Salted & Dried Fish / Tuyo


Continuing to the extreme on the theme of salt and fish, first a relatively mild concoction of anchovy fry with some salt that was left to intentionally partially ferment/decay in guinamos, post here, and now, fish that was sun dried and literally buried in salt in the form of tuyo. With quite an abundance of fish in the Northern Cebu waters around Bantayan, Malapascua and Bogo, there was also an abundance of dried fish, presumably preserved to be enjoyed at a later time, or exported to other parts of the country, or consumed when there was less access to fresh fish or other foods. Salt is considered a brilliant preservative because it appears to be the enemy of many types of bacteria that just so want to attack recently deceased animals or organic materials… the salt draws out moisture from the fish, thereby reducing the ability of bacteria to thrive. It is absolutely the same concept that is applied to many types of hams… have you ever wondered how a salt-cured ham, made from a fresh bloody ham leg simply treated with salt and left hanging in a cool barn for a year or so can taste so good?


Unlike guinamos, which I approached with some trepidation, I have ALWAYS loved tuyo from the earliest memory I have of eating it with vinegar and lots of rice. Oddly, I even like the initial whiff of it when it is frying, though I have to admit the smell is a bit cloying. I like to soak my fried tuyo in chilli vinegar and eat it with rice, fried or scrambled eggs and chopped tomatoes on the side… definitely one of my Top 10 Pinoy comfort meals. So it wasn’t a surprise that I found this crate of freshly delivered tuyo at the Bogo market and was AMAZED by the AMOUNT of salt surrounding the fish. I have always seen the fish when the salt was already brushed off… seeing it in this state was new to me. It was literally packed and buried in lots and lots of salt… The salt not only draws off moisture and heads of bacteria, I think it also intensifies the flavor of the fish. The extreme saltiness requires vinegar to temper its flavor… a trick used often in Filipino dishes… So, if you live outside the Philippines and manage to fry up some tuyo and the neighbors complain, just say with authority “if you can’t imagine eating dried fish, do you think eating a salted dried pig’s leg is any less bizarre?” Hahaha. :)



40 Responses

  1. oh my…i love tuyo! sadly,i can no longer over indulge. yes,mm..frying the salty delicacy is the best way to go. double whammy to the system, but you only live once.

    before flying back to the US this feb, i went crazy buying dried fish. it was after the jaro fiesta and dinagyang, so there was an abundance at kiosks in the malls. i must have bought about $100 worth–dilis, the ones pictured above (tabagak), pusit,fish tapa and tocino, danggit, gumaa, sapsap,etc…the tindera was overjoyed! and so was my husband and friends at the receiving end.

    had to go thru customs with some trepidation, but i usually charm my way thru. still works.

    i have to open all the windows when i fry tuyo, but the aroma still lingers for days. tried all the tricks from lit candles to room deodorizers. any other suggestions??

  2. There could very well be a wide variety of approaches to tuyo processing, from the packed in salt for long-term storage and shipping of the current post to the lightly salted for immediate consumption that are locally made from the day’s catch of most fishing villages of the Philippines. There is a town in Bataan who’s three claims to fame are: it’s the place where Balagtas finally settled (after having been spurned by Celia from Pandacan), the celebrated jurist Cayetano Arellano was born there and the renowned lightly salted tuyo called tuyong Udyong is still being produced there. Btw, just realized most tuyo are actually various varieties of sardines only after reading Rizal’s term for it, sardinas secas.

  3. Apicio, you are reading my mind… up soon is a superb, very lightly salted daing na danggit that I saw made from scratch… really good stuff. natie, I am told roasting some ground coffee beans in a pan on the stove top will help with the aroma. Alternatively, boil some water and clear white vinegar for several minutes to reduce the smells…

  4. Natie…here’s what I do so it doesn’t stink up the whole house (much to the dismay of the neighbors…hahaha!)…I heat up the skillet, then go the backyard,open the door….go back to the kitchen, add the tuyo, cover with a lid and carry the skillet to the backyard…open the lid and let the smell mingle up in the air!…My neighbors are usually at work when I do this!…always works for me…

  5. I really dont know, but I have this experience that most dried fish that comes from the south of Philippines are wicked salty, but up North dried fish are ok. . .

  6. betty q. your tip just made me laugh! I think we are all in the same boat, esp. with white neighbours… smell and all…my hubby and daughter have this aversion to anything cooked with eyes still attached. Frying tuyo or whole fish at home was banned a long time ago. I get my fix from a friend who cooks it every now and then instead.

  7. Kiwipino:…you know why my neighbors put up with me?…they are the recipients of my baked goodies!!! Everytime I get the urge to do some baking like apple pies or ensaymadas, I ALWAYS share my baked goodies!!!

  8. MM,

    We cooked a couple of tuyo for 5 minutes in a covered pan with half cup of coconut vinegar mixed with 2 tbsp red sugar. Put this on top of newly saing rice and we are in heaven!

