24 Nov2009


They say that if you do something for 10,000 or more hours, you can truly become an expert in that endeavor. I suspect de-boning a bangus can be perfected in about 1-2,000 hours, but I have no desire to prove that suspicion. In the past 45 years, I have probably consumed several hundred boneless bangus but I have NEVER de-boned a bangus, and haven’t the foggiest idea how to do it competently. When I was younger, we sometimes ate fried bangus with the bones, and it was like bobbing for fish meat between hundreds of bones, not a pleasant memory at all. The last time I was in Bacolod, I spied this guy at the market making short shrift of deboning bangus, and I was mesmerized…


He could totally debone a medium sized bangus in less than 90 seconds! The main fish bone (spine?) was quickly despatched, and with a scissor/tweezer like implement, he quickly went down the sides of the butterflied fish and pulled out the little bones in rapid fire surgical movements. He would even be chatting with the fish vendor next door while working on a fish. I was so shocked to see how fast he was doing this that I stood there for several minutes while he de-boned a half dozen fish… it was amazing. I wish there were a Guiness Book of World Record for fishmongers who could debone fish in a few seconds… :)


There are some things I know that I will never do well. Or have no real burning desire to learn how to do well. So I am just happy that others are so good at it. With the de-boned bangus the next question is how best to enjoy it? And for me, that is daing na bangus, fried, served with lots of vinegar and chilies, a mini-mountain of rice and lots of homemade acharra. And yes, preferably cooked in a fish pan. :)



  1. consol says:

    Boneless bangus is a staple in our household. Simple and satisfying, with garlic rice or plain rice, with spicy suka and sliced kamatis …. comfort food. *sigh*

    Nov 24, 2009 | 6:48 am


  2. Notice: Undefined variable: oddcomment in /home/marketman/marketmanila.com/wp-content/themes/marketmanila-v2/comments.php on line 33
  3. Jojo Vicencio says:

    My mom got into the boneless bangus gig in the late 60’s or early 70’s. As you were, I was enthralled by the speed and accuracy of what she was doing. I know I might have tried it 3 or 4 times but each time I ended with more fish meat on me than a deboned bangus. The dormant skill served me well while I was overseas and bangus was sold at our commissary. Took a while, certainly not burning rubber, but seeing my guests consume the bangus and wondering where the bones were was thrilling enough.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 6:49 am

  4. wahini says:

    thanks for this post MM. now i know what i’m having for breakfast!!!

    Nov 24, 2009 | 6:54 am

  5. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    It’s raining in Cebu this morning, and I just pulled out from the freezer a smoked boneless bangus to prepare for breakfast!…hehehehe

    Nov 24, 2009 | 6:58 am

  6. Isagarch says:

    Suspension or suspicion?

    I am thrilled that I can get saranggani bangus in my wee little town in BC. Pan fried with lemon to squeeze over it and lots of plain rice. Does anyone else have scrambled egg on the side?

    Nov 24, 2009 | 6:58 am

  7. Connie C says:

    I wonder what they do with the mountain of fish spines/bones after deboning all that bangus. Into a composting bin with other organic market scraps? or to the nearby carinderia for fish sinigang or paksiw broth?

    Nov 24, 2009 | 7:24 am

  8. millet says:

    it’s really easy,MM, and i have always taught my household staff to do this,and they catch on so fast so that all bangus served at home is boneless, even those for sinigang. only those we make into sardines get to keep their bones in.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 7:35 am

  9. marcial bonifacio says:

    did i smell relyenong bangus? or inihaw? my nose playing tricks on me…hehe=D

    Nov 24, 2009 | 7:52 am

  10. botchok says:

    I was looking at the mound of fish spine. Back in Pinas, i have a friend who is a fish vendor in our town market and he used to deep fry those bones until very crunchy like a chicharon. We used to have it as a pulutan, dipped in vinegar with lots of garlic. Yummm! Sawa na kasi kami sa bangus mismo, I used to live near fishpens.
    I also noticed the “suspension”, is it just a typo MM? Hehe, just wondering.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 8:34 am

  11. sha says:

    Lately frozen bangus makes me sick…. :-(

    Nov 24, 2009 | 9:44 am

  12. el_jefe says:

    Yes Marcial mukang masarap nga ang rellenong bangus o kaya nama’y totsong bangus…sarap!

