Fried Dried Danggit / Rabbitfish / Spinefoot

Crispy, chewy, salty and pungent, dang1fried danggit is on my top ten list of breakfast foods. I know I am supposed to be eating healthier these days after the fat and salt overdose of the recent holidays but I simply couldn’t resist a freshly fried pile of dried danggit that the cook made this morning. Add some hot rice, a perfectly fried organic egg, some of my long soaking chilli vinegar and I easily consumed ten small fried fish before I succumbed to the “you are too full to burp” signal from my stomach. Yum and double yum. And, for some strange reason, you also burp “eau de danggit” like you do longganisa, and it has no garlic, so go figure…

Danggit is known as a rabbitfish or spinefoot in English and is part of the siganus family. Other local names include Samaral, dang3Taragbago, Kitang, Tabago, etc. according to Genevieve Broad in her book Fishes of the Philippines. It is abundant in Philippine waters and is caught, split open, dried in the sun with salt and transported to markets to be sold to cityfolk like me. I bought freshly dried danggit at the Bohol Public Market last week for PHP430 a kilo. That sounds like a lot but less than 80 grams pre-fried weight is on the plate in these photos and that cost less than PHP35 and easily served three people. It must be a childhood thing, but I can actually put up with the goshawful smell that danggit gives off when fried though I wouldn’t do it in closed quarters or a foreign kitchen. I was once visiting friends at a serviced apartment/hotel in New York City and we decided to fry up some danggit in the kitchenette and not only did the smell get into the ventilation system, the fire alarm also went off! Yikes. How embarrassing.

By the way, if you are tempted to buy dried danggit at the Cebu airport dang4or other touristy location, what is often represented at ¼ kilo is in fact about 200 grams and at the exhorbitant prices they charge, it effectively costs upwards of PHP800 a kilo! Just in case you wanted to know how much you were getting fleeced! For me, the perfect dried danggit just came off the drying screens a few days before. It is dry but yet still moist, there is some give to the “meaty” part of the fish. It should be small enough so you can eat everything, including the brains. When fried, it should be crispy but again have some chewiness and must reach your plate hot, with vinegar at the ready to dip and soak. There is nothing worse than makunat danggit for me.


20 Responses

  1. Hi MM. Have you ever tasted Fresh Danggit that has been marinated like our usual Daing na Bangus? I used to buy from my daughter’s friend. It is more tasty than the dried ones in my book. It has more meat and when deep fried right you eat the whole fish including the bones and head….taste like chicharon. Of course ypu dip in suka with labuyo, eat with gralic rice and tomatoes with onions and salted eggs. reminds me of breakfast at the beach house. Uhm yummy and tasty talaga.

  2. fish prices are soaring up to the heavens like crazy!

    fresh danggit is really good except for the painful fact that cleaning them is a hellish experience. The spines are so sharp i always get punctured when cleaning them.

  3. Try fried danggit with the vinegar I just discovered on a trip to Mindanao a few weeks ago. It’s called “pinakurat” which literally means “panggulat” in Tagalog (a “startler”, in English?). It’s made from tuba with chilies and other spices. Label says it’s made in Iligan. Best with lechon bisaya or any fried foods. I only got two “lapad” bottles on a trip to CDO, and am now regretting it. Really good!

    Perhaps someone knows where we can get it in Metro Manila?

  4. We buy our danggit from this lady in Dumaguete and at times she would have the real teenie ones about 1 1/2 in. It’s good with champorado as well.

  5. Pinakurat! Choy, did you know that they don’t really allow you to carry that on the plane? I had bought a few bottles already at the CDO airport en route to Manila (ever since I tried it I’ve been crazy about it) and when the seller found out I was taking it with me she told me she would give my money back since she said I wouldn’t be able to take it with me.
    I put it in my bag anyway and when it went through the x-ray the guards were saying, ‘Pinakurat. May pinakurat.’ I pretended not to hear them, picked up my bag, and nonchalantly walked to the check-in counter. Heehee. My husband refused to walk beside me throughout that whole smuggling episode. Thank goodness it’s available in Market!Market! Now I don’t have to feel so guilty.
    It’s perfect with danggit. And with balut. Oh yum.

