21 Apr2010


“What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” Yeah, right. Well, now you know. Isn’t the picture above worth at least a dozen words? Heeheehee. While I am sure many of you just LOVE your dried fish, as I do, you probably just conveniently ignore the very real possibility that it was manufactured in a less than totally “hygienic” manner. I am not a food scientist, but suffice it to say that hundreds if not thousands of years ago, some smart and/or lucky human living on a sea coast somewhere near the equator figured out that copious amounts of sea salt applied to highly perishable fish, left to dry under the hot sun would result in conveniently preserved food. Dried fish could be stored away for a rainy, stormy and lazy day. Salt has some wonderful qualities, and lots of salt seems to ward off all kinds of evil such as wicked bacteria. So I suppose we shouldn’t fret when…


…you are a tourist in Coron and head to the section of town that is home to the largest dried fish vendors, and amazed by the selection and prices of their goods (some 1/2 or 1/3 those in Manila), you manage to fill up an enormous box with some 15 kilos of dried fish to bring back to Manila. And just as you are paying for the fish, and getting the spiel that it is homemade and fresh, you realize that they are drying the fish on mats just 20 feet away, across the road on the opposite shoulder. And staying just long enough for me to whip out my camera and focus, little doggy dog up top takes a couple of whiffs and licks of the drying fish. Ewww is right. Forget the proximity to the passing buses, trucks, cars and tricycles…


…or the hundreds of folks coming out of the nearby passenger pier who walk right by the fish… Reality sucks sometimes. You just have to hope that all of those assorted cooties will die a violent death when they are deep fried in hot fat. :)


Doesn’t the dried fish just look so wonderful and harmless it’s wrapped in clear plastic bags?


The variety of dried fishes and squids on offer was impressive, and despite the doggie visual we continued with our purchases.


Thick meaty pieces of fish are great in soups and stews.


With nothing better to do, the Teen stuck her head in a sack filled with fish and took a deep breath and nearly fainted. Hahaha. Talk about Eau de Daing. Wickedly pungent. How can something that smells so bad be so darned good? :)



  1. MrsKookie says:

    Maybe thats why they’re so good! ;)

    Apr 21, 2010 | 4:27 pm


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  3. Rowi says:

    What about the greenish-blueish moldy roquefort or stilton? Or a newly-opened over-ripe durian? Aren’t they stinking mad and yet taste heavenly? At the least, the dried fish go through some heating process which hopefully kills unwanted bacteria, the moldy cheeses, we eat as is.

    I love dried fish except for tuyo, I can’t stand it when these are fried.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 4:38 pm

  4. Jake Speed says:

    Now I know the reason why these darnedly delicious daings have a lot of character.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 5:15 pm

  5. thelma says:

    those pictures are a turn off. i’d rather have home made
    daing na bangus…

    Apr 21, 2010 | 5:27 pm

  6. hunter says:

    organic dirt like these is still better than the balsamo (that chemical thing they use to ambalm dead bodies) that i saw being sprayed in some dried fish in Pangasinan.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 5:34 pm

  7. denise says:

    I remember back in the 80’s up to the early 90’s, a significant length of the National Highway in Bataan is used to dry dilis on sticks and I guess other fish as well…and we love those dilis on sticks! And the pungent smell is one indicator we were getting near my grandma’s house!

    I think the hot asphalt/cement road and the hotter sun speeds up the drying process

    Apr 21, 2010 | 5:40 pm

  8. Connie C says:

    But the poor doggie looks so scrawny and malnourished….famine in the midst of plenty.

    I had not seen prized fish such as lapulapu and mullet as daing before Palawan. In many coastal areas where catch is plentiful and refrigeration is not available, the fish are dried and taken to market. So yummy with garlic fried rice. UMmm, I can smell it from here .

