02 Sep2013


You aren’t going to find many posts/photos of this rare delicacy on the internet dated prior to this one. I searched aggressively to see if I could dig up more information, and only my old post on fried saguyon kept popping up on search engines. Imagine my surprise and delight when our office Manager announced that her relatives in Agusan had not only managed to secure another month or two’s supply of dried saguyon (a seasonal and difficult to obtain delicacy) for our restaurants, but they were also sending a kilo or so of fresh saguyon airfreight in a cooler packed with ice!!! Yahoo! Needless to say, I took these photos as soon as they arrived and we cooked them immediately for our office lunch.


The fish fry at truly tiny, say 5mm or so in length, and those “larger” fish left in for scale, are aroughly an inch and a half in length! These fish fry, with clearly visible eyes, are similar to ipon, dulong, and dilis fry found all across the archipelago, but these ones thrive in lake Mainit, Agusan del Norte and are protected by the DENR. They can only be caught at certain times of the year, and in limited quantities, to ensure their population in the wild remains sustainable. This is the first time I have ever seen them fresh, and I was excited to experiment. Natives from Agusan suggested they just be simply sauteed with garlic, onions, tomatoes and salt and pepper. Though they also menitoned you could cook these in omelets, etc.


Into a saute pan I added some olive oil, sauteed some chopped garlic and onions, then tomatoes and then the fish and stirred this gently to ensure that the fish cooked evenly. I added some good fish sauce, salt and pepper and yet the liquids at the bottom of the pan evaporate. The whole process didn’t take more than a few minutes to do.


The sauteed fish fry were utterly delicious. They had a rather mild flavor born of their freshwater provenance, I am guessing, and they had a wonderful texture as well. They reminded me of dulong and to some extent, even angullas or tiny eels from Spain. It’s hard to describe why they are so appealing, but they are. Two platters were pretty much wiped out by the crew, and that’s a mean feat given we had 4-5 other dishes served that lunch for someone celebrating their birthday.


Because the first taste of the sauteed saguyon conjured up images of angullas or other Spanish type preparations, I decided to cook a second batch with a more European slant. It doesn’t show in the photos, but these were significantly different treatments and resulting dishes. For the second batch, I added nearly a cup full of finely cubed homeamde bacon to a hot pan. Once it started to sizzle, I added copious amounts of olive oil and when the bacon had browned slightly, added in lots of garlic, onions and less tomatoes than in the first dish we prepared. Some salt, freshly cracked black pepper, homemade chili flakes were added next. Just before taking them off the flames, I squeezed the juice of two lemons into the dish. It’s a bit odd that the photo above doesn’t seem to show any bacon, but it was chockfull of it (albeit pale and not reddish pink since it was homemade)… it had the fish, a burst of salty bacon, a bit of spice and some acid from the lemon. We had this with rice, but it would have been equally good on some bread or toast points. Yum. :)



  1. Tonette says:

    For a moment I thought it was tabios from Bicol.
    I got so excited. It’s 6:28 am in my part of the world.
    And okoy na tabios or ginisang tabios would have
    made a delicious breakfast! Hmmm… Missing home : (

    Sep 2, 2013 | 5:29 am


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  3. Tonette says:

    By the way, MM, I made ice candy and homemade
    ice cream using Marketman’s mango jam and kalamansi
    marmalade respectively. Sobrang sarap po! The mango
    jam was really packed with fruit and had the right
    combo of sweetness and a hint of sourness. The kalamansi
    marmalade lent a hint of bitterness to the sweet snd creamy
    goodness of the ice cream. Masarap talaga! Maraming

    Sep 2, 2013 | 5:46 am

  4. al says:

    Reminds me of “ipon” , seasonal fish from abra. best cooked “nilingta” or boiled until somewhat dry, used to be peddled in “bilaos” along the streets of Bangued, Abra.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 8:01 am

  5. Travel Guide says:

    Hi Marketman, thank you for the great idea. We didn’t this can be sauteed, now we have a new way to cook this delicious Saguyon or Dulong as we call it.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 10:38 am

  6. resagirl says:

    Hi MM. In Cabucgayan, Biliran we call this tarotaro and usually prepared as guinamos or paksiw wrap in banana or cacao leaves (cone style). Pero saltwater fish since wala kami lake.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 11:32 am

  7. Walter Robles says:

    I grew up in a household which always emphasized good, wholesome food. I remember one of my dad’s favourite is ginisang alamang. Your recipe reminds me of that!

    Sep 2, 2013 | 2:28 pm

  8. PITS, MANILA says:

    not so sure if we’ve had this before. memory holds such image but it could very well be that of alamang guisado, served with thinly sliced fresh kamias.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 3:39 pm

  9. millet says:

    i love the dried saguyon but have never had them fresh. these are definitely smaller than ipon or dulong (called “nylon” here in davao!). those long-billed fish on top look like baby flying fish.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 9:25 pm

  10. Kanela says:

    Reminds me of ginamus from Cagayan de Oro. It’s cooked as described above (the Pinoy way) and we eat it with boiled saba. We also squeeze a local citrus (similar to dayap) over it.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 10:21 pm

  11. Kasseopeia says:

    Reminds me of both Bangued’s ipon and CDO’s guinamos. Monday pa lang ah, bakit throwback na agad? Ahehehe. Nagutom ako.

