26 Feb2011


I was at Mercato Centrale at the Fort this morning at 7:15am or so. I figured if the market opened at 6am, all vendors would be set up and selling their goods by this time, Filipino time taken into account. As an early riser, and pathological-must-get-to-the-market-first kind of shopper, waiting till 7:00am to get going was unusual for me. To my surprise, half of the tables were empty or barely even setting up. Frankly, that was a turn-off. If you publicize a market as opening from 6am-2pm, shouldn’t the vendors be there on time? I was chatting with a couple of the vendors and they said their hours changed to 7am-2pm, but I’m not sure how the customers would know that, particularly since Mercato’s own website here still shows 6am-2pm on their main page (upper right hand), but in each recent post, they do confusingly mention 7am-2pm hours. This just seems to bolster my view that this is really more of food bazaar, and the selling and buying emphasis is really more on prepared foods or baked goods, rather than produce and other raw ingredients. If you can’t buy fresh fish or meat and have a limited selection of vegetables, but have dozens of prepared food vendors, it’s probably best described as a food bazaar… Nothing wrong with that, it’s just a different market for a different target market.


I have been to Mercato several times in the past few weeks for the primary reason that an Aunt has repeatedly requested that I cook this chicken liver recipe again… Unfortunately, on the first visit the vendor had no livers in stock, and said to come back the following weekend. The next week, still no livers, but they said they were arriving on Monday, so they should have them in stock today. So I go back and still no livers. Bummer. I took their number this time and will call before I go back, no use wasting gas and effort. Already there, I decided to pick up some nice bangus tinapa that I had tried a few weeks ago, but the table was empty, not sure if they only sell on Sundays, or if they were more than 45 minutes late. I realize the market is young and trying to find its stride, but reliability and abundant supplies do count for long term success. Many vendors inside the tents are testing their wares and sometimes appear to book tables sporadically, or at least it seems that way to me. And some vendors move around from table to table, without a fixed location. This makes for a rather confusing set-up that is less conducive to return visits. I did manage to purchase a few other interesting items from the vendors that did open on time and I will be featuring these items in the next few posts…


Up top I found some Sinaing na Tawilis at the Farm n Deli table. I have never cooked fish sinaing style (simmered for a long time with lots of dried and or fresh kamias or iba and salt) so I was curious to taste them. I like sour things and this reminds me a bit of inun-unan or paksiw na isda, so I purchased one order — four wrapped portions of four tawilis each, sixteen small fish in total.


When I got home we microwaved the fish to heat them up, at the suggestion of the saleslady, and tasted them for breakfast with rice. I just tasted the fish, which I found surprisingly bland and not particularly memorable. But maybe I am missing the point, maybe it’s supposed to be subtly sour and salty. But I wasn’t the only one who thought these were less appealing than the other fish we purchased. Maybe they would have been better deep-fried. That’s what we did with the Sinaing na Tulingan purchased at the same stall and that tasted very nice after frying them, redolent with that oily rich dark meat of tulingan, infused with lots of kamias or iba flavor. Now that I’ve tasted both of these, I wonder if I can figure out a decent recipe to cook them at home myself. If you can’t be bothered to do that, however, you can get them at Farm n’ Deli.


In photo above, from left to right: Tinapang Tonsoy PHP130, Sinaing na Tulingan PHP150 and Sinaing na Tawilis PHP150. Available at the Mercato Centrale weekend market, or call numbers below:

Farm n’ Deli



  1. ann says:

    yes MM i can attest to that. we were there around 7:45am today and most of the tenants were not there yet and some were just starting to set up… it was our first time to go and of course, curious as i was, checked the website yesterday and was overwhelmed of the variety and choices they offer… it was kinda disappointing to not see it in its “full glory” so to speak… nevertheless, we learned our lesson… we’ll come around 9am next time… Im gonna take my husband who’s coming home next week from a 10-month contract on board a cruise ship… kudos to your website, I never fail to visit everyday…:-)