    Apr 21, 2010 | 6:28 pm

  9. Footloose says:

    Remember, it is the scent of controlled putrefaction that we seek in highly esteemed delicacies such as cheese and charcuitrie. Part of the reason too why the traditional treatment for pheasant was to hang it for a couple of days to allow it to loosen out, faisander as the French, ever the connoisseurs of perfume, call it. What about the aging of beef or of Spanish ham? It is to this constant acquaintance too with a truly wide range of culinary smells that Luca Turin (Emperor of Scent) attributes the French’s edge and renown in perfumery.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 6:49 pm

  10. rowena ganut lyle says:


    I agreed with you, the hot oil will kill all the cooties from the dried fish coupled with sukaang maanghang (or I hope it would). Love them for breakfast, with sinangag + fried eggs.


    Apr 21, 2010 | 8:04 pm

  11. cusinera says:

    we need some cooties in our system…if we are too clean it’s not healthy=)

    Apr 21, 2010 | 8:16 pm

  12. natie says:

    …always one of the “must-bring-back” after vacation..the doggie keeps its scrawny ‘physique’ since he doesn’t eat its daing with a pile of hot rice..

    Apr 21, 2010 | 8:42 pm

  13. Christina says:

    Eh, I agree with cusinera. Our bodies are pretty resilient.

    I remember my ecology professor telling me that on average we consume over 2 pounds of insect parts in our breakfast cereal, over a lifetime. There’s all kinds of stuff it’s just better to not visualize where food is concerned.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 9:38 pm

  14. lorraine says:

    eau de daing –> funny!

    Apr 21, 2010 | 11:22 pm

  15. rex says:

    My sister and her husband who went to the US on their mid-20’s now cannot tolerate tap water in the Philippines. After staying there for more than 10 years they have lost their resiliency to some common waterborne bacterias. They even don’t want ice cubes on their softdrinks here because they can still sometimes experience tummy pain. So only bottled water for them when they visit Manila.

    I do agree with cusinera. We need to develop our own antibodies by exposing ourselves to some cooties too.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 12:03 am

  16. Brian Asis says:

    That’s actually the “beauty” behind dried fish :D At least it’s not as bad as wet products like taho, like the ones they feature in some television shows. Most bacteria thrives in wet and moist environments, so when you fry them they’ll just die, and I do hope that I won’t see any cockroach legs on my “tuyo”

    Apr 22, 2010 | 12:09 am

  17. mardie c",) says:

    ignorance is bliss…sometimes. how about cebu’s ginamos? looks like mud but tastes oh-so heavenly. yep, a little cooties here and there can’t hurt ya ;-D

    Apr 22, 2010 | 12:21 am

  18. Lora says:

    lami man ang buad.,,, sir merun ba murag greenhills sa cebu?

    Apr 22, 2010 | 12:25 am

  19. meh says:

    This totally reminds me of the study showing that having intestinal parasites such as hookworms can prevent allergies and asthma! Isn’t that a crazy thought?!?! See here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8268584.stm

    Even weirder… here is the story of an American man who intentionally infected himself with parasites and is now selling his intestinal ‘pets’ as asthma/allergy cures! http://preview.tinyurl.com/yjj2gkd

    Apr 22, 2010 | 3:48 am

  20. lalaine says:

    I cannot in a million years attempt to do just what the Teen did. hehe. such a brave one! Whenever we buy dried fish in the Cebu market, I always make it a point not to do it on the day of departure. Unless we wanted the entire plane to smell like daing.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 4:38 am

  21. Fards says:

    @Rowie. What is the difference between dried fish and tuyo?

    Ngeee,alright. I think those are the kind of dried fish I prefer, too. I suppose the dried fish from Cebu are done the same way. But, I will still have my dried fish whenever I can. Fried longer, now I see where/how they dry them ;).

    Apr 22, 2010 | 5:35 am

  22. KUMAGCOW says:

    OMAYGAD!!! That dog photo was really disturbing… it even had skin disease (x_X)

    Apr 22, 2010 | 5:52 am

  23. ntgerald says:

    It has been reported that very very clean environments while growing up is associated with increased allergies and asthma (also a form of hypersensitivity).