    Sep 2, 2013 | 11:12 pm

  12. s says:

    Reminds me of CdO too. I think we call the same fish “maranay” . Yummy cooked this way or with eggs :)

    Sep 3, 2013 | 12:07 am

  13. Boopsie says:

    it looks like the fresh fish used in bagoong alamang

    Sep 3, 2013 | 1:35 am

  14. Anna Banana says:

    Funny! Just a few days ago I ordered the salad for the day in a restaurant in Madrid and it came topped with a generous serving of angullas! Yum! I love angullas because they have this really mild flavor but that was the first time I had vegetable salad topped with angullas instead of the usual ham/chicken/deli meat! Maybe it will also work with Saguyon? :-)

    Sep 3, 2013 | 6:48 am

  15. PITS, MANILA says:

    i want to try the 2nd version (european) with crusty bread with a dab of butter or mayo, even mustard …

    Sep 3, 2013 | 7:13 am

  16. betty q. says:

    how about canning it, too, MM? …but without the copious amounts of olive oil so it will be more of a pate in texture after processing. Something to open and snack on crackers in the winter months while watching Korean soap operas with subtitles!

    Sep 3, 2013 | 11:27 am

  17. MiMac says:

    Hi, MM! We were in Cebu the other week and my family enjoyed the saguyon from your resto. :) We were pleasantly surprised with how truly tiny they were!

    Sep 3, 2013 | 3:16 pm

  18. MP says:

    I don’t think I’ve had that before. it looks absolutely yummy! I’ll try cooking dulong that way.

    Hi bettyq, i am so happy to “see” you again. It has been awhile…

    Sep 3, 2013 | 8:43 pm

  19. roy says:

    we call this “ipon” in ilokano. we prefer it as a kinilaw, or with soup, or steamed (“nilingta”).

    i blogged about this a long while ago, at http://pinakbetrepublic.blogspot.com/2012/03/ipon-fish-friessilver-fish.html and at http://dadapilan.com/makan/?p=96

    Sep 4, 2013 | 12:36 am

  20. EAS says:

    I miss that fish! One of my favorites… my aunt who passed away wraps it in banana leaves with tomato and kamias and onions… then use a big clay pot to simmer or steam… I am not really sure of what she did. :-( but it’s so good…

    Sep 4, 2013 | 1:06 am

  21. Marketman says:

    Roy et al, yes, similar to all other small fish fry mentioned, including ipon, but technically, or scientifically, probably slightly different, given the areas in which they thrive (freshwater lake vs. brackish water/rivers vs. saltwater for other fry). It’s hard to pinpoint precise species for all of these, and while all rather similar — they differ slightly in size, provenance, and maybe even flavor. I think they are all related but still a bit different from each other. The ipon in the photos in your post appear significantly larger than the saguyon in the photos above, for example, but may be a result of catching them a few days older… Thanks for including links to your previous posts, now I want to try the ipon from the North to compare with the saguyon from Mindanao… :)

    From this interesting paper on the 40+ species of fish in Lake Mainit, I quote:

    “The gobies Glossogobius giuris (locally called pijanga) and Hypseleotris agilis (bugwan) are the most popular species, reported to be the most abundantly caught fish in the 1980-81 assessment of Pauly et al. (1990) and the 1995-96 study of Galicia and Lopez (2000). These gobies are considered by fishers in Lake Mainit as native or indigineous, although Pauly et al. (1990) reported that they may be marine species entering freshwater ecosystem of the lake.” — what others refer to as saguyon.

    While this Philippine Government Fisheries Paper specifically about fish from the Ilocos/Abra region suggests they are either the same species, or very closely related:

    Family/English Name/Local Name/Scientific Name

    Eleotridae/Sleeping Goby/Palawan, Bangayngay/opiocara aporos
    Eleotridae/Bia/Buguan/hypseleotris agilis
    Gobbidae/White Goby/Ipon/glossogobius giurus
    Gobbidae/Dwarf Goby/dulong/merogobius lacustris

    :) Enough scientific names for everyone?

    Sep 4, 2013 | 6:13 am

  22. Marketman says:

    Hi bettyq, yes, bottling or canning it might be nice. There is dulong locally that is bottled in olive oil and it tastes good. I suspect these tiny fish would do well as well. The pressure cooking part of the process may indeed turn them into a “pate” or spread of sorts…

    Sep 4, 2013 | 6:49 am

  23. datingpulubi says:

    out of topic. i bought claypot the one you refer in Quiapo after tempering it. i cook adobong chicken and ala it crack gone my 150 pesos huhu.

    Sep 5, 2013 | 8:52 am

  24. Marketman says:

    datingpulubi, yikes! I have used ours nearly a dozen times now, no problems with cracking! So sorry you had a bad one, although they are notorious for being weakly made… Did the adobo taste good at least? :)

    Sep 5, 2013 | 9:40 am

  25. louinsanfran says:

    caught that short segment about zubuchon on matanglawin over the weekend. the place is hip!

