13 Mar2014


Sometimes, all I need is a trip to honest-to-goodness provincial market, one abundant with local seafood and/or produce, to get the “juices” flowing again. I used to do this with far more frequency, and that’s the inspiration for the name of blog after all, but in recent years, I have been so busy that market forays have slowed. This one reminded me to get off my bum and see more markets in the years ahead. It was really nice to see that the public market in Bogo, Northern Cebu, seems to have fully recovered since the devastating effects of Typhoon Yolanda just 3 months ago. There was an abundant amount of fish on offer (despite getting there at around 9:30 which I consider late) and the prices were just amazing compared to those we have to endure in Manila.


Some fresh dilis…


…the most amazing and reef fresh alumahan I think they were… and when the vendor said PHP110 a kilo, and agreed to PHP100 a kilo if we purchased 6 kilos, we struck a deal. Just a few days before, in Manila at a weekend market, they were asking PHP250+ for the same type of fish, and they weren’t even as fresh.


Lots of seaweed on offer…


…and I was told this “second-class” isdang bato also called timbungan (Indian goatfish) made for great eating… just grill with tough scales on, brush off the scales and enjoy the nice white fleshy meat. When grilled, the scales naturally seem to raise themselves from the body/meat, making for easy removal. I have never had this fish before (and can’t recall the name even) but if we had access to a grill nearby, I would have cooked it myself!


Barracuda anyone? Needlefish or balo anyone?


Or would you rather have some cuttlefish or octopus?


Or squirming live bakasi or saltwater eels? Lee, you out there? :)


More seaweed, this time a red variety that we were warned would “melt” if we put it on ice and brought it down to the city. I actually bought PHP10 worth and did just that, but forgot to check on the condition of the seaweed in Cebu and boarded a flight for Manila that evening. Duh.


Some of the managers and crew on the trip wanted to stock up on other types of dried fish, so we hit that part of the market. Prices were higher than normal, but still better than Cebu City or Manila, for sure.


The variety was impressive, and frankly, I don’t think I have tried even half of the types of daing on offer.


But the illusive quest was for these daing na bilong-bilong, a fish we normally eat inun-unan or paksiw style, and thankfully one vendor had about a kilo of them left. Our office crew swear they are utterly delicious. Will have to buy some for myself the next time around. If you’ve been stuck in a rut, glued to your chair or city-bound, consider exploring a local market sometime soon… See what’s in season, buy what’s locally produced or enjoyed, and save some money to boot.



  1. Dragon says:

    Tell me about it…am in between projects/contracts right now so am starting to do my market rounds for inspiration. Can’t splurge as I am in between jobs. And when I have money, I have no real time to spend in the kitchen. Hay naku!

    Mar 13, 2014 | 5:49 pm


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  3. Lee says:

    That’s a lot of eels. I have never seen daing na bilong bilong before, that must be good eats.

    Mar 13, 2014 | 6:17 pm

  4. Cecille B. says:

    I love going to market. It is the first place I go to when in a new place. It is a barometer of how people in that place live and eat.

    Mar 13, 2014 | 6:46 pm

  5. millet says:

    have never had bulad na bilong-bilong before…i can imagine how little meat is left after it’s dried.

    Mar 13, 2014 | 8:35 pm

  6. pixienixie says:

    To me the seaweed in the 9th pic looks like reheated pancit bihon – with the veggies already indistinguishable and the pancit darker in color because of additional soy sauce. Hehe.
    Haven’t tried eel and fresh dilis before. I’m not really a fish person. :(

    Mar 13, 2014 | 10:20 pm

  7. marilen says:

    Cornucopia of ‘namit’ !! Always a delight to explore markets – anywhere have a chance to do so. Love the book “Market” issued by Centro Escolar Unversity. Thanks, MM, as always the photos and the text are a joy to read.

    Mar 13, 2014 | 11:28 pm

  8. Natie says:

    markets are a Must go……I like the smell and the noise.. Just bought kilos of dried fish to ‘bring home’

    Mar 14, 2014 | 12:03 am

  9. Joan says:

    Lee and Millet, the bilong-bilong na buwad are indeed difficult to find, but delicious and still meaty despite the drying and frying.

    Mar 14, 2014 | 8:57 am

  10. amy says:

    I would love to try that red reef fish, it looks so meaty! And the barracuda too! I bet they taste really good. I saw Anthony Bourdain eating and enjoying a grilled barracuda in an old No Reservations episode and I’d been intrigued ever since. And some chefs now are serving “garbage fish” (fish that fishermen throw back in the water, give away or sell for almost nothing because they are not commercially known or profitable) in their restaurants so people would know that those are good eats when prepared the right way. I watched an episode of Bizarre Foods America where a chef and restaurant owner would go to the fish market to buy loads of garbage fish, in turn “rescuing” the fish from ending in a garbage bin. Noble and smart!

    Mar 14, 2014 | 11:48 am

  11. Fards says:

    Can hardly wait to eat those fresh fish. That colorful fish under the red fish is delish when grilled. I remember my father called that” isda sa bato”. Yes, you are right, MM, the scales do curl up when grilled so it is easy to eat the flesh. Yum! Will try to go to Bogo if I get the chance. Their daings are just so good.

    Mar 15, 2014 | 6:27 am

  12. Margaux says:

    Ang laki ng dilis! Love this post. You are so hard core Marketman! :)

    Mar 15, 2014 | 9:19 am

  13. millet says:

    dilis that big are excellent as kinilaw, just pull off the heads, entrails and spine. on a trip to bantayan islands a few weeks before the earthquake, we bought some tiny sea catfish (hitong dagat) at the market. the hotel staff cooked it paksiw-style, using kamias as souring agent instead of vinegar. it was so good it was definitely the star dish that night, and i have tried to replicate it with other fish here but have not even come close.

    Mar 15, 2014 | 8:23 pm

  14. Virgie says:

    Hello, I hope you don’t mind my seeking your advice…but would you know if mackarel fish (the type used in Japanese recipes) is available locally? I am writing from abroad and given that mackarel is beng promoted here as a healthy source of omega 3 (as good as salmon), I thought it would be nice if I could avail of that fish too when I come home. Thank you!

    Mar 16, 2014 | 12:09 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Virgie, the saba or mackerel served in Japanese restaurants appears to be a more Northern cousin of mackerels abundant in the Philippines. See a Chowhoud discussion board here. We do have several types of small mackerels, that are good roasted or grilled available in local markets, but perhaps not exactly the same quality/flavor as the ones served in Japanese restaurants.

    Mar 16, 2014 | 8:39 am

  16. odessa says:

    Oh, how I miss the markets in our province (Capiz) MM seeing those photos above. more varieties of fresh seafood and cheaper compared to the markets here in Manila. I also miss dried “Palad’ and ” laba-laba” (seaweed)….

    Mar 19, 2014 | 8:19 am

  17. Nadia says:

    Hi MM. Just a slight correction on your fish ID…the ones you called barracudas (family Sphyraenidae) are actually not barracudas but rather needlefish from the family Belonidae. Locally they are commonly referred to as “balo”.

    Mar 19, 2014 | 9:21 pm

  18. Marketman says:

    Nadia, thank you SO MUCH for that correction. I obviously mistakenly assumed they were barracudas. Until you commented, I didn’t take a closer look, and yes, the bodies from this old post and others on the net make the mistake clear. Will edit post. Thanks.

    Mar 19, 2014 | 10:53 pm


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