  6. i lived in cebu for about 9 months so many years back and danggit from the cebu is what i really miss. danggit here is too salty and strangely makunat. i like danggit fried really crispy and eat it with ginisang munggo any time of the day. what i don’t like is the danggit burp and breath after, and the spiny bones, sometimes they stick to my inner cheeks. ow!

    how funny cooking danggit in new york. my dad cooked danggit for us when we were in rome in our hotel kitchenette, dear lord, our room reeked of danggit!! unfortunately, my sofa bad was in the kitchen area as well! i had to sleep with the danggit smell.

  7. am salivating MM
    today I cooked some beans while eating beans and rice I told the Swiss Cheese something is missing.. fried dried fish
    he said oh no plss

    But my friend will arrive in few days cant wait for my share
    Mingaw ta cebu!!!

  8. OMG! my ultimate comfort food with garlic rice, sukang paombong and a fried egg! daing…danggit…never mind the smell, you have to be Pinoy to truly appreciate it. my sister broils her danggit in a turbo oven to avoid the oils and it’s as crispy as the fried ones.

  9. Marga, fresh danggit sounds terrific though I haven’t tried it myself… lee, I always wondered what kinds of folks removed the tinik of the danggit for daing and the folks that take the meat out of crabs as well… Hchie, I like the small ones too, on the bigger ones I don’t eat some of the brains/head… Choi, Kai and Mia that pinakurat sounds frightfully good… sha danggit is forever burned into a cebuano’s memory banks… mita, fry it…fry it!!! heehee

  10. ok, what is it about champurado and dried fish? i love it! i can’t get a single foreigner friend of mine to try it though.

  11. my mom likes fried lapulapu (or something like that) apparently fishes are being classified from first to godknowswhat… would any of you know about this?

  12. Kai, thanks for the tip. I’m off to Market!Market!
    Mia, the reason why I only got two lapads of Pinakurat was precisely because I didn’t think it would pass inspection at the airport. I guess I caught the guards at their sleepiest or was just darn luicky.MM, I swear on the pinakurat…btw, finally tried Galileo Enoteca for the 1st time a week ago. It was all you described it to be. And the owner Gaetano was especially accomodating, even opening a bottle of wine for us when we were on our way out.Could it have been becasue I dropped the name of the website “Market Manila” or was I just plain lucky again?:o)

  13. Yup, frying danggit in the condo is bad. No matter how good the oven hood sucks up air or how many candles you light up, you always end up with a terrible smell. It’s ok in Manila because we all have a dirty kitchen outside the actual kitchen. What I did here in LA is to buy a portable stove and do my frying on the balcony. All my fish frying are done outside now. I know the smell carry to our neighbor above us but they are Asians too! I have to have my danggit!

  14. maybe my new year’s resolution should be not to come here anymore. always i come away salivating for something. if i had danggit in my freezer right now you can bet i’ll be having it for dinner! waaah…. rarely is danggit available at the asian stores, i’m always at the mercy of traveling relatives…

  15. MM, the folks who picks the meat out of crabs are patient,fun-loving,caring,totally serious foodies and loves just the best of everything. We caught 38 blueswimmer crabs from the jetty 2 nights ago ,hehe. Made some crab cakes and crab panna cotta, chili crabs and invited some friends over and we had a ball! I love fried and crispy danggit,too dipped in suka and chilli and using my kamay and I’m in heaven!

  16. marga, i know what you mean…that danggit that’s marinated like daing na bangus comes from palawan and is called “lamayo”…..vinegar, black pepper,salt and a ton of garlic..yum,yum…it’s soaked in the mixture, and is therefore more meaty but fries crisp just the same! the interesting thing is, whoever makes them gets rid of all the nasty fin spines, but loosens the backbone and leaves it attached because it fries to chicharon crispness…bring in the cold beer!

  17. millet and marga, just got some lamayo from Blue Kitchen…will try it for breakfast tomorrow and let you all know how it tastes…

  18. Tiangge or retail marketing at Greenhills, Mandaluyong does not run out of these stuff. From select sun-dried danggit (form Bantayan, Cebu) to Sinamak (chili/spice soaked pure coconut vinegar). Take it from nkn marketing!
    See you there! :)



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