07 Aug2006


When we are at the beach, I rarely miss a Saturday or Sunday trip to the seafood section of the Nasugbu town market. Although we often bring food from Manila, we almost always rely on market finds for at least 1 or 2 meals during a weekend. We have the drill down pat and simply finny2bring the fresh and canned ingredients that we are most likely to use in the event that the market yields superb shellfish or fish…otherwise, we improvise. One of my brilliant crew members is the resident fish expert. He grew up in Palawan and is pretty good about identifying fish species and can tell if it is wicked fresh or a likely victim of dynamite fishing. Even if he can’t name a particular fish, his visual recollection is quite sharp that he can point it out using one of my reference books when we get back to Manila. Yesterday morning, we spotted this stunning, but I mean stunning, looking fish while trolling the market…

I had never seen it before and my photos belie its rather impressive size. At just under 2 feet in length, it weighed over a kilo. Though I had rightly guessed it must be a close finny3relative of the talakitok or tulingan (the former is the closer answer), I had no clue what it tasted like or how to cook it. What was striking about it was how fresh it looked; as if it had just leapt out of the sea and into my market basket. A beautiful bluish grey, it had multiple fins or finlets at the top side of the body and it looked as polished and sleek as a marine Ferrari. It was also impressive in that the scales and bone structure made the skin look quite unique and interesting. It is actually a Finny Scad (Megalaspis cordyla), according to my book on Marine Fishes of Southeast Asia by Gerry Allen. It can grow to about 30 inches in length so the one we purchased was quite large. At PHP100 a kilo, it cost just PHP130 and could easily feed 8 hungry folks.

Back home, the crew decided to simply grill it naked above a hot charcoal fire. While the results were less than photogenic, the charred skin yielded a fleshy fish that was finny4excellent with just about anything you dipped it in…soy sauce, patis, lemons, kalamansi, siling labuyo, vinegar – take your pick. The meat was paler than fish of the tuna family, and less oily, but it made for very good eating. And since we served it with another delicious seafood based rice dish that I finally got right (recipe up soon), we had a superb lunch that day… Please leave a comment if you know the Visayan or Tagalog name for this fish…kubal-kubal is what they call it on the island of Coron…



  1. Robksa says:

    Looks like a family of jacks, maybe Mackerel? Maybe Adlao in Western Visayas? Maybe Sigarillo in Cebuano?

    Aug 7, 2006 | 6:03 pm


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  3. Robksa says:

    “common names” in tagalog from the internet are Atulay, Bakutut, Balangoan, Malaguno, Pak-an. ang yes, matang-baka daw sa Maguindanao. But this I think is also known as Kubal-kubal even in Cebu (sabi sa internet). Here (Saudi, yong mga other english speaking scuba divers) we just call it either a scad or a jack.

    Aug 7, 2006 | 6:14 pm

  4. erleen says:

    Hi MM! where’d you find that book of yours? tried looking for it in national bookstore but they do not seem to have it.

    Aug 7, 2006 | 6:37 pm

  5. Apicio says:

    It’s cmmonly called matang-baka in Bataan.

    Aug 7, 2006 | 6:42 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    erleen, I think I bought it at Fully Booked in Rockwell. It is published by Periplus out of Singapore so it should be available all over Asia. I also have Genevieve Broad’s book Fishes of the Philippines which is less comprehensive but useful nonetheless, available at National and other bookstores. Robksa, thanks for that, duh, I forgot to do a quick internet search myself! It is from the family of jacks or trevally if you are Australian(!), not mackarels…

    Aug 7, 2006 | 6:43 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    Although it looks really similar to what is regularly referred to as matang-baka, which is actually a purse-eyed scad (selar crumenophthalmus) or oxeye scad (selar boops), it is quite different up close. Particularly with larger specimens, the shearing effect on the skin/scales on the back half of the body is noticeably different. And matang-baka seem to only grow to 12 inches. I have an earlier post with photos of matang-baka here http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/gone-fishin-alumahan-maya-maya-matangbaka-samaral

    Aug 7, 2006 | 6:46 pm

  8. Robksa says:

    Yes I agree with MM, it’s really not our usual matang-baka and he identified it correctly as a “Megalaspis cordyla” or Finny Scad.

    Aug 7, 2006 | 7:59 pm

  9. millet says:

    no, it is not matambaka, although it closely resembles that. there is a bony plate (hard scales?) at the tail end, and we get that every once in a while here in davao. i cannot recall at the moment what it’s called here, though. your crew is right – charcoal-grilling is the way to go.

    Aug 7, 2006 | 9:10 pm

  10. Choy says:

    it looks like “tambakol” to me. but then again, i’m no expert.

    Aug 8, 2006 | 7:37 am

  11. lee says:

    hey ya fish folk… try http://www.fishbase.org, quite comprehensive and you can search for local names of fish.

    But I really wish I could have marketman’s book for reference just in case a strange sea creature comes my way.

    Aug 8, 2006 | 7:40 am

  12. Marketman says:

    lee, I like that source too but you need good illustrations or photos as well… I stopped bringing the book to the market because I looked funny flipping pages while trying to nail the name of a fish…

    Aug 8, 2006 | 8:16 am

  13. lee says:

    yeah. lotsa scientific info on the site but they lack pics. They should have illustrations just like the ones in good posters and charts.
    Yeah.. you flipping pages from a book in a wet fishmarket would be quite a sight.

    Aug 8, 2006 | 8:56 am

  14. wyatt says:

    The ilonggo people call it bulao
    See if it looks similar to fish in this entry.


    Aug 9, 2006 | 9:37 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Wyatt, thanks for that, will check out the link… I can’t tell for sure from the photo in the link but the fish seems to be lacking the black spot a few inches behind the eye and the shearing effect on the skin near the tail…but at any rate…thanks!

    Aug 9, 2006 | 10:36 am

  16. Bubut says:

    if there will be left overs for that grilled fish, it would be delicious na pansahog sa gatang gulay (sitaw, or sigarillas).

    Aug 9, 2006 | 5:14 pm


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