    Sep 5, 2013 | 12:07 pm

  26. Marketman says:

    louinsanfran, :) I didn’t catch the segment as we were away… It’s clean and bright, not too sure about “hip”… :)

    Sep 5, 2013 | 2:20 pm

  27. betty q. says:

    MM…am in the middle of making more dill pickles with garlic nd hot chili peppers before the cold weather ruins those tiny dill cukes in Langley where I go dill cuke picking…you have got to check out Martha Stewart site on quick or fast way to peel a whole bulb of garlic without getting garlic smell on your hands. It is the coolest way I have ever found on peeling a whole bulb of garlic…. root and all!….works on both hard necks nd soft neck garlic!

    Sep 6, 2013 | 2:13 am

  28. Jenalyn says:

    I suddenly miss ipon as we call it in Vigan/Ilocos. I remember when it’s in season we used to have it at breakfast till supper! And the fridge is also full of ipon! Mom used to buy the thinner and lighter one instead of the darker one coz it’s sweeter. Bagoong na ipon with calamansi is also a good dip.

    Sep 17, 2013 | 5:12 am

  29. Sony De Guzman says:

    Hi Marketman and friends. I have just come across your blog re ‘saguyon” or goby fry from Lake Mainit while I was browsing through articles on LM fisheries, and although this comment is more than 2 years late, I still believe it is important for everyone to read it. I understand you guys are culinary enthusiasts, and like many Filipinos, just love those tiny fish fry for the various delectable recipes you share, but I feel it my “environmental duty” to let you know some important things about the practice of gathering, cooking and eating these tiny goby fry. Why do I care? I led a team of researchers who studied LM fisheries (2007-2008), and you can search for our report in postings by the Lake Mainit Development Alliance (LMDA). Our main motivation for this research was to highlight on the state of LM fisheries to guide policy for their sustainable management. The ‘saguyon’ are fry of indigenous freshwater gobies (possibly a mix of several species, notably Glossogobius giuris or “pijanga”. Far more important than food for our tables, these fry are the “future generations” of these native freshwater fish. Our research (when compared to an earlier one) indicated that LM gobies are positively overfished: their sizes getting smaller and their catches dwindling. Goby fry fisheries in LM has been identified as a major cause of this decline. These FW fish need to be conserved and managed through regulating fisheries, including the protection of the tiny fry. Which is why LGU members of the LMDA have banned “baling” and fine-meshed nets from the lake. Promoting “saguyon” recipes the way you did encourages this UNSUSTAINABLE fishery practice. Let us all (as Filipinos) help in promoting sustainable fisheries and biodiversity conservation. Sharing important environmental information about ‘saguyon, dulong, ipon’ and other fish fry and how to protect them is a start. Knowledge about our environment is just a ‘click away’. Thank you!

    Jun 14, 2015 | 6:56 am

  30. Marketman says:

    Sony, thank you for that insightful comment. I was made to understand that there were seasonal and therefor “limits” on harvesting saguyon in place, in fact, we are only given access to supply roughly 6-8 weeks a year. If the fish is in fact an endangered species (we did not see that information available readily for consumers to check) we would be more than happy to remove it from our restaurant menus when we have it (which is roughly 3 months out of the year). On a broader note, one should also focus on sustainable population growth as well, as it is the massive explosion in population that leads to overfishing, is it not?

    Jun 14, 2015 | 8:59 am

  31. Sony De Guzman says:

    Hi Marketman, thank you for your response. The tank goby (G. giuris) and related species in Lake Mainit are actually not listed as endangered species (at least not in IUCN’s Redlist), but this does not mean we should not be concerned. Research and anecdotal reports point to these freshwater fish as a diminishing resource. These fish are caught in progressively decreasing sizes, basically as a function of gear mesh size. For example, our research in LM (2007-08) showed that “pijanga” (G. giuris) and its close cousin “bugwan” (Hypseleotri agilis) were caught by various gears at sizes as small as 5 cm. The good news is these fish are resilient due to their biological characteristics: high fecundity (number of eggs in gonad), fast growing and reproduces continually (with about 2 peaks in a year). In other words, if its fishery is properly managed, then its stocks can be sustainable. The burning issue with saguyon gathering (as with all fry gathering) is really ‘regulation’ – once spawning produces the annual (or biannual) spike in fry availability, it’s “FISHING FRENZY” for everyone. I concede that fry recipes are delectable and that people in LM and other areas have to eat (and earn, too), but if a certain level of ‘controlled’ fry gathering is ensured, then the rest of these tiny seedstock can grow, reproduce and contribute to next year’s abundant supply of fish. And I fully agree with you – (human) population needs to be managed within sustainable levels, as increasing coastal population produces more fishers, fishing on our declining supply of fish. As for me (and my house) I have learned to control my appetite for these tiny fish fry (anchovy, sardine, goby), and wait till they’re fully grown before I buy.

    Jun 25, 2015 | 3:28 am


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