    When I was in the USA I was careful not to cook tuyo during the winter months because the smell travels through air ducts and heating systems of apartment building and it is not fair to the other building occupants a sone cannot readily open doors and windows to air out.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 7:09 am

  24. effigy says:

    To prevent the aroma from wafting through the ducts and crevices, my sister wraps the danggit or dried pusit in aluminum foil then applies heat from a flat iron (clothes not hair).

    Apr 22, 2010 | 8:12 am

  25. jumper says:

    your buying at the wrong place. pagadian and zamboanga have better drying area…atleast far from all the cars and side walks.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 8:32 am

  26. Christine Tham says:

    Do you know that too much salted fish can cause nose cancer ‘NPC’

    Apr 22, 2010 | 9:09 am

  27. Jose says:

    Ummmm…. Yum?

    Apr 22, 2010 | 9:52 am

  28. joyce says:

    this reminds me of an article i read that explains results of a study that found that bacteria found in seaweed remain in japanese tummies to help them digest the seaweed better. The study says this explains why the Japanese are predisposed to eat more sushi compared to americans. see the article here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/04/07/gut-bacteria-in-japanese-people-borrowed-sushi-digesting-genes-from-ocean-bacteria/

    maybe pinoys now have dried fish bacteria in their gut that helps us digest these types of food better hehe ;P

    Apr 22, 2010 | 9:57 am

  29. millet says:

    i once bought several kilos of extremely nice-looking lapu-lapu bulad in iloilo, but when i got home, i was horrified to see many fat maggots. i had to throw the whole caboodle away, but a friend later told me i shouldn’t have done that since all bulad have maggots, anyway. good thing i’m i not an avid fan of bulad.

    my dad-in-law told us stories of zamboanga bagoong in the old days: “de mano” was more expensive because it was mixed by hand, while “de pie” was mixed with the feet. hmmm…wine-stomping, bagoong-stomping….same-same :-)

    scarier than maggots, i think, would be the formalin in which some fish are soaked before being dried, supposedly to keep the flesh firm. that’s a common practice, apparently.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 10:19 am

  30. Rico says:

    Naku MM I have the same theory about street food: despite the questionale preparation, it tastes diffrent when you cook it at home. Nevertheless, I still wouldn’t say no to dried fish, or street food for that matter.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 11:47 am

  31. Ehba says:

    I don’t know about the dog, but I know that old fashion drying of newly harvested palay is done on the side road; kaya nga as a child, we put the rice (that we’re about to cook) in a bilao, and its our chores to take out the mini-stones. With these “tuyo” process, eh bakit ang bagoong, ganuon din naman di-ba? And yet, we love them. I rather they are “fresh-fish” salted and dried completely, than “bugnoy”fish, na hindi naasinan ng husto, tapos hindi napatuyo completely, tapos ayun ibinalot agad sa plastic. At the store, I see it sometimes na medio may “mold”. Even those that are exported here in U.S., somehow, naka-lampas sa check-out ng mga exported products.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 1:17 pm

  32. erleen says:

    Hi MM!

    I don’t remember you mentioning the Maquinit saltwater hotspring in Coron. Have you been there? After all the traveling we did (going to Calauit and back), soaking in the very warm water was a treat.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 1:25 pm

  33. Mom-Friday says:

    This made me LOL! We always have ‘bulad’ at home and my mom used to say ‘if you only knew where and how these were dried…’ hahaha…so that’s what deep-frying is for. Great with a side of fresh tomatoes and vinegar!

    Apr 22, 2010 | 1:36 pm

  34. Belgin says:

    When I was young whenever my mother prepare our daily meals, I acquired the basic knowledge of cooking by helping her in the kitchen. One thing I learned from her is to wash the dried fish through running water to lessen the saltiness and to get rid of the unwanted elements from its drying process before frying it.

