I grew up in a Visayan household and I think we must have had paksiw na isda twice a week. And I hated it. I am not sure why I had such a dislike for this dish, since I liked fish, and certainly vinegar, and LOVED but LOVED paksiw na lechon, but I am thinking now this was a psychological aversion. It stuck with me for many decades, and only in the past decade have I taken a liking to paksiw na sapsap or bilong-bilong (those flat silvery fish) with vinegar. Mrs. MM is more the paksiw na isda afficionada, and I picked it up from her. So while shopping at the markets yesterday and hoarding native dayap from my suki, I was intrigued when another shopper stated that dayap was brilliant in paksiw na isda. I asked the man for more details of how he cooked the fish and he obliged by saying I should use the juice (not the rind that can have a bitter taste) and just proceed as I would normally do for a fish paksiw, without any vinegar.
I bought some fresh looking bisugo (red mullet) and once cleaned, stuck that in a pot with about 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed dayap juice, some water, slices of ginger, a couple of bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, smashed garlic and let it simmer over medium heat until the fish was cooked. We added a couple of finger chillies or siling mahaba a little late in the process but you could do that right at the start. We also threw in a few slices of dayap for visual appeal, but I wouldn’t do that again as it was slightly bitter. The result? Delicious. Different from a vinegar based paksiw but paksiw nonetheless. Great with a heaping mountain of white rice. And yes, best for breakfast for some reason… I am sure The Kid is thinking exactly the same thing I was thinking at age 11 when faced with a pungent dish of paksiw for breakfast… :) You gotta love it or hate it.