27 Apr2015


I learned something new at Madrid Fusion Manila last Saturday. Mrs. MM and I were only at the venue for 3.5 hours, and had just 20-30 minutes to go quickly around the exhibitors area to check out Filipino and Spanish ingredients and products, and in passing, I heard just tidbits of Claude Tayag’s presentation on adobo. I did make an effort to watch the first few minutes of Bruce Ricketts talk which was billeted at being about “LOCAL SEASONAL INGREDIENTS” but he quickly dismissed the topic as our not really having many seasons (more on that in another post) and talked about the way he got inspiration from local cooking techniques and how he applies it to creating his new, innovative and tasty dishes instead. He had a wonderful video detailing part of his creative process. He seems like a brilliant, young, intense man who is all-consumed by food. When he started his cooking demonstration, he explained he was cooking some tanguigue, but said he was fortunate enough to harvest some “fish sperm” from the fish and there was a distant video still (at least for the blind like me) of the ingredient on the demonstration counter. I had to return to our table, so I missed the rest of the talk unfortunately. But I did stop and think, hmmm, fish sperm vs. fish roe…


Back at home, a little research yielded the apparent answer, and the new tidbit of knowledge I gleaned from the minutes brush with Chef Ricketts’ talk. Bagaybay is the local term for fish sperm, or what’s known in English as “milt” — literally the seminal fluid (sperm and all) that is in the “gonad” equivalent of fish, usually taken from larger fish, like tuna, cod and apparently spanish mackerel as well. This is what raw cod milt looks like, here. While unfertilized eggs or fish roe, or bihud, looks like this, here. I have never eaten fish sperm as a separate ingredient, and I now want to try it to compare it with fish roe that has an intensely flavorful, briny taste.

Here’s another photo of the milt, that looks a bit like soft loose brains, also known as shirako in Japanese cuisine, which Mr. Ricketts is extremely adept at. Now, for a reservation to Mecha Uma, his acclaimed restaurant, after it’s had a chance to settle down for the past half year or so… :)



  1. EbbaBlue says:

    Oh, so that’s the name of what I saw, sometime ago, at a Vietnamese Seafood market .
    Didn’t buy, didn’t know how to cook it.

    Apr 27, 2015 | 2:27 pm


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  3. Rona Y says:

    If you have ever had rooster testes, they pretty much taste the same as shirako except shirako is softer. If you’ve never had rooster testes either, it’s sort of like eating a more dense fat. They leave a fatty film around your both after, too. My favourite preparation is grilled with a bit of butter, soy, and lemon, but generally I don’t particularly care for them otherwise (in my experience, both shirako and rooster testes are most commonly served as part of nabemono, which just seems to intensify that fatty feeling, but when they’re served grilled, they are much more pleasant).

    Apr 27, 2015 | 7:46 pm

  4. natie says:

    I thought it was botarga.. Great info, MM

    Apr 27, 2015 | 9:08 pm

  5. millet says:

    oh yes, davaoenos know that, because there is tuna bagaybay, and there is tuna bihod. first-time visitors to davao are often intrigued and excited at the soft, creamy texture and mild flavor of grilled bagaybay, but are horrified when told about what it is later. ;-) i think one of the davao chefs at madrid fusion also did a bagaybay/bihud dish.

    Rona Y, rooster testes! my first time to hear about that!

    Apr 28, 2015 | 7:42 am

  6. Kasseopeia says:

    An uncle calls it “tams” – yes, a contraction of the Tagalog (?) term for sperm. :)

    We have it as “pulutan” – briefly grilled, chopped then sauteed with onion/ginger/lots of chopped siling pang-sigang and labuyo.

