Fishy Photos from Seaside Mart/Market, Baclaran…

The Seaside Market near the Baclaran church in Pasay and Farmer’s Market in Cubao are the two main places where I source fresh seafood in Metro-Manila. It’s a bit of a shame, really, that fish isn’t, in my opinion, adequately showcased and more readily available in local food stores, but maybe that’s a function of cost and people’s food choices more than anything else. I am a market addict, so a trip to the fish market gets my creative juices flowing thinking I can cook this or that, and obviously wanting to buy more than I should…

Seaside is quite small, with say only 40 vendors at its fullest, but the selection is quite nice. Prices are a bit steep, but worth it. Live spiny lobsters run PHP1,200-1,300 a kilo (compared to the cheapest I have seen at PHP350 in Coron) and it’s downhill from there.

Cross crabs, blue crabs and lots of mud crabs are also available…

Maya-maya or snappers were plentiful the day I visited.

Squid on ice. Did you know that giant squid can aggressively attack scuba divers? Trivia. But true. I saw it on TV. :)

For shrimp/prawns, there are nearly a dozen sizes and types, and it is this breadth of choice that I really like.

Just make sure you check for freshness, the slighly less fresh ones, a little mushy are what they try to give you if you bargain the price down…

The vendors are an amiable bunch. I don’t go often enough to have sukis, but my crew that do go several times a month have their favorites. Check out this giant lapu-lapu, face curiously stuck in a clear plastic bag. I wouldn’t know how to cook such a large whole fish properly, but it was a sight to behold.

Another vendors tuna sashimi, already trimmed.

Fish, and scallops in the background.

Beautiful lapu-lapu, grouper or coral trout.

And a pissed off, tied down cross crab. I do feel a bit of guilt eating animal protein. But let’s get this straight, they wouldn’t think twice about eating me if I fell off a boat or sank on a ferry outside Manila Bay. I would definitely be fish food.

Seaside Mart/Market
Near the Baclaran Church
If coming from the Coastal highway towards EDSA, you have passed the market if you hit the Baclaran Church.

Earlier post on Seaside, from 2005, here.

Note: Some photos in this post may have been taken by AT. Thanks.


24 Responses

  1. I find that cooking suggestions from the fishmonger himself gives me an idea on what to cook with what I buy. The uncle I get my seafood from always offer suggestions such as: this good for steaming only, this for grilling and he even tells me what Not to buy!

  2. That crab photo reminded me of my mom. My mom LOVED crabs, and she had a suki in Seaside who supplied her big live crabs. One time, my mom brought home live crabs and one of the crabs managed to escape! I think my mom had a close call with one of its claws.

  3. I just had my fill of the fish at a nearby supermarket and bought a kilo of salmon cuts and a big crab. I thought their array of fish was wonderful, but the fish in Farmers’ and Baclaran, whew! It blows me away. I miss talakitok so much!

  4. Growing up we used to shop here often ( if its the same market along Roxas blvd. ) , as my dad was a big fan of seafood. My favorite from among them is the “alupihang dagat” ( that’s what we called it in Paranaque), as they’re very tasty steamed when matched with suka and bawang. I don’t see them in any of your photos above, though.

    Thanks for bringing back the memories of the good old days.

  5. i’m excited to move out of my parent’s house and cook for myself! Awesome part is i’ll be moving near cubao so i can check out farmer’s market

  6. Love this post! Nice pictures and some funny remarks you have here, MM! Would the quality of the seafood in this market be better than Farmer’s Market? Would also like to ask if you would know why my tuna sashimi (if bought from the market, usually Farmer’s) always taste “bloody”? This has been consistent even if I buy from different suppliers. I usually get the belly part. Due to this, I prefer to eat my tuna sashimi in a restaurant instead of attempting to make my own.

  7. “And a pissed off, tied down cross crab. I do feel a bit of guilt eating animal protein. But let’s get this straight, they wouldn’t think twice about eating me if I fell off a boat or sank on a ferry outside Manila Bay. I would definitely be fish food.”

    …you got that right! that said – all those seafood looks soooo good! i’m jealous :)

  8. I often remind my folks about the irony of us being an archipelagic nation and yet we don’t know how to cook fish properly. Most of the time, it is overcooked that the dish misses the point of the seafood’s sublime qualities. It’s a sad observation but I guess it’s true. Either the fried/grilled fish ends up as tough as cardboard, or the soup/stewed fish is too overdone that its flesh disintegrates in the liquid base.

    One thing I learned from my fish scientist friends: avoid those spectacular-looking, mega-sized fishes. The larger they get, the more toxins they have accumulated in their tissues. Since you are the last link on the food chain, well, those toxins pretty much end up inside you because there is no other organism after you to metabolize those toxins. Kinda gross, but I think it makes sense. On the practical side, there aren’t much fish-pans large enough to accommodate humongous specimens. You end up cutting them up anyway. I am guilty of sometimes buying 3-kg maya-mayas just because they wowed me at the market stall, only to realize when I get home that the whole fish is bigger than my entire stove top.

