Marketman’s “Fancy” Rellenong Bangus… :) Part IV


Grapes, ham, chestnuts, shrimp and herbs… Nope, not your typical pinoy rellenong bangus recipe. But bear with me for a few minutes longer.


I thought the seedless grapes, sliced in half, would bring a hint of freshness, sweetness and acidity to the stuffing. And moisture to keep the stuffing from drying out. Leftover ham in a fine dice to bring that porky, salty goodness that is almost always a good thing. Chestnuts, peeled and chopped for an unconventional hit of starch, flavorful and slightly sweet, a nice stand-in for potatoes, I guessed. And frankly, because I spied them in the fridge, leftovers from a dinner three nights before and I am loath to waste food. Peeled and deveined shrimp because we had it fresh as can be from the markets that morning. Herbs, for color and flavor. No clue if this would work at all or end in disaster…


Here is a step by step guide to Marketman’s first rellenong bangus, ever… :) First, a big glug of excellent unfiltered olive oil. Any good olive oil, would do. :)


Add some seedless grapes into the pan, and saute for a few seconds to just wilt the grapes and slightly reduce moisture content.


Next, add in the diced ham…


…then peeled chestnuts…


…saute for a few seconds until fragrant and coated in oil.


Next add the peeled and deveined shrimp…


…season generously with salt and pepper. Generously. :)


Add the previously steamed, de-boned and flaked bangus meat ans toss lightly to mix. Taste and season again if necessary.


Set aside to cool. I added some chopped Italian parsley and you could add basil or any other herbs you like.


Add in an egg or two to moisten the filling further. Beat it first. Not like I did in the photo. :)


Now watch MM struggle with getting the wonderful stuffing into the fish. It sounds simple enough, but with big hands and the bangus head flopping about, this was trickier than I expected. Patience is useful sometimes.


I tried stuffing with a spoon, then my fingers, and probably most of my fist.


Can you see and feel the quiet frustration… :)


Then horror of all horrors, I had a puncture! A frigging tear in the skin. A grape popped out. Yikes, the fish had been seriously violated (as though getting its insides totally cleaned out wasn’t violation enough) I probably didn’t cut the skin with my stuffing, it was likely cut at the market, but who cares who is to blame, it happened on my first rellenong bangus! :( But not to worry, this is a forgiving dish… just use a strip of scotch tape and go on as usual. I jest of course, just checking if you are reading post carefully, I DID NOT use scotch tape!


I asked “M” to step in and salvage the stuffing. She finished my first rellenong bangus. :) I know, I wimped out. That’s okay, I understand how it’s SUPPOSED to be done.


In another departure from the deep fried style of most rellenong bangus, I wrapped this one in foil, drizzled the skin with good olive oil and seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper and sealed this up and baked it in a hot oven for some 25-30 minutes.


The skin didn’t crisp up — I hadn’t expected it to, with all that steaming action in the foil, but it turned out looking marvelous anyway. It smelled good, it looked good… now the only question was did it TASTE good?


It tasted WONDERFUL! A real slam dunk. Not a classic take on rellenong bangus, but a flavorful, delicious stuffed fish, with bursts of flavor from the grapes and ham, textural shifts from the chestnuts and shrimp and the nice flakey fish. It was moist and really quite good. But it wasn’t something you would eat with rice… maybe better with roasted baby potatoes, or some good bread. The crew, who are mostly traditionalists, liked this version as well. They were really quite surprised by it. I suspect the filling would have tasted good on its own, without even bothering to stuff the fish, but overall this was a really slam dunk experiment. I highly recommend it. Play with your food once in a while, you just might be surprised what you end up with! :)

Note: Some photos on this post taken by Mrs. MM.

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26 Responses

  1. What a ‘sosi’ way to do a rellenong bangus! Pero as you said, play with your food and then choose what’s results came out best. Though really very non-traditional relleno, this looks so rich and good! Lesson learned is that one does not need to conform all the time! Experimentation would often times bring unexpectedly good results.

  2. Looks great, bet tastes great. The classic version is overrated in my view, or is no longer made as it should be. Just one suggestion, before you wrap it in the foil, throw in some distilled stuff if you have it, half a cup of cognac, armagnac or the like. I recently did this to a chicken, and it was no longer a pot roast chicken but something out of this world. And the pain of childbirth does bring something new into the world! Good on you MM!

  3. Dish looks fantastic. Perhaps in the last few minutes of baking when placed under the broiler may result in crisped skin.

    Btw, I am currently in the Philippines on business. I have been rallying my cousins based in iloilo to fly out to Cebu with me for some r and r and Zubuchon. I cannot wait!

  4. Belated Happy New Year to everyone! Sorry MM, but I just couldn’t resist:

    you wrote, “…but with big hands and the head flopping about,…”.

    I take it that the head being referred to belonged to the bangus? :-)

  5. Wow, that’s a good enough stuffing for a turkey. I laughed so hard reading your difficulty with the relleno and you did make a mess MM!

  6. Lol, too funny. Glug of olive oil, I like that…and the scotch tape! I’m wondering how M fixed the hole. I would like to taste this version..Not a fan of the traditional recipe. Tks MM.

  7. I’m thinking perhaps using a piping bag( or simply cut one corner off a strong plastic bag ) without any nozzle may help in the stuffing. Maybe ‘standing’ the fish in a tall slim glass or vase might also help.

  8. Had such a laugh when it came to your stuffing the uncooperative bangus skin, MM! Neverthemind, it must have been delicious!!

  9. That was a good idea to cover the rapture…scotch tape =) how come I didnt think of it before.he he he…great recipe for filling something to work on for this coming Chinese New Year. Keep those great ideas coming!

  10. “But not to worry, this is a forgiving dish… just use a strip of scotch tape and go on as usual. I jest of course, just checking if you are reading post carefully, I DID NOT use scotch tape!”

    did you use duct tape? ;p

    I see premade Rellenong Bangus that are frozen in local Asian stores here in Texas. I haven’t been that brave to try them – I wonder of the quality.

    Thank you for sharing this – I may get brave enough to try it.

  11. Nice try on the relleno MM :) I still prefer the traditional way of cooking it – deep frying the fish until it becomes golden brown. We mix the bangus meat with some ground pork plus add some kinchay.

  12. allen, I understand what you are saying, and I accept that during my lifetime at least, “traditional way of cooking it” is indeed frying, if you are to count the percentage of folks who do it that way. But if we go back decades or centuries even, I suspect the method of stuffing and cooking, was introduced by the Spaniards/Mexicans, perhaps by way of the galleon routes. Fish relleno recipes are apparently quite common on the Mexican coast, and they stuff their fish with other seafood, aromatics, etc. However, they tend to bake the fish, probably in clay ovens. Since Filipinos probably did not have ready access to ovens, if they prepared this dish hundreds of years ago, it was likely grilled, or grilled wrapped in banana leaves, a sort of roasted/baked equivalent. Further, as I like to speculate often, Filipinos probably did NOT fry that much up until the time metal kawalis became quite economical and available to the vast majority of the population. It’s almost impossible to fry in a palayok or other clay cooking vessel… So while I do agree that frying is the most commonly known way to prep this dish in the Philippines, I suspect it has evolved over the decades and centuries. Rellenong talong is indeed fried, but curiously eggplants first roasted. Rellenong crab is fried typically, but as I tried in one post many years ago, delicious over a grill as well. Rellenong green bell peppers is best baked, in my opinion. So its a very interesting thing to think about… this move in Philippine cuisine to fry just about everything… it’s probably a phenomenon of less than 100-130 years old. :)

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