A friend sent over some stunningly fresh bilong-bilong or iwas, also known as moonfish. And instantly Mrs. MM had it made into Inun-unan or paksiw. It was a nearly pavlovian response. Something borne out of a deep-seated set of pleasurable childhood memories eating this dish that was lovingly prepared for her by her yaya. My love for paksiw na isda is more recent, not something I fondly remember from childhood. To make, this was placed in a non-reactive pot, with some chunks of ginger, garlic, white vinegar, salt and sliced kamias. It was brought to a boil with the pot uncovered, then five minutes into the cooking a touch of vegetable oil was added, along with a couple of siling mahaba or finger chillies. The liquid was cooked down to nearly nothing (I actually prefer having a little more sauce) and it was served immediately with lots of rice.
The intensity of the flavor and aroma is memory jogging. I could identify this dish blindfolded. It is basic, sharply flavored and perfect comfort food with rice. But I do not think it is an easily acquired taste. Most folks have to have experienced this early to appreciate it later in life. I can see how this dish would taste even better if done in a palayok or clay pot. I have two other versions of inun-unan or paksiw in the archives, one made with bisugo and soured with dayap, here. And another version that Victor cooked up for us in Cebu, a few months ago, here.