    Feb 26, 2011 | 8:53 pm


  2. Notice: Undefined variable: oddcomment in /home/marketman/marketmanila.com/wp-content/themes/marketmanila-v2/comments.php on line 33
  3. rachel says:

    i love sinaing na tawilis and tulingan. we usually cook the tawilis until it’s really soft and you can eat the whole thing, bones, heads and all. we usually put pork fat at the bottom too so when the water dries out and the fat rendered it fries the fish a little bit.yum. now i have to find tawilis and bangus here.haaayyyy.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 9:03 pm

  4. chrisb says:

    I had the same experience last year. I went there at 7am and only half of the vendors were set up ready to sell. I was looking for a specific product so I just left when I didn’t find it. I’d love to browse through the vendors’ offerings more thoroughly though. Haven’t had the chance to go back since, maybe I’ll try it again next week.

    BTW, I tried yuor adobo recipe with my dad’s homemade sukang iloko (sugarcane vinegar). It turned out very well, delicious!

    Feb 26, 2011 | 9:10 pm

  5. Mom-Friday says:

    This is something new to me! I’m so used to crispy tawilis and ginataang tulingan :)))
    Was planning to go to Mercato this morning but kids won and we skipped it.
    Thanks for sharing your experience, at least I know what to expect when I get the chance to finally go. I was actually hoping to find fresh produce, seafoods….and like you said, it seemed more like a Food Bazaar — the site did feature their floor plan w/ vendor names. Guess I need to check their weekly vendor list before we go.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 11:27 pm

  6. betty q. says:

    Funny you had this post on today, MM. I was craving fo rmy aunt’s sinaing na tulingan the other day…went to the Asian store and ended up buying king mackerel steaks. The whole fish was waaaay to big for me. I intended on making it into sinaing na mackerel….ended up adding julienned ginger ( to get rid of it in the cooler), lots of crushed garlic and loooots of sweet onions…..added patis to taste, a little toyo for color…(pale brown)…a little vinegar, salt and crushed pepper. What started out to be sinaing ended up sinaing-paksiw…oh, added some taba and a touch of canola. ……HEAVEN!!!!

    I also saw silverfish…not exactly dulong…but when done the same way and cooked in a presuure cooker…..really good with SKY FLAKES! I think I will do the silverfish done like I make canned salmon next time…with olive oil, chorizo, bay leaves, red peppers, etc. If you have a presuure cooker already, MM…try the dulong done like canned salmon….

    Feb 27, 2011 | 2:50 am

  7. flip4ever says:

    My cousins cook sinaing na tulingan here in So Cal with the pork fat at the bottom as well. No kamias however, since it doesn’t seem to be available (not even in dried form) at the Filipino supermarkets. I wonder if rhubarb would work….

    Feb 27, 2011 | 9:02 am

  8. Carol says:

    Hi MM – by the looks of it and the write ups on the regular sellers in Marcato Centralle, it is really a food bazaar, rather than a fresh produce market. Sadly, we have yet to have a vibrant, outdoor fresh produce market here in the Metro. Before I got sick, I am a regular shopper at the weekend Lung Center – there’s a lot of organic fresh produce interspersed with homemade local delicacies and some clothing materials. It’s one of the things I miss most at this time! :)

    Anyway, I have learned how to cook authentic sinaing na tulingan from my father-in-law who hails from Batangas. Like adobo, it has to be cooked in a wood-fired palayok for long hours. I will email you the recipe and detailed procedures, so you can also have the joy of cooking a true authentic and delicious sinaning na tulingan which I hope you can have for your diet so you can enjoy it yourself :). Unfortunately,if you were not impressed with the sinaning you bought at Mercato, then it really ain’t good, because a well made sinaing na isda comes out really delicious in its original sinaning form or in its fried form a few days after. I will email the recipe to you now!

    Cheers and have a great weekend!