  9. In terms of dried fish, I prefer danggit. However, since I live in the US I hardly get any dried fish anywhere. So, when a family friend gave me a pack of tuyo as pasalubong I got so excited. The very next morning, I cooked sinangag and fried up the tuyo. The smell of the tuyo frying woke up the white hubby and brought him to tears, saying it was so mabaho, it smelled like dead rat. He begged me to throw away the rest of the tuyo, he didn’t even want it in any part of the house. (I didn’t throw it away, of course, but mailed the tuyo to my brother who was so happy to get it).

  10. Your post got me craving for tuyo… Plus the comments here will be helpful next time I cook up some since I don’t like the smell to linger on the kitchen for days! Now… where to buy the tuyo… since the Filipino store near here closed recently…

  11. How about smearing the tuyo with some oil, put it in a microwavable container, cover and zap for 30 sec. intervals until done (depending on size). It keeps the smell in.

  12. I love tuyo but not I love it when it’s not too ‘tuyo’, i.e. it’s a little ‘basa’ :-) MM: Tuyo I say many, many thanks for the lovely blogs about food!

  13. Good day!Mr. MM we had tuyo rice last night paired with inihaw na pork and some steamed crabs. Yum!

  14. may i asked,ano po b ginagawang tuyo? madalas po kasi besugo ang binibili ko.

  15. I like tuyo from Bataan where my mom in law hails, it just has the right amount of saltiness and they fry it tostado… my mom in turn makes it into tuyo with olive oil, i like tuyo best when served this way. I also love danggit, dried fishbones(only in Cebu, I suppose?)and other kinds of dried fish all served with hot steamed rice and fried egg!

  16. What you have there is what we call budo in Leyte and is quite common. One of our best products apart from tuba, etc. Tatay tells me that they would immediately bury sardines fresh from the sea in lots of salt. One of the many ways of ensuring adequate food supply during the rainy months in storm-prone Leyte. The older the fish stays in the briny mix, the brownier it gets. The saltier, too. Basta, for me, budo is the best!

  17. tuyo with vinegar, sinangag and fresh tomatoes, eaten kamay kainan-style is one of my comfort memories from childhood. this entry makes me want to rush to the nearest asian grocery to buy a pack, with spring just around the corner, maybe i can fry some in the outdoor grill so as not to stink up the house haha.

  18. Natie, i suggest you get a small propane camping stove and use it to fry tuyo outside or in your garage with the garage door open of course ;-) That’s how my wife or i fry ours.

  19. Tuyo in oil is sold commercially in small glass jars in many Oriental/Filipino stores in the U.S. It can be eaten straight from the jar or briefly heated in the microwaved to minimize or avoid the odor from frying. MM, cuyog(kuyog)is a lightly salted fish that I used to buy from the palengke in Lian or Nasugbu, Batangas which is delicious. I even made some myself from scratch (speared the fish myself at night with a fisherman friend), lightly salted and baked in the sun one afternoon on top of the roof and had one of the best dried fish I’ve ever tasted!

  20. Natie — I dilute some vinegar with water in a pot and boil it. That seems to help a bit to neutralize the odor. If it persists, spray your furniture and carpet with Febreeze.

  21. I once cooked tuyo in our garage with the door open (last summer), my neighbor came up to ask if I’m cooking something from the ocean and that it smells “funky”.After that I had a shed(or dirty kitchen) built in our backyard.

  22. We cook our tuyo on the deck either on the burner attached to the grill or an electric fryer. To neutralize the odor inside the house…I put water, cut-up orange fruit with the peelings (you can also use the dried up or rotting oranges), cinnamon stick, & cinnamon powder in a saucepan and let it boil. It works all the time.

  23. thanks for all the tips…i’ll try all of them. i bet the coffee beans would be a good neutralizer. i used to have a deck and a backyard, but have downsized when the ”nest became empty” to a condo. i miss the times when i could fry fish and all the tuyo even in cold weather. ljc, ive used that trick lots of times, too..the home smells like apple pie, but the odor persistently lingers. we have learned to live with it..we’re pretty much diverse here. the koreans have pretty strong stuff, too.

  24. I have great memories of eating tuyo as a child. On the weekends, my sister and I would have a very early breakfast with our grandparents maids. It was always tuyo, fried rice, eggs, and sliced tomatoes. Instead of coffee, we would have a watery hot chocolate with an ice cube.(Maybe this was how the staff liked their hot chocolate. The 7 yr. old me, thought it was cool). I can still see the mint green ‘china’ the staff used. It had such a ’60’s look. (But mind you, this was the ’70’s).