    Apr 28, 2015 | 8:51 am

  7. cumin says:

    Apr 28, 2015 | 10:41 am

  8. netoy says:

    MM – I treated my friend (for being my host while on vacation) to an omakase dinner at mecha uma just this February with Chef Bruce was fresh off a cooking exhibition in Spain. Chef Bruce really took his time explaining the dishes he served. And it was such an experience seeing how your food is prepared right in front of you. Unfortunately, we came out not as impressed with the food. Probably I had so much of an expectation because of the hype about his cooking and about how talented he is. I hope you have a better experience.

    Apr 28, 2015 | 10:43 am

  9. Roddy Abaya says:

    I just came across this post and can’t help remembering going to a Davao sugbu place asking for bihod. I was told it was out of stock but they had bagaybay. I asked what this was and was told they were the eggs of the male tuna. To which I remarked “you mean bayagyag, don’t you?”

    Apr 28, 2015 | 11:12 am

  10. grace says:

    grilled bagaybay and bihod are the two things i miss the most. large tuna ones that just crispy outside and creamy inside are the best. you should try it sometime paired with a spicy soysauce/vinegar/kalamansi dipping sauce. yum!

    Apr 28, 2015 | 2:26 pm

  11. Footloose says:

    Although I won’t partake, given the opportunity, due to conditioned squeamishness, I nevertheless find this post informative, if not seminal.

    Apr 28, 2015 | 4:23 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    Footloose, hahaha as usual. But if you saw the recent press after the Madrid Fusion conference, fish sperm is the the new “foie gras” and at $3 a kilo, it’s but a fraction of the cost of caviar or foie. It’s touted as the next big thing (it’s already been a big deal in Japanese cooking for a while now). I have the crew in Cebu on the lookout for the darned fish gonads filled with oats in the 2-3 fresh whole tanguigues we purchase and clean every day or so for the restaurants… :)

    Apr 28, 2015 | 4:27 pm

  13. Footloose says:

    The implied allure, I image, at least for the aging male gourmands, is it might collaterally replenish one’s ebbing testosterone level.

    Apr 28, 2015 | 4:40 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    …or as one maiden in our office mused out loud “would I get pregnant if I ate some?”

    Apr 28, 2015 | 5:58 pm

  15. Footloose says:

    Can’t blame her. This is potent stuff, evolution’s persistent enforcers. Does not have to be taken internally, all that it needs is to be in the vicinity. Where does she think mermaids come from?

    Apr 28, 2015 | 7:17 pm

  16. marilen says:

    Funny hilarious exchange this -Footloose and MM !!

    Apr 28, 2015 | 7:19 pm

  17. Marketman says:

    I told her that in public and private swimming pools, the chlorine kills off the swimmers and she would be safer there; swimming in the ocean is another matter, as the salinity helps the sperm thrive for days on end… :)

    Apr 28, 2015 | 9:58 pm

  18. kristin says:

    hahaha..good exhange footloose and MM! my room companion in the hospital ward is giving me looks as im trying to suppress my laughter and burst into giggles instead! she’s now thinking ive gone crazy :)…

    Apr 30, 2015 | 4:08 pm

  19. kristin says:

    My siblings and I used to fight over who gets the fish roe when my mom include it in her fish tinola….Now, In this part of the world im staying, they have abundance of ‘torskerogn’ cod roe which they are fond of having at lunch/dinner as a topping of the rye bread (smeared like liver spread). My sister and I tried to make a twist ‘pinoy style’ we sliced it not to thinly and fried it with butter (with its side crisp and insides soft) to make it as ‘ulam’ paired with rice :) it was yum!

    Apr 30, 2015 | 4:18 pm

  20. Betchay says:

    MM and Footloose: you’re both funny! :)

    Apr 30, 2015 | 4:29 pm

  21. gerry says:

    We cook either, bihod, bagaybay or the other innards by sauteeing them together or on its own, with garlic, onion, tomatoes and ginger and adding ampalaya . Yummy.

    May 25, 2015 | 5:41 pm

  22. Sonny says:

    Hey Natie,

    Can you send me an email? would like to ask you a question about sea cucumber.


    Mar 17, 2016 | 2:22 pm


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