    Nov 24, 2009 | 10:04 am

  13. HD says:

    We did that in home economics class in high school. The ease of deboning the fish, depends on how fresh it is. If the fish has been frozen and thawed before it is deboned, chunks of flesh will go with the bones when it is pulled out.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 10:28 am

  14. cherryo, yvr says:

    Your post brings back memories of my Uncle’s bangus farm. My Mom lived in the province for a few years and one summer, my Uncle had invited us to witness a bangus harvest. It was quite the experience and I shall never forget it! Needless to say, it was an equally fantastic feast of grilled, fried and sinigang right after that. Yum. I’m glad my kids love bangus too kahit laki sila rito.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 11:55 am

  15. kurzhaar says:

    At a truly excellent sushi bar I had requested omakase (chef’s choice) and among many gorgeous nibbles was served a pompano in three ways including the skeleton…deep-fried til crunchy. Interesting and actually rather tasty.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 12:11 pm

  16. pinkytab says:

    We just had fried marinated boneless bangus for dinner a few hours ago and of course it was gone in a flash. I remember serving sinigang na bangus in the Philippines about 40 years ago to an American who had been to a lot of countries and was an avid fisherman. He said it was the most delicious fish he ever tasted.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 1:56 pm

  17. Joyce says:

    the frozen sarangani bay marinated bangus packs makes enjoying daing na bangus easy. just defrost and fry then pair with garlic sinangag. had my indian officemate try this one time and she also loved it.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 3:28 pm

  18. deebee says:

    a few months ago, i visited a fish processing plant north of Manila, an exporter of boneless bangus among others, and was amazed by the speed with which bangus was being deboned — about 7 or so per minute (of medium-sized ones)! MM, your fishseller is good, but those working in our export plants (with strict individual quotas daily) are worthy world record holders, if such a title does exist!

    Nov 24, 2009 | 7:18 pm

  19. aleli says:

    MM you should also observe these fishmongers as they prepare bangus for relleno. Amazing skills. And at no extra costs to us consumers.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 8:35 pm

  20. Teresa says:

    I should try my hand at this. MM please come up with an illustration showing the location where the bones can be pulled out.

    Nov 24, 2009 | 8:51 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    Teresa, not likely, I didn’t map it out. aleli, I agree, the skill level is amazing. deebee, I can only imagine how much faster they get…and certainly better than a machine. HD, that makes sense, if I ever try this myself the fish will have to be ultra fresh. botchok and isagarch, thanks for pointing out the typo, it was a typo and there were a few others. I was speed posting a couple of days ago before taking a trip, so posts were hastily written. :(

    Nov 24, 2009 | 9:49 pm

  22. cathyeresera says:

    Hi MM, I usually visit your site, but this is the first time I put a comment. I’m really amazed with the topics you post here… Deboning bangus brings back memories in home economics class. Boneless Bangus with lots of tomatoes onions, garlic,ginger, a little bit of salt then wrapped in banana leaves and grill…would be nice for lunch.. :)

    Nov 25, 2009 | 6:32 am

  23. betty q. says:

    One of my best friends, Nadine, once attended a trade /food show. There was an enterprising man who formulated and developed some sort of “kropek” using salmon fish bones. I must say that it is really good!

    Think what they could also do with that kabundok fish bones…maybe a similar type of salmon bone kropek!

    Nov 25, 2009 | 7:26 am

  24. farida says:

    out of topic: bettyq and MM, I am trying to make the warm chocolate tart for Thursday’s dinner, but my tart shell kept shrinking when baked that I do not have a deep area to hold all the chocolate filling. What did I do wrong? And what should I do? This is my third try and it still shrunk.

    Nov 25, 2009 | 9:54 am

  25. Chowhound says:

    That is pretty amazing! I admire their patience, that would drive me mad with frustration trying to get all those teeny tiny bones out of the flesh. I love rellenong bangus, daing na bangus and sinigang na bangus sa miso. Sinigang sa miso would be great for the nasty rainy and super gray days we seem to have here everyday.

    Nov 25, 2009 | 2:13 pm

  26. Topster says:

    Hi MM. De-boning is one of those tasks that I am thankful other people are highly skilled at. I do have great respect and admiration for them. Without any extra cost these men and women will gladly de-bone your bangus order. Making our consumption of the fish more convenient!

    Btw, gotta love the last sentence! =)

    Nov 25, 2009 | 2:16 pm

  27. betty q. says:

    Farida: blind bake…meaning refrigerate the dough in the TART PAN… thenparchment paper if you have it…if not foil will do, trim the parchment paper…then pie weights…I use rice which is solely used as pie weights (can re-use over and over again, can also use dried beans)…bake till the edges are lightly browned, then remove from oven…carefully remove the pie weights and then the parchment paper. …return to oven and continue baking till done. Others prick the botoom of the pan…don’t have to if blind baking.

    Hope that helps!

