Baaoeno Tinuktok

Now, here’s the plot twist in our Bicolano culinary saga! You see, when it comes to Bicol, coconut milk and chilies are the rockstars of the kitchen. I mean, we practically have coconut milk running through our veins, right? From Laing to Bicol Express, Bicolanos just can’t get enough of that creamy goodness and fiery kick.

But guess what? Tinuktok breaks all the rules. It’s the rebel, the maverick, the dish that struts into the Bicolano food scene like it owns the place – sans coconut milk and minus the spicy dance of chilies! Can you believe it?

Now, mind you, I grew up surrounded by the tantalizing aroma of coconut-based dishes. Sinigang without gabi? Unheard of! But Tinuktok? It’s the black sheep of this culinary family – in the best way possible. A dish made with finely chopped fresh catch fish of the day, shrimp rolled into balls and simply boiled in water together with the other ingredients like ginger, onions, fish sauce, leafy vegetables, It is brightened by libas leaves for the sour flavour but if this is not readily accessible to you, calamansi or lemon juice is also an alternative.

Funny thing is, most of my seasoned Bicolano relatives, the experts in coconut and chili magic, never let me in on this secret. It was like Tinuktok was this hidden gem, waiting for the perfect moment to surprise my taste buds. And surprise, it did!

But wait, there’s more! There’s another version of Tinuktok in Bicol, and it’s like the distant more popular cousin of the Baaoeno Tinuktok. Picture this – minced fish, shrimp, crab meat and/or young coconut meat wrapped in gabi leaves, taking a luxurious coconut milk bath. Yep, that’s the other Tinuktok! It’s like the Yin to Baaoeno Tinuktok’s Yang.

Two Tinuktoks, two tales, one Bicol. Life is full of surprises, especially on a Bicolano dining table!

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Baaoeno Tinuktok

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Raymund
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Filipino


Discover Baaoeno Tinuktok, a unique Bicolano soup born during wartime, blending minced fish balls with libas leaves for an authentic flavour burst!



Units Scale


  • 700 g any white fleshy fish fillet (snapper, grouper, cod, monkfish)
  • 300 g shelled prawns
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped, white parts only
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced


  • 1 small young papaya, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch kangkong leaves, trimmed
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup calamansi or lemon juice (adjust to the sourness you prefer)
  • red chillies, chopped (optional)
  • fish sauce
  • ground white pepper


  1. In a food processor, combine all fishballs ingredient, gently pulse until the fish and prawns are minced but not paste-like in consistency.
  2. Make the fishballs by scooping a large spoonful of the mixture and forming them into balls. Set aside and repeat the process until all the mixture is used.
  3. In a pot, bring 4 cups of water to a gentle boil.
  4. Add chopped onions and young papaya to the boiling water, letting them simmer until the papaya is tender.
  5. Once the papaya is cooked, gently drop in the fishballs into the pot.
  6. Season the soup with fish sauce according to your taste preference.
  7. Add white pepper, pour in the calamansi or lemon juice.
  8. Toss in kangkong leaves and if you like it spicy, throw in some chopped red chilies.
  9. Simmer for a few more minutes until the fishballs are thoroughly cooked.


7 Responses

  1. Eha Carr says:

    Very simple comment – have read the recipe, have never prepared anything quite similar> cannot wait!

  2. Used to eat fish balls weekly…my mom would make a soup with winter melon. But we usually got them from the fish market. Can’t wait to try your fish ball recipe.

  3. Great post! Very interesting dish!

  4. I really enjoy fish balls — have had them in Morocco, Italy, and France. I love the flavors in these and the preparation is so simple. And did I mention healthy? The only thing I probably cannot get here is the kangkong, and it seems like a mustardy green would work well instead.

  5. Neil says:

    Love the great big chunks of white fish in this soup. I would probably use Cod seeing as it’s easy enough for me to get. Yum!

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