Small Fish with Beady Eyes…


Dulong is the common name used in the markets to sell the fish in the photo above. And I have always to referred to these as dulong, probably because my mom called it that, and thus I did earlier posts entitled “tortang dulong“, and “daing na dulong“. But those were technically incorrect post titles. First of all, “real” dulong is that smallest fish on the planet (if you were in grade school when I was) that some say only come from Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur. However, even that claim to fame by the “real” dulong (pandaca pigmea), has been beaten by an even smaller fish, schindleria brevipinguis, from Australian waters, and underwhelmed by an EVEN SMALLER fish, a member of the carp family, found in Indonesia…


So while it is technically wrong, I think dulong is commonly (though mistakenly) used to refer to these small fish (which were 5-10 times bigger than then Indonesian fish) with beady eyes in many local markets. As I mentioned in my earliest post on dried dulong, I wasn’t sure if these were anchovy or dilis fry. Some googling confirmed a Visayan term “libgao” some of our crew use to name this fish, as potentially anchovy fry