Pinangat na Isda
Nangangasim ka na ba? This word is one of the hardest things to translate as it involves a sensation that is not experienced by non-Filipinos. I think the nearest one is drooling but that sensation does not involve the sourness aspect. Pinagat na Isda is one of those dishes that bring out this bodily action, a fish dish cooked in a small amount of potent sour broth with tomatoes and aromatics. Sour broth can be either flavoured by bilimbi or tamarind and unlike sinigang this tends to be more concentrated in taste which gives a similar effect to paksiw na isda but not acidic, fruity and tangy.
Others might be confused as there is also another Pinangat from Bicol where it is cooked with coconut milk, while it’s the same name, it’s a totally different dish. This Pinagat version in its simplest preparation is just combining all ingredients in one pot like sinigang and cooking them together but here at Ang Sarap we want to make things even tastier, so I tweaked the original recipe a bit to give it more oomph! I did that by shallow frying my fish in oil, giving it a crispy outer layer, I used pompano as it’s an firm and oily type of fish which is good with the sour broth, I also did sautéed garlic, onions and ginger to make it even more aromatic, the 100 times better than the original, it is not as fishy due to the frying process and the oils together with the sourness just blends well together, perfect with that freshly cooked jasmine rice.
- 1 large pompano, cleaned, gutted and scored
- 2 pcs large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1½ cups water
- 4 tbsp tamarind powder, 8 pieces bilimbi (kamias) or ½ cup lemon/calamansi juice
- 3 pcs shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 thumb-size ginger, minced
- 4 pcs green chillies
- freshly ground black pepper
- fish sauce
- 3 stalks spring onions, chopped
- Generously season pompano with salt and freshly ground black pepper, inside and out.
- Prepare a wok, add oil for shallow frying, and once it’s hot enough fry fish until crispy on the edges on both sides. Remove fish from wok, set it aside.
- Remove all but 3 tbsp of oil from the wok then sauté garlic, shallots and ginger.
- Add tomatoes and is using bilimbi add it now, cook until tomatoes are soft. Lightly mash the bilimbi.
- Pour water then bring it to a boil, simmer covered for 3 minutes if using bilimbi add 3 more minutes.
- Add the fish in and if you are using tamarind powder or lemon/calamansi juice add it now here.
- Continue to simmer for 5 minutes in low heat, turn over the fish to the other side then continue to simmer for 2 more minutes.
- Taste if it’s too sour for your liking add water, season with fish sauce and freshly ground black pepper if needed.
- Add the spring onions simmer for 2 more minutes then serve, turn heat off then serve.