  25. Their morphing into gourmet tuyo is a very good evolution ever happened to these delectable fish. They can travel in your check in luggage anywhere and pass through any airport clearance section with no hassle at all. The tuyo benefited from our culinary evolution through this prepared bottled gourmet tuyo and they’re ready to serve no reheating needed and the finest China and silver with a glass of cabernet or a beer enjoying them. No pungent aroma lingering just pure enjoyment and lots of fried garlic rice is the down side of them. Bye bye frying pan, ground coffee, vinegar, fresh citrus skin and aromatic candles.

  26. wow, maria clara..i learn something new everyday..i googled gourmet tuyo, and came up with many sites. and different brands!.i must live under a rock. it also states that some of them aren’t as salty. i’ve got to try that..
    but it will be a while until they have gourmet danggit, pusit and gumaa…until then, i’ll just have to make do with the deodorizers.

  27. Natie: all the dried fish we have they are processed and bottled in oil, herbs and spices even smoked fish tinapa they bottled it in oil too which is also very good. I had dried labahita which was labeled as gourmet daing. It was very good not salty at all and easy to chew – soft and moist I would assume from the oil and the sliced garlic is very aromatic not pungent. I had a bottled dried mussels which were also good. I had bottled danggit in oil, herbs and spices too. I assume with big demand and stiff competition the manufacturers make better selection now. They have all the raw materials there, nothing is imported except I would imagine the garlic coming from China since they are gigantic.

  28. 100% beeswax candles (a tad pricey but they’re worth it ) usually do the trick for me when it comes to combating cooking odors. right before i turn on the stove, i light two candles and leave them burning for an hour after i finish cooking. make sure they’re pure beeswax and not mixed with paraffin.

  29. Almost everything now is either bottled or canned,i’ve seen canned laing, sisig, squid as well. I haven’t tried them though, but have tried the bottled tuyo in oil and the small bangus sardines, and they are the best for me.

  30. This is for Natie. I’ve been told that frying Tuyo in Olive Oil helps lessen, if not totally obliterate, the smell when you fry it. I still have to try it though as I haven’t fried it for some time.


    I wonder what westerners complain about when Pinoys cook this wonderful and ingenious foodstuff and yet think highly of moldy, stinky cheeses…

    Hehehe!!! Mabuhay ang Tuyo!

  32. I love tuyo with champorado especially during rainy season….real comfort food for me and brings back childhood memories

  33. As a kid, after having the usual family dinner, I would smell tuyo being cooked by my loving yaya for her own dinner. I recall the days where I would have a “second” dinner joining my yaya in the kitchen eating with her, her freshly cooked tuyo, sided with tomatoes and vinegar with a pinch of pepper.

    Now, being a wife and mother of 2, we decided to experiment on other ways of preparing tuyo and started giving it out to friends during Christmas. Friends started ordering so my husband and I now prepare bottled tuyo with roasted garlic in olive oil, which we sell to friends and family. We also started using dried labahita to make other concoctions. The business is growing and we hope to make it big soon. Our product is called “My Dad’s Kitchen.” You should try it. it is tuyo with a twist…

  34. for folks sending/bringing tuyo or dried fish to loved ones abroad, try sending it already fried. place the fried tuyo in double zip lock baggies and freeze. keep frozen till needed. to reheat, place in a small pan/tray loosely covered with foil, stick this in the toaster oven or broiler till heated through/ slightly sizzling (takes less than 5 minutes). leave the tuyo aroma here at ‘Pinas. :-)

  35. speaking of tuyo..i just fried goodness the smell made me puke as i am 2 months pregnant but the taste of what i cooked was delightingly fabulous.
    what i did was i heated up the pan with oil brought it outside my window, throw the dried fish in and covered the pan,back to the stove, and out to the window until it was cooked.
    but although i used that trick the smell still won’t go..i had to open all my windows and doors for 30 minutes and wear winter clothes inside the house and let my ass says, if u want something u have to sacrifice something in return..

  36. help! anyone who knows about “tuyo from me” brand of tuyo in olive oil? i always buy that from SM Hypermarket in MOA every weekend where they feature homemade products…nyways, they stop selling it. tried asking for the seller but they cant find it….its really good because it is deboned and “scales less ” in olive oil. It is bottled. I love giving it to my friends abroad everytime i go visit them….hope somebody could help me…thanks much!

  37. has anyone tried making their own tuyo? i’ll be getting a food dehydrator next week and was wondering if it is doable to make my own tuyo? living in the backwoods of sweden kinda imposes difficulties for me in procuring tuyo and dilis, sun drying is not an option din….

    will it smell a lot kaya if i used the dehydrator?

  38. Ria, you might end up with tuyo jerky instead of the tuyo we all grew up with….I think burying the herring in salt is what makes it ‘tuyo’–the salt leeches out the moisture and so the fish get that distinctive texture and saltiness.

    Try it, though–maybe load up the dehydrator racks with fish covered in rock salt and very little vinegar for faux fermentation (might help with the smell, too)? Let me know how it goes (then maybe I’ll subject my dehydrator to this experiment, too LOL).



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