Paksiw na Bangus

Paksiw na Bangus is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to cook milkfish! Stewed in vinegar and spices, the fish turns out super moist and flavorful. Pair it with steamed rice for a healthy, delicious, and budget-friendly meal you’ll feel good serving the whole family.

That was until a friend of mine taught me a simple trick that turned the dish into my favorite: a teaspoon or two of oil is added to the dish at the end of cooking. The addition of fat adds flavor and mellows out the mouth-puckering acidity.

To scale or not to scale

When you buy fish at Asian supermarkets here in the U.S., they’ll usually clean and cut the fish according to how you plan to cook it. I asked the staff manning the fish section to prepare my bangus pang-paksiw and I was aghast to find it gutted and SCALED when I opened the paper wrapping at home.

Well, in fairness to the fishmonger, it seems cooking the bangus a la paksiw with scales or without is a matter of contention. I posted the video below on my Facebook page and there was a whole lot of discussion; half of the viewers said descale the fish and the other half said keep them on.

So, yes, keep the scales, don’t keep the scales. It’s up to you. The dish will be delicious regardless.

Cooking Tips

  • The quality of the fish affects the quality of the dish. The fresher the bangus, the better the taste. Try to choose a “mataba” bangus with a thick band of stomach fat for best flavor.
  • I like to add eggplant, but you can also use ampalaya or okra.
  • For an adobong paksiw version, add 1/4 cup soy sauce and decrease the amount of salt.

    How to serve and store

    • Enjoy paksiw na bangus as a main dish for lunch or dinner. It’s traditionally served with steamed rice and fish sauce (with chopped chilies if you want a bit of heat) for dipping.
    • The stewed fish keeps well for days due to the use of vinegar. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
    • Reheat leftovers in a saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave at 2 to 3-minute intervals to an internal temperature of 165 F.

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