The nomenclature of locally available fishes is incredibly diverse and thus often confusingâ€¦ from province to province or coast to coast, the names of fish can vary and individuals in the North donâ€™t necessarily know what a fish is named in the Southâ€¦ So if itâ€™s confusing for locals, what more for foreigners or new arrivals? I find that many foreigners are often clueless as to the English/Filipino names of fish so unless they scour the wet markets for things that look familiar, they just give up and eat chicken. Who would have thought, that the prized Australian Barramundi with white flaky and delicious meat is a close relative of our much vaunted Apahap that was once the most sought after fish in Central Luzon (caught while spawning in rivers) and which is now raised in fish ponds in Mindanaoâ€¦throughout this blog I have tried to introduce different fishes with both their local and common English names so readers get to know them better. First up, an amusing looking fish called Bilong-bilong or Chabita or Kadis. A Moonfish (now isnâ€™t that a descriptive name?) of the Family Menidae, it inhabits coastal waters, has an incredibly flat body and oval shape with low fins. Locals love to serve this paksiw style with ginger, vinegar and onions, or deep fried where if small enough, everything is munched on, I am told.
Next, are baby Barracudas or Tursilyo, Bikuda, Asusud, Babayote, Titso, etc. Of the Family Spyraenidae, there are approximately 10 species of this fish in Philippine waters. With a large mouth and menacing teeth, these are feared when they get to a bigger size. Apparently, Barracudas like to watch people that are underwater, curious what they are up to. They travel in large schools and I imagine they can make mince meat or mince fish out of a hapless denizen of the seaâ€¦ Barracudas immediately conjure up a dark alley and they are the muggers while little Red Riding Hood would be the muggee. They are commonly seen at the edge of reefs, traveling in large schools and they have been known to attack humans in the Atlanticâ€¦ not sure if the Pacific Barracudas are as aggressive. They apparently taste great fried or paksiw. I donâ€™t think I have ever tasted barracuda but I should.
Finally, in todayâ€™s fish tutorial, are small Tulingan or baby Skipjack Tuna or Mackerel Tuna (fish too small to tell adult markings). With smooth skins (rather than scales of other reef fish) for better mobility and efficiency in water (what is the term of aerodynamic equivalent for water â€“ hydrodynamic?), these are long distance and power swimmers with a firm flesh that is tasty and substantial. There are several species of tuna in Philippine waters. These are the fish used in sinaing na tulingan or they are grilled or fried and eaten with different sawsawan or sauces. They have a darker, oilier meat that is a result of the fine muscle structure. Imagine eating the flesh of a thoroughbred race horse versus a pampered wagyu cow or kobe beef…