    Feb 27, 2011 | 9:42 am

  9. Gerry says:

    It might be the cost of renting in Mercato that’s not attractive to the fresh produce vendors. Sidcor has a lot more fresh produce vendors since they probably charge a much lower rate. I was just in Sidcor now and they do have a lot more shoppers than Mercato.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 11:15 am

  10. Marketman says:

    Gerry, is that still at Sidcor? Or the one that moved to Lung Center and now to Centris? I think I will go to the Centris market next Sunday, I hear only good things about it lately… I agree with the cost of table analysis, I think Mercato charges over PHP1,000 for a tiny table, so its definitely profit driven for the organizers, but they then again they had to invest in tents, aircons, rent, etc. I agree though, the three other weekend markets I frequent have far more folks shopping for non-cooked food items.

    Carol, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I will definitely try it the next time I am in the beach and have access to tulingan and or tawilis. Thanks! bettyq, I can just imagine the looks on your neighbors faces when they get a whiff of the exhaust from your kitchen! :) chrisb, glad the adobo worked out, so far mostly good reviews, though one person said it didn’t quite turn out as they had expected.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 11:20 am

  11. Gerry says:

    Sidcor is the group that runs the weekend market I think. They moved from Lung Center to Centris a couple of months ago. This is the largest of the weekend markets. It would be interesting to compare the demographics of the existing weekend markets since I think that QC has a much larger middle class community than both Taguig and Makati combined. So while those areas might have a wealthier clientele, QC is really the place for the vendors to make money.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 12:33 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    Gerry, I know a few vendors who sell Saturdays in Makati, and Sundays at Sidcor. I think they do good business in both, but I have to say, several of them let on that they brought their goods in fresh Friday night from the North and South, displaying them first on Saturday in Makati, with leftovers (along with other new stocks never brought out) sold on Sunday at Sidcor. Sometimes I used to see a price differential of 10-15% for the same produce item from the same vendor at the two different markets on consecutive days. Interesting… I like high volume markets, and used to go to Sidcor often, but have been remiss in the past couple of years… will have to go again next weekend. Thanks.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 12:52 pm

  13. Gerry says:

    MM, your observation may be true for some vendors who have stalls in both Salcedo and Sidcor, but it may surprise you that a great number of the produce vendors in Sidcor come from Farmer’s Market. I also remember talking to a bread vendor a few years back who said that he made much more in Sidcor than he did in Salcedo since there were a lot more people in the QC market, but that’s just one person so I can’t really say if it’s true for all.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 1:25 pm

  14. Gerry says:

    A bit off topic but I think that with all the news reports about food inflation, I think it may be time to release another survey of food prices, similar to what you did last year. It’s a great guide to see how prices move, considering both inflation and the seasonality of products.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 1:31 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Gerry, yup, its just that it takes a WHOLE lot of work to compile the data and write it up. Will do one soon if enough readers promise to participate. Oddly, with the peso strengthening so much, most food prices should logically be dropping if they have an imported content… hence anything tinned, anything with a lot of foreign ingredients, fertilizers, appliances, etc. Car prices should also have fallen but they have remained the same. Packaged goods like cereals (though wheat globally has skyrocketed), canned goods, personal care items, etc. should all have come down in price. The peso is now some 20% stronger than 2 years ago or so… I suspect importers are mostly doing very well. I do feel badly for families of OFWs who now have less in peso terms to spend at the markets… I have no doubt vendors at Centris have a larger market and sales, they have so many customers there compared to the smaller Makati markets…

    Feb 27, 2011 | 1:52 pm

  16. betty q. says:

    MM… it is minus something here and was like that since last week. It just started snowing and everyone does not want to stay outside more than they should….that is why I had the nerve to make chicharon, sinaing-paksiw na mackerel and XO. Howver, at home is a different story, I have hubby’s gadget out for an hour to get rid of the WONDERFUL -KAKAGUTOM smell!