    Daing and other salted fish products is considered one of comfort food of us pinoys worlwide. Well, due to the restriction of salt intake we don’t eat it now as much as we used to.


    Apr 22, 2010 | 2:25 pm

  35. Jack Hammer says:

    The best dried fish in the world to a Goan or Mumbaite is dried Bombay Duck.
    I am sure Filipinos who have tried this stuffed with Rechado Masala will be waiting to get their next hit.
    My dream is to open a Goan Restaurant somewhere in Metro Manila in the next two/three years.
    Till then I will just enjoy MM’s Blog.

    Apr 22, 2010 | 5:11 pm

  36. Jack Hammer says:

    MM…Have you come across this fish in the Philippines ???

    Apr 22, 2010 | 5:13 pm

  37. Marketman says:

    Jack, how bizarre, I think I just saw one the other day, will do a post on it. Locals refer to it as a “lizard fish” in native dialect…

    Apr 23, 2010 | 6:44 am

  38. sc says:

    hahaha love the teen! :)

    Apr 23, 2010 | 12:33 pm

  39. home economist Lee says:

    rice is also dried this way. i used to wash rice only once but a few years ago i saw a dog pee, as in urinate on bigas being dried on the road! my jaw dropped. i now wash rice at least twice. hahaha!

    Apr 24, 2010 | 9:52 pm

  40. ShoppaHolique says:

    egad! I remembered your old post about dried fish with maggots. Good thing I don’t like dried fish. Although I think extensive exposure to sunlight and all that salt would’ve killed the cooties.

    Apr 25, 2010 | 2:38 am

  41. kitongzki says:

    haha… this post is funny… reminds me of eating home cooked fishballs with homemade sauce. It just tastes different than those from the street vendors where some wicked customers double dip their fishballs into the sauce. hahahaha

    Just like what they always say, mas masarap ang madumi… lol…

    I even eat at those pares stalls here in makati after or before work. If you’re familiar with it, we, call center agents call it mura na madumi pa… hahaha

    Apr 25, 2010 | 4:23 pm

  42. mbv says:

    “Eau de Daing” makes my day ….lol

    Apr 27, 2010 | 11:26 am

  43. Jack Hammer says:

    You did !!!! That’s wonderful….I love fresh Bombay Duck Curry with Fresh Cilantro leaves, green chillies, garlic and ginger and cumin all ground to a fine paste.

    I also love fresh Bombay Duck coated with Semolina and shallow fried.

    But my best Pulutan is Dried Bombay Duck fried to a crisp inside a bed of Charcoal embers and drizzled with Coconut Oil.

    I guess its a favourite of the Tsinoys too.

    May 11, 2010 | 4:51 pm

  44. Jean says:

    Hello everyone, I am looking to buy dried fish and have it sent to the US, do you know anyone who can sell me some? I would like it without bones, cut in strips, skin is ok, little or no salt if possible. You can text me on 14804528189 or email smartaffair@yahoo.com with subject line saying ‘Dried Fish”. Thank you!

    May 12, 2010 | 2:10 am

  45. mark anthony vinas says:

    not all dried fish vendors do the same as this guys do. In our province (catanduanes) we really do wash/clean them good, watch over them while they are dried…

    May 26, 2010 | 9:40 am

  46. quyquy says:

    Here in Bataan, Most especially in unique Barangay of Pto. RIvas, Balanga,the fish were dried 1 meter above ground using layers of bamboo. It is directly sundried right beside the seashore where this fresh fish were salted and laid just in a couple of hours. It is 1 day dried and then ready for shipment. We assure that our products were clean.. free from cooties, doggies and catties!
    In fact, one entrepreneur here is shipping here products in as far as California, joining food trades there and encouraging buyer to visit our very own Balanga.. the Dried Fish Village .. the capital of Bataan…
    Food preparation really matters… That is why we value the health of our customers. At least they got sick because of overeating not because of cooties infection.

    Sep 28, 2010 | 9:07 pm


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