    Nov 25, 2009 | 2:37 pm

  28. betty q. says:

    Forgot, pie weights such as rice…fill up right up to the rim of the pan

    Nov 25, 2009 | 2:39 pm

  29. farida says:

    Bettq, thanks. I did not fill it with weights to the rim of the pan. Maybe that is the answer. Will do it that way for the next time. Thank you so much.

    Nov 25, 2009 | 11:35 pm

  30. bagito says:

    Hooray for boneless bangus! I will include in tomorrow’s list of things I’m thankful for. ;-)

    Nov 26, 2009 | 11:59 am

  31. juli says:

    I miss pritong bangus. Anyone know where to buy bangus in Minneapolis? Would be heaven to have fried garlic rice and pritong bangus to warm up cold winter nights.

    Nov 26, 2009 | 12:01 pm

  32. Ellen says:

    I love bangus!!! I can eat sinigang na bangus preferably with thick belly fat any time =)

    Nov 26, 2009 | 3:40 pm

  33. Edwin says:

    To me nothing can compare with the unique taste of Dagupan bangus, but when it’s not available, bangus from Saranggani or other Visayan provinces would be fine as long as it doesn’t have that offensive taste (sorry, I forgot the local term for that-

    By the way, I love ‘daing na bangus,’ but I hate it when I can taste an over-garlicky flavor (and more so if I taste “fresh” garlic), or if it is over-soured by vinegar (Ouch! My sensitive teeth.)

    As for Sinigang na Bangus, I’ve recently discovered that the Malaysian consultants in our office in Makati also love it and always order it from our office canteen. Incidentally, one of them commented that although they find the bangus ‘difficult’ to eat. . . .nevertheless the soup really ‘tastes so good.’

    I’ve read somewhere that spines/bones taken from bangus de-boning industries are dried and powdered and added to polvoron as an extender, thus enriching the polvoron’s calcium content.

    Nov 26, 2009 | 8:25 pm

  34. nuebo_ubing says:

    I love bangus- so so good. This article reminds of the time I actually avoided eating bangus altogether because I was such a bratty kid who didn’t want to take the time to take the bones out. I remember we always had a banana or two on the dinner table, not for after the meal, but just in case one of us swallowed a bangus bone by accident. The boneless bangus was a Godsend. I can’t believe I still see whole unboned bangus at the market here in the states. By the way, I just had paksiw ng bangus yesterday for lunch and of course it was boneless.!
    amazing site by the way

    Nov 27, 2009 | 12:57 am

  35. tulip says:

    Our househelper/cook used to work for a factory that exports bangus many years ago. She keeps a surgical scissor in our kitchen and uses it for deboning. It amazes us too on how fast she can debone a bangus, even the larger ones. She told me, she was paid P5/deboned fish, 10 yrs ago. Last 2 Christmas seasons, she made large marinated daing na bangus for us to give to our neighbors.

    Nov 30, 2009 | 9:13 am

  36. cesca says:

    Just like nuebo_ubing, I didn’t enjoy eating fried bangus as a kid because they didn’t debone them back then. Although I love its taste, eating bangus with bones was a love-hate relationship at best. I am so grateful that we can now buy fresh bangus in the wet market and have them deboned right before your eyes at no extra cost. They’re a staple at my house.

    Dec 1, 2009 | 4:46 pm

  37. Remil says:

    Whenever we travel to Manila, a whole balikbayan box is devoted to nothing but Rib Eye steaks to be shared with friends and family there. On our return trip back to Los Angeles, a whole balikbayan box is then devoted to boneless fresh and smoked bangus. An even trade off don’t you think?

    Dec 4, 2009 | 7:50 am

  38. Cacho says:

    this is a cool one! i’ve always wondered how they do this. you should have taken a video of this fellow, at 90 seconds that would still be a pretty light post in your blog :)

    Dec 5, 2009 | 3:37 pm

  39. ronalyn casinillo says:

    it was fun to know how to debone a milkfish. it was my first time to do it.this topic really helped me to improved my self into a better person. indeed, Patience is a virtue!

    Mar 12, 2010 | 12:54 pm

  40. R. Ferrer says:

    The first step in learning deboning a bangus is to know where the bones or the pricky parts are located. The second step is making a graphic presentation of a butterflied bangus identifying the whereabouts of these unwanted bones. We need an artist for this job. The third step is to have the right tools to pluck out the much-sought-for bones. What are the other things we must do, readers?

    Nov 18, 2010 | 9:19 pm

  41. food & health blog says:

    Great post. I really miss boneless bangus in Manila. I usually like bangus from Pangasinan.
    But here in Saudi Arabia, bangus is not tasty.

    Oct 10, 2011 | 5:57 pm


Market Manila Home · Topics · Archives · About · Contact · Links · RSS Feed

site design by pixelpush

Market Manila © 2004 - 2020