    Feb 27, 2011 | 2:01 pm

  17. Quillene Petite says:

    Sinaing na tulingan! Yum! One of my favorites!

    Feb 27, 2011 | 7:45 pm

  18. ruth says:

    Hi MM, have you tried cooking sinaing na tulingan? with kamyas na tuyo, garlic and pork fat, rock salt and lots of black pepper in a palayok via woodfire for one whole day? sarapp

    Feb 27, 2011 | 8:42 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    ruth, I mentioned in the post that I have never cooked any fish sinaing style.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 10:04 pm

  20. millet says:

    the sinaing na tulingan sold at sidcor is really delicious, and the seller adds some of the cooking liquid to serve as dipping sauce for the fish. ohh, my mouth is watering right now.

    and talking about tawilis, i was at the mahogany market in tagaytay last month, and was encouraged to buy dried tawilis since the sellers insisted that it was very lightly salted. when i fried some at home, it was so salty even after a long soak in vinegar. i miss the old semi-dry tawilis that used to be sold skewered on bamboo sticks – three or four to a skewer, i think.

    MM, i also bought some green pinipig at the market, and made it into “bikong sariwang pinipig”. i simply cooked the pinipig with coconut milk, sugar and water until thick. i think i’ll add some sweetened macapuno or some firm buco shreds next time i cook it. too bad we don’t have sariwang pinipig here. and yes, i topped it with some latik. yummy!

    Feb 27, 2011 | 10:15 pm

  21. juanang says:

    hi carol! pls share with us also your recipe of sinaing na tulingan….(“,) if its a recipe from batangas…oh it must be sooo good! (“,)

    Feb 28, 2011 | 7:40 am

  22. Tasha says:

    You should check out the sidcor market up north (edsa centris on sundays) :)

    Feb 28, 2011 | 12:05 pm

  23. MParedes says:

    Hi MM

    If Carol doesn’t mind, can you please post her recipe?

    The Mecato has been a disappointment in more ways than one… i was in Manila a couple of months back and stayed in the vicinity so i tried to check it out a number of times. On my fourth visit, i gave up. it is not worth waking up early for!

    Mar 1, 2011 | 4:10 am

  24. gn says:

    We were at Mercato at exactly 7am a few weeks back and were disappointed that half the vendors weren’t there, with the other half barely set up. We had to wait 40 mins to get breakfast. And the food wasn’t that great. Sayang because there are so many people who run early in that area. The organizers should be more firm with the operating hours.

    Mar 1, 2011 | 8:27 pm

  25. Bubut says:

    i went to mercato on a sunday after we joined a marathon, that was around 9am and there are still tables that were empty. The prices are so high and we end up buying a tortang talong worth p100, a simple pita bread for P175. it is really a food bazaar for the class A audience. If i want to go to a food bazaar, Bancheto at Emerald avenue is better with lots of choices, prices are reasonable and the serving is big.

    Mar 3, 2011 | 10:53 am

  26. Cynthia Torres says:

    Thank you for featuring our sinaing ‘selection”. The sinaing na tawilis, I find is best enjoyed with the “patis” (which is actually the broth of the sinaing) with calamansi. Another twist is dipping it in “Patis Labo” – “unang katas ng patis” (fish sauce) with calamansi again. Really really brings out the flavor of the tawilis!

    You are right, we from Batangas fry our tulingan which makes it tastier. I have a customer who shreds the tulingan and cooks it with olive oil and capers – I guess that’s what you call gourmet tulingan? haven’t tried it though.

    Another favorite of mine is cooking the tulingan with coconut milk. I just put the tulingan in a pot, add some of its sauce, big green sili and a can of coconut milk. I bring to boil without stirring. It is really good.

    Mar 7, 2011 | 11:01 am


Market Manila Home · Topics · Archives · About · Contact · Links · RSS Feed

site design by pixelpush

Market Manila © 2004 - 2021