Thursday, May 22, 2008

Milk Fish (Bangus, Bandeng and Hilsa)

The silvery and shiny coat of the 'milk fish' is mesmerizing. This milk fish is known as 'bangus' in the Philippines. My first encounter with national fish of Philippines was in Iloilo. We went to the wet market and bought a few ½ kg size fishes. This fish not only looks good, it tasted good as the meat was fine / powdery when chewed. The action of chewing brought out the best it has to offer. It is rich and it taste perhaps ‘milky’. The challenge is to avoid the numerous tiny bones. However, we found out too late that there was a de-boned version.
The second time I have this fish was in Semarang, Indonesia. I was staying with this family in the hill resort of Boyolali. They served me fried de-boned bandeng. The more I eat, the more I want. It’s addictive. As I have found out it Iloilo, chewing it as long as possible brought out the best from the meat. On the way from the Semarang airport I bought ‘smoked bandeng’ off the shelves. However, the taste and the smell were disappointing. So far I have not had the steam, and baked version.
In January this year while in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I had 'hilsa' in a restaurant. It is a national fish here too. The fish has plenty of fat (omega oil) and was fried. It kind of cooked in its own fat. Once again it was tasty except for the bones. On this occasion I was careless and a bone found its way near the start of my throat. It was very uncomfortable with that foreign object pierced into the soft tissue. I tried swallowing balls after balls of rice to dislodge it but to no avail. Still smarting from my misadventure and on my way back to the hotel, I decided to take matters in my hands (literally). I stick my thumb and index finger in to remove that thorn in my flesh. Merciful I was successful. My two fingers were coated with blood from this exercise. The bone was 1 ½ cm long.
The Bangladeshi prefers hilsa from the river rather than from the sea

No comments: