15 Apr2014


I had never cooked sinaing or pinangat na tulingan before this attempt. But a search through some old posts of mine, associated reader comments, and the help of some locals in Nasugbu, Batangas meant I felt confident enough to at least give it a go. We didn’t grow up eating much sinaing or pinangat, but I viewed it to be a close cousin of paksiw na isda (in its many forms), so how different could it be? First of all, an interesting observation… while many people call this dish “sinaing na tulingan”… locals in Nasugbu said they always called this “pinangat na tulingan” which, for me, conjures images of “pinangat” from Bicol that has taro leaves, shrimps and coconut cream…


First, the proper tool(s). I had to purchase a new black palayok in the Nasugbu market. I am usually wary of the black palayoks, as you never know what they painted on to make them black. I don’t think they are naturally fired to a black finish. I then cleaned it out, boiled some water and vinegar in it for half an hour and did that again to “season” the pot. Now, to the ingredients. I decided to get BOTH fresh and DRIED kamias (iba or belimbi), chopped up some locally made (not iodized) rock salt, cracked black peppercorns, sliced ginger (some use this, some don’t), very fresh small tulingan fish, light green mild finger chilies, banana leaves and some strips of pork back fat (in the absence of pure lard).


Prep the fish. First, dock the tail (cut it off, why isn’t there an equivalent word to decapitate for the tail?! — could it be debuttitate?) and slit the fish with a sharp knife along the sides…


…then use the heel of your palm to flatten the fish a bit. I suspect this is partially to get the braising liquid closer to the bones, which soften after cooking.


Place each fish on a piece of banana leaf, season with some salt and pepper and add a slice of fresh kamias and one dried kamias and roll it up.


Into the bottom of the palayok add some lard or strips of back fat or leaf fat and fresh and dried kamias and start adding the individually wrapped fish.


After one layer, our pot fit four individually wrapped fish, add some ginger, kamias, salt pepper and sliced finger chilies and add on another layer. This medium sized palayok took about 1 kilo of fish or roughly 7-8 pieces.


Fill the palayok with water and place a large piece of banana leaf under the cover so that the steam doesn’t escape too quickly.


Prepare your wood or charcoal fire, here in the snazzy new barbecue we just finished building at the beach.


Bring pot to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the fish for say 2-2.5 hours or so. Watch it closely after an hour or so and if the liquid seems to be a bit too low, add some water.


You want about a cup or so of liquid when you finish, and some folks call this flavorful reduction “patis” and it is quite tasty and pungent.


Ours was sour, salty and filled with natural umami.


I was told that the sinning is BETTER the longer you leave it soaking in the remaining liquid, or aging it in the fridge and re-heating the following day. We couldn’t resist, so we unwrapped the fish and this is what it looked like fresh out of the palayok.


The bones were quite pliable, almost soft, but I still removed them from this photo. I am told some locals like to eat the fish and bones and all… The flesh was steeped in a nicely sour and salty flavor that was a step or two beyond a simple and quick paksiw with vinegar or kamias. The oily fish had a LOT of flavor, and it was a really nice pot of sinaing, if I say so myself. But the locals who ate it also gave it two thumbs up, a real vote of confidence from folks who have been cooking this for decades…


…and later that day, we deep fried the fish in vegetable oil (didn’t have lard or I would have used that) and I have to say, I liked it even better this way!


Dipped into a some fish sauce with kalamansi and chopped chili, this was simple comfort food heaven!



  1. corrine says:

    Hmmm…nakakagutom! As side dish, my mom used to prepare diced fresh tomatoes and onions and fresh coriander then she douses it with the sabaw of the sinaing na tulingan. Real comfort food!

    Apr 15, 2014 | 9:10 pm


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  3. besYS says:

    I love Pangat na Tulingan!
    Cooked in palayok makes it much better.
    Ang sarap!!
    Thanks MM!

    Apr 15, 2014 | 9:52 pm

  4. Jr. says:


    We loved tulingan! I remember eating lots of it when I was growing up in Binan, Laguna. My wife and I cooked it here in the States but we use a bit of ginger, onions, kamias sinigang mix, frozen kamias, and a bit of the pork fat. Boil first then simmer for a few hours. Yum!

    Taste better the next day and fry a bit or mix with a bit of gata and sili.


    Apr 15, 2014 | 10:30 pm

  5. dianne says:

    My boyfriend is from Bohol and looooooves the fried sinaing na tulingan so much! This and a couple of tomatoes were the only stuff we brought along when we swam at the Dumaluan Beach Resort on Panglao several years ago. Hung the bag containing the precious baon somewhere on the coconut tree on the beach. Washed our hands with seawater before and after eating. No utensils, just our bare hands. After swimming the entire day, no need for a change of clothes because our swim attire will dry up during the 1-hour motorcycle ride back to Tagbilaran. That is the life!!!

    Apr 15, 2014 | 10:49 pm

  6. Botchok says:

    I like it better with atchara. As i remember when you buy a sinaing na tulingan from the vendors in the town market, they will also offer you a small bottle of their home made atchara.

    Apr 16, 2014 | 2:07 am

  7. bam says:

    nakakagutom to talaga

    Apr 16, 2014 | 4:03 am

  8. epicron says:

    Nice grill! I remember that when my father taught me how to prepare this he recalls that when he was young his family made sinaing in large batches then cooked low and slow. It ended up being soft like canned fish, all head and bones edible, something akin to simmered mackerel in miso. It was one the simplest things I learned to cook yet the combination of flavors from the fishy tulingan, gata and dried kamias were epic. Masyado lang takaw uling sa pagluto!

    Apr 16, 2014 | 4:27 am

  9. millet says:

    nice! i loved getting that at the weekend market when it was still beside the lung center. the vendor would always give a small plastic pouch of the “sauce” with which to douse the fish. i love this, and the best ones i’ve tasted have really soft bones, true, but i have some concerns about the toxin in the tulingan tail, though…did you have to pull out the toxic sac from the tail part, MM?

    Apr 16, 2014 | 7:04 am

  10. Risa says:

    I. want. to. cook. this. I think it would work nicely to cook it partway over fire and then a spell in the pressure cooker to soften the bones.

    MM – did you have to take the innards out?

    Sinaing with sinangag!

    Apr 16, 2014 | 7:58 am

  11. ConnieC says:

    Millet: The Batangas tulingan vendors are still around at the Centris Market along EDSA near Landmark North where most of the Lung Center vendors have relocated.

    Pinangat conjures image of childhood days when after school in the afternoons my merienda would be leftover ( bahaw) rice from lunch with the tah-dig ( tutong) softened by cold barako coffee boiled briki style from breakfast, and slow cooked pinangat na tulingan with bones crumbling in my fingers with each “sakol”, my ultimate comfort food in those days.

    Apr 16, 2014 | 11:01 am

  12. David B says:

    now my stomach is grumbling :)

    Apr 16, 2014 | 11:18 am

  13. Marichu says:

    MM, what is back fat in Tagalog?

    Apr 16, 2014 | 12:56 pm

  14. Lyn says:

    my fave. Deep fried!

    Apr 16, 2014 | 3:03 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Marichu, I am not sure what fatback or back fat is in Filipino, but most butchers seem to know what it is when you say the english terms. I suppose “batok” or the fat from the neck and back might make sense…

    Apr 16, 2014 | 6:44 pm

  16. maricel says:

    Back fat in tagalog is tampalin. We saute it until the oil is rendered, then add garlic. Toast it till the garlic is golden brown, then drizzle it over hot lugaw or palabok :)

    Apr 16, 2014 | 8:31 pm

  17. Marketman says:

    maricel, thanks for that, but actually, fatback or back fat is not tampalin or tampalen. I have a post on tampalen from several years back. Back fat or fatback with skin is what’s made into chicharon, while tampalen or leaf fat is what’s made into the best quality lard. You are correct that some folks put rendered leaf fat or tampalen onto palabok, etc., but it’s not made from back fat…

    Apr 16, 2014 | 9:03 pm

  18. Footloose says:

    Taba ng batok is how we call it down our way. Seems to apply to the thick unrenderable fat covering from the nape to the saddle of a pig.

    Apr 16, 2014 | 10:00 pm

  19. dianne says:

    my boyfriend tells me it’s called “inun-unan” in Bohol and they use sukang tuba to cook this :)

    Apr 16, 2014 | 11:29 pm

  20. cherrie says:

    Our lolas from Taal, Batangas would make sinaing na tulingan in a pot over burning wood for twentyfour hours. The fish would be so soft and tender to the bones. Great with rice and Batangas chocolate. They would always say the fish was poisonous if not properly prepared (wonder why).

    Apr 17, 2014 | 6:52 pm

  21. Mrs. Kolca says:

    Oh my! This is my favorite food from Batangas. Back in 2003, a dear friend and I visited her sister in Talisay and this is what they served us for lunch together with ginataang langka. It was really unforgettable. Super sarap!

    Apr 17, 2014 | 9:24 pm

  22. kurzhaar says:

    Are these small mackerel? Are the fish gutted? This seems rather similar to a Scottish dish made with fresh herring that’s braised in a water/vinegar mixture with herbs.

    Apr 18, 2014 | 5:00 am

  23. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, yes the are small mackerel, and the gills and guts pulled out of the mouth, but stomachs not slit open in the version above. Would you know what the name of the Scottish dish is? Just curious.

    Apr 18, 2014 | 7:24 am

  24. romwell says:

    try putting a hint of kikkoman also change the back fat with liempo or adobo cuts. also add laurel leaves and serrano peppers. this is awesome on top of piping freshly cooked rice.

    Apr 18, 2014 | 9:41 am

  25. kurzhaar says:

    I had to look it up as I couldn’t remember the details, but it is the recipe for “potted herring” in F. Marion McNeill’s The Scots Kitchen. More spices than herbs (and rather like braised rollmops), but here it is, together with the literary quote which accompanies most of the recipes in this book, which I recommend as an entertaining and educational read.

    Potted Herring

    Though the casual Govan herring
    Warns us by a sense unerring
    That the dead need but interring–
    Pisces Benedicte.

    Taken fresh and all unspotted,
    Rolled in vinegar and potted,
    O, it tickles the parotid–
    Pisces Benedicte.
    –Parvus (in Glasgow University Magazine): Sistette to Fish

    Fresh herring, salt, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, blade of mace, onion (optional), white vinegar, water.

    Skin, cleanse, and head-and-tail six plump medium-sized herring; then split lengthwise. Remove the backbone by lifting one end and prising it away from the flesh with a knife. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and mill black pepper over them. Roll tightly, skin outside, beginning at the tail, and pack into a pie dish or shallow casserole. Distribute the spices–six peppercorns, two cloves, a small bay leaf, and a blade of mace–among the fillets. (Some housewives add a small shredded onion.) Pour over just enough vinegar and water–half and half, or rather more vinegar than water–to cover the fish. Cover the dish with a buttered paper or lid, and bake in a slow oven for fully an hour1, then uncover and bake for twenty minutes longer. Serve cold with potato salad.

    The spices used vary considerably. Some add only a bay leaf. Perhaps the best potted herring I ever tasted were very fresh Lochfynes, to which nothing but salt and pepper, vinegar and water was added.–F. M. McN.

    1Mrs. McIver (1773) says: Pot herring for four hours in a slow oven.

    Apr 18, 2014 | 10:51 am

  26. kurzhaar says:

    Sorry, I misspelt the author’s name, it is F. Marian McNeill. As I said, “The Scots Kitchen” is a good book, though some (not all) recipes–especially the historic recipes–are often given with slight detail of technique (assuming experience in the kitchen). The historic Scottish connections to France and Spain and the Nordic countries is evident in many recipes. I also recommend McNeill’s “The Scots Cellar”.

    Apr 18, 2014 | 11:59 pm

  27. lorna says:

    we call this dish in san juan, batangas as “pinais na tulingan”. pwede ring sampalok ang substitute sa kamias/dried kamias. you have to pull out the tail of the tulingan because that part is what they say the poisonous part of the fish. since walang tulingan dito sa qatar, i use tuna instead. it’s also yummy

    Apr 19, 2014 | 5:35 am

  28. Footloose says:

    @Kutzhaar, I see what you mean by the Spanish connection, this is exactly the Iberian treatment for sardines except for the filleting and rolling although they do that too with anchovies. I was thinking more along the bulk transport of Seville oranges to Scotland for conversion to marmalade.

    Apr 22, 2014 | 6:54 am


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