    Lastly, the reason why seafood is expensive in general is allegedly because it is the last human food source that remains to be hunted (like swordfish, for example). Everything else is farmed, cultured, cloned…. economies of scale, ba? :-)

  9. A last bit of trivia: the design inspiration for the alien character in Arnold Schwarzenneger’s movie “Predator” was a crab. I guess Arnold isn’t much of a crab-fancier because upon looking at the face of his nemesis, all he could utter was: “You ugly!”

  10. Do they still have the “paluto” type of restaurants at the 2nd floor of the Market? We live in Parañaque but we don’t buy seafoods at the Seaside Market. Too far from us. Considering also the traffic in the area.

    My mom and my wife loves to buy fresh seafoods from the “original dampa” at San Dionisio, BF Homes Market and from “Lando” of La Huerta Public Market also in Parañaque.

  11. out of curiosity…..would you know where the fish comes from? are they from around our islands? the idea of having fishermen bring in this sort of amazing catch is, in my eyes, quite ideal, if not idealistic. but do our fishermen really bring this in or are they brought in by trawlers? sorry, i know its not necessarily food related and i do love fish and shellfish… i guess i’m just curious enough to want to know the provenance of what i eat and perhaps the true state of our fishing industries- as from this market- it looks pretty good!

  12. My mom swings by that market when she gets the chance because of the freshness of the fishes there. Not only do giant squid attack divers but they also attack and cannibalize each other in a feeding frenzy. I think that geography plays a factor in what foodgroup you eat more because your location would dictate what would be the freshest ingredient for you. If you live near the sea then fish would be fresh, while those in the highlands or landlocked provinces would eat veggies and meat more. Us folks in the metro would be a special case because although we live beside Manila Bay, I don’t think fish from there would be appetizing (too much garbage that maybe there aren’t any fish there in the first place).

  13. amazing produce available there. i was wondering if the quality of the tuna sahimi there would be comparable to that of tsukiji considering some of the tuna we have here are being sent there. baclaran seaside is really a good place and gives good memories. :)

  14. rj: what I learned from my fish scientist friends is that our archipelago is a rich fisheries source. That is the reason why many of our Asian neighbors send fishing fleets to poach in our waters. For example, the famous danggit of Cebu is the same fish known as samaral in the north. Its life cycle begins in Currimao (Ilocos Norte, I think), then they migrate to the Spratly Islands to mature before proceeding to the Visayas as adults. Their migration cycle also works vice-versa. Our country is also on the migration path of oceanic yellowfin tuna and other species of mackerel. Speaking of the Spratlys (officially, the Kalayaan Islands), its value lies not only in its vast mineral reserves but in its role as an important fish nursery for the SEAsian region. ;-)

  15. i remember this baclaran market way back 70’s. they got their items from the bancas across the road where the mabuhay tower is. beside that market are lechonan, laman loobs. now they got it from the plane from visayas. mga artista ang namimili dyan. gloria romero is one and others more. the black sand of manila bay……..

  16. mel, these days I think most of the fish is “imported” from other islands and sources. Didi, I find 11am is a good time, counterintuitive as I normally hit the markets early, but I understand that many airfreight deliveries arrive late morning from points in the South and elsewhere… typgerius, while I suspect many of the tuna here come from the same waters and sources as the ones that are flown up to Japan, I also think the finest quality specimens are exported and these are the second picks… rj, the tuna is from General Santos and Davao, caught several hours south of there… the other fish are from Bicol, Palawan, Capiz, etc. Shellfish from capiz, luzon, etc. Jeff, yes, they still have paluto places in the market… Papa Ethan, thanks… Pam, not sure what you mean by bloody, other than the huge dark veins in the fish, that HAVE to be removed before serving… la emperor, alupihang dagat is rarely seen in Manila markets these days, but I have featured them from provincial market forays… rj, I think a lot of these large fish are caught by trawlers… I once spoke with J. Soho after they did an expose on work conditions, etc. on trawlers and ever since then haven’t purchased swordfish, and other large species after she explained how long they had been on ice, etc…

  17. Ack. The veins are the culprit. Thanks, MM! Will attempt to have sashimi at home again.

    Thanks to everyone’s comments. I’m learning a lot from this post and its comments!

  18. Market man, you should check out the wet market in shanghai. For Chinese, fresh means alive. So the markets here supply live fish, shrimps, frogs, turtles, eels, and even chicken. Then they kill and gut before you. I can’t bear pick a live chicken coz I feel like a Makapili.

  19. Love reading these comments, also I’m impressed by the variety of seafood. Not even the Pike Place Market fishmongers in Seattle, WA have such a variety, truly awesome! now I know what to look for when I move there. Anybody know of any good markets in Mactan Island?



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