Fried Bangus with spicy vinegar and/or a freshly made batch of acharra is serious comfort food around these parts. Bangus or Milkfish (Chanos chanos) are an extremely prolific breed of fish. Apparently one mature milkfish can produce as many as 3 million eggs at one time according to Genevieve Broad in her book Fishes of the Philippines. That is nearly as many eggs as the entire human population of Singapore! The adult fish are large and can measure up to 1.5 meters in length!!! Though most of the ones you see in the market are between 1-2 feet long. Seems the adults out at sea spawn these gajillions of offspring from April â€“ July that are then collected near the shores and brought to fishponds throughout the country where they are raised and eventually make it to market, often peaking in size about 8-12 months later, depending on the amount and quality of feed.
Bangus or tilapia should really be the national fish rather than lapu-lapu as it is consumed in vastly larger quantities by a broader range of the population. I simply love bangus. I have it fried, steamed or in sinigang nearly once a week. My daughter adores it in her school lunchbox and I order it at restaurants as well as prepare it at home. I like it slightly marinated/dried for breakfast, and I eat it for lunch and dinner as well. I frankly havenâ€™t experimented with it much as a fried bangus is just incredible comfort food for me. The steamed alternative has soy sauce and lots of green onions. I always wonder which poor soul has de-boned my bangus (I have seen it done from scratch and it is a royal pain in the rear) but if I can buy it at about PHP110 a piece without bones (Sarangani Bay) it is a bargain indeed! To date, the best bangus I have had at a restaurant is at LZM on the way to Tagaytay and at their extremely reasonable prices, they are a personal favorite. Bangus is now available in the U.S. (frozen) and in many other parts of the planet. Since it is such a local favorite, I am curious how Marketmanila readers prepare itâ€¦care to leave a comment? Do you use lard or vegetable oil? Do you coat it in flour or crushed cornflakes? Do you de-bone it yourself? Do you ever turn the fish over when frying or just leave the inside facing up? Eat the belly or loathe it? Please let me knowâ€¦