching what fish best to use in pesa before calling my mom which is why i stumbled onto you blog.

    more power!

  1. January 12, 2016

    […] Pesa, Nilaga, Tinola and Suam. What are the differences among them? I still remember the elder women in my family who cooks the following dishes regularly when I was young and I have quite a grasp on how they differentiate with each other. If you notice tinola and pesa always contains ginger and some leafy vegetables. What I also remember, they uses the water used to wash rice out of its starch giving the soup a slightly thicker consistency compared to nilaga. Pesa and Nilaga becomes similar with each other due to the use of potatoes while Tinola on the other hand uses chayote and / or green papaya. Nilaga and Pesa’s preparation is quite simple as you just need to dump all of the ingredients in the pot together and wait to boil until cooked. Suam and Tinola on the other hand, tends to start with a sautéing process before everything is boiled. Now I’m not sure whether these are the real traditional ways of doing it but these are what I observed from different people who cooks them that I personally know. Do you have other ideas about the differences among the four? If yes let us know by posting below. […]

  2. June 14, 2016

    […] in a wonderful broth infused with ginger, miso and scallions. Imagine this to be somewhere between pesa and sinigang sa miso, it’s a delicate soup that will surely warm you […]

Leave a Reply, your comments are my inspiration

%d bloggers like this: