12 Oct2010


Why don’t we steam you up? Heehee. I never noticed that fish can sometimes have blue eyes. Isn’t that cool? I found this 1/2 kilo or so reef-fresh lapu-lapu at the Nasugbu market last weekend and purchased it for roughly PHP180 or $3.50.


Crystal clear eyes are a tell-tale sign of a fresh fish. I have written about fish eyes before, here, so refer to that post for some tips on buying fish…


Beside the blue-eyed lapu-lapu or grouper was a maya-maya or red snapper. Not quite the red snapper so prized in Western restaurant menus, but a close cousin, I think. Cooler, and more temperate waters seem to have a noticeable effect on the texture of the meat of red snappers when compared with their tropical cousins. I purchased both fish because I wanted to experience tasting their meat side by side to see if one really tasted better than the other.


I simply steamed both fish for roughly 13-15 minutes on a HIGH flame with julienned ginger and sliced onions and added a sauce of light soy sauce, stock, pinch or two of sugar and some really hot oil. Both fish were good. But the meat of the maya-maya was a little bit mushier or less firm than that of the lapu-lapu.


Personally, I thought the lapu-lapu was excellent, so the price premium over maya-maya (around PHP50-80 per kilo more for the grouper) is well justified. Yum.


Another photo for Nadia… :)



  1. fried-neurons says:

    Hi MM,

    Do you know if lapu-lapu is typically available in American supermarkets? If so, should I just go to the fish counter and ask for grouper?

    Oct 12, 2010 | 6:07 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    fried-neurons, to be honest, I have never purchased grouper at an American fishmonger. But I suspect it IS available, and yes, as grouper. Alternatively, red snapper, weakfish or sea bass might work nicely instead.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 6:51 am

  4. tonceq says:

    i remember that we were actually TRAINED to go for the steamed lapu-lapu when we were in a chinese restaurant buffet! the light and thin sauce (light soy sauce) combined with the meat of the grouper makes for a very tasty and not so filling meal that has you coming back for more! waaaaaaaaaaa!!! i’m hungry!

    Oct 12, 2010 | 7:02 am

  5. junb says:

    A nice looking lapu-lapu up there, I wonder if those are hybrid from a western lapu-lapu :). Steamed fish is first on my list for this fresh fish although I don’t mind it on Pesa with ginisang miso as a dipping sauce.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 7:57 am

  6. Jen Laceda says:

    Haha, I was just thinking the other day what lapu-lapu was in English. Thanks for the info!

    Oct 12, 2010 | 7:59 am

  7. Marketman says:

    Jen, not sure if Canada uses American nomenclature, but if not, another choice is rock cod which is the name Australians use to describe groupers or lapu-lapu.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 8:07 am

  8. Ley says:

    Just read a friend’s post on facebook about molmol being known as parrot fish in the US. She’s a Cebuana married to an American. Her favorite fish is molmol and for years she’s been craving for it in the US. Just days ago, she discovered its name and commented how sosyal the name in the US is compared to molmol! :)

    Oct 12, 2010 | 9:07 am

  9. Vettievette says:

    I’ve seen it more commonly listed as rock cod in the States – Cali and NYC. I’ve ordered it a few times at Chinese restaurants – steamed w/ toyo, ginger, and scallions. It is quite exceptional. :)

    Oct 12, 2010 | 9:44 am

  10. Ken Lovell says:

    Inconsistent fish names even within the same country are a constant cause of confusion; trying to work out the corresponding name in another country is a nightmare. As Marketman says, Australians call lapu-lapu red rock cod, but we also have grouper here which are a different fish altogether, coming in blue and brown varieties.

    I don’t think Filipino red snapper is as closely related to Australian snapper as it is to the fish we call red emperor. And my mention of Australian swordfish caused a lot of confusion with my Filipino partner until we worked out that it’s nothing at all like espada.

    Anyway the important thing is that it all tastes good :).

    Oct 12, 2010 | 11:00 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Ken, perhaps you might be surprised to know that our APAHAP is actually a close relative of the vaunted Australian barramundi… :) I have one reference book of Australian fishes and names, then one of western fishes in general and two of fishes in Filipino waters… and I can tell you they are mightly confusing sometimes…

    Oct 12, 2010 | 11:51 am

  12. Nadia says:

    Hi MM. Interesting that you said that the blue-eyed lapu-lapu is fresh. My husband and I examined the picture and agreed that the eye looked more cloudy than blue. We’re both practicing marine biologists and we visit the local market weekly to buy the freshest fish to study (and eat afterwards!). We don’t mean to rain on your parade, but honestly, we thought that the lapu-lapu could be more fresh.

    We also read your previous post, and thought that we can add another tip for buying the freshest fish: the eyes shouldn’t be sunken (like the red lapu-lapu in the 4th picture of your previous post). We don’t mean that the eyes should ‘pop-out’, since this may also indicate that the fish was pulled from deeper water quite quickly and didn’t have the chance to decompress.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 12:21 pm

  13. junb says:

    Although the camera shot can be deceiving compare to the actual one that MM saw. But it’s good to know some of the fact from Nadia. How long can a fresh fish stay fresh in terms of hr? Assuming the fish was caught at around 2-3am from a nearby sea and probably reach market at around 5am. What is the best time to get it in the market still fresh?

    Oct 12, 2010 | 12:30 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    Nadia, cool, thanks for those tips, much appreciated. Actually, I thought the lapu-lapu eyes appeared quite clear in person, but the photo does seem to suggest it is a bit cloudy… I added another photo of the same fish at the bottom of the original post. This one does not capture the blueness but it does look clearer. But thanks for your comments. One also needs to look out for dynamited fish that appear okay, except that their internal organs can be ruptured… On another note, we also bought brilliant looking fish once, but got horrific food poisoning, probably from trace amounts of cyanide… yikes.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 1:08 pm

  15. sonny sj says:

    MM, another great fish for steaming is white Pompano, espcially if you come across a very fat one.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 1:43 pm

  16. jakbkk says:

    isn’t GAROUPA also lapu-lapu?

    Oct 12, 2010 | 2:00 pm

  17. Angela says:

    MM, is Lapu-lapu the same with Hammour? They both have spots so I thought they would probably be the same..=)

    Oct 12, 2010 | 2:37 pm

  18. rita says:

    that is one awesome shot of the fish eye.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 4:33 pm

  19. deirdregurl says:

    yes, i agree with sonny sj…pompano is also great for steaming.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 8:15 pm

  20. Vicky says:

    That looks yum! I see coral trout ( some dark and some are red in colour in the seafood shops which look like our lapu lapu in the Philippines)I have not tried it though. I will try it sometime. The maya maya looks like the snapper I see at Costi’s .

    Oct 12, 2010 | 9:16 pm

  21. GayeN says:

    i envy those who can readily cook lapu-lapu like this. the seafood offering at our town’s market is pitiful with only tilapia, hito, bangus and a couple of shellfish. the fishmongers(at least the ones i asked) don’t even know what a lapu-lapu looks like!

    i wished i can try this at home, maybe substitute for some large tilapia instead…

    Oct 13, 2010 | 7:18 am

  22. kurzhaar says:

    fried neurons, as a general rule you should avoid buying grouper in the US–it is not a sustainable fishery and there are many other species that are a better choice. Check out the suggestions (and detailed explanations of fishery status for each species) for your part of the country at the Monterey Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch” project: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

    Oct 13, 2010 | 7:55 am

  23. stella says:

    It took a while for me to get corresponding fish names from different places for one fish species, but this website really helped:


    Oct 13, 2010 | 10:06 am

  24. kitch says:

    Where is the best place to buy fresh fish (snapper or lau-lapu) here in metro manila?

    Oct 13, 2010 | 12:45 pm

  25. phil says:

    MM, thanks for another good post. You mentioned about APAHAP. It was decades ago since I last enjoyed one. I can no longer find it in our wet markets in Bataan. I really don’t know the reason except perhaps, like many of our other fish species, it’s already near extinction, sadly. Will really appreciate it if you can kindly give tips on where the fish might be available in Metro Manila or nearby provinces? Many thanks.

    Oct 13, 2010 | 8:13 pm

  26. roland says:

    MM try this – its my fave redfish (which i think is a trout) recipe


    Oct 14, 2010 | 4:14 am

  27. Marketman says:

    roland, thanks for that link. phil, APAHAP is now FARMED in Mindanao, and available frozen in several manila locations. I believe the Sarangani brand company better known for bangus also markets the apahap. They have an office on Pasong Tamo Extension, in Makati where I suppose they would know where the retail outlets are. The apahap they freeze are quite small, but still nice. kitch, Seaside market in Baclaran for me is the best place to shop for fish, but Farmer’s market in QC is pretty good too. stella, yes, I do like that fish site… kurzhaar, thanks for that interesting link as well. Angela, sorry, I am not familiar with Hammou…

    Oct 14, 2010 | 8:05 pm

  28. RobKSA says:

    Hammour is the lapu-lapu of the Arabian (or Persian, depending on which side of the gulf you live :-)) Gulf. It is way way better tasting than our lapu-lapu in the Philippines. They used to grow upto 30 kilos each (and very cheap) when I first came to Saudi Arabia. However, due to overfishing they are pretty rare and very expensive nowadays. When I first came to Saudi Arabia, the head is given free of charge,,, think about sinigang … heaven! But now everything is sold, including the guts i reckon, hehehe.

    Oct 17, 2010 | 2:28 pm

  29. irene says:

    Hi there, i am a follower, just out of curiosity, what do you do for a living? :-P i know it’s kind of personal.. but maybe naiinggit ako bec. you have the time/luxury doing the things you like/love..

    Oct 25, 2010 | 10:47 pm

  30. angela says:

    Marketman, i’m happy to see new blogs in your site. I thought you planned to stop writing for a while so i also stopped checking. Then I thought i would just read the old blogs much to my surprise… great to be reading your stories again!

    Nov 5, 2010 | 3:48 pm

  31. home.tibiao.com says:

    hi, I love this site and i follow this. May i ask permission to use some of your photos in my blog and i am going to link it to you site. thanks.

    May 24, 2011 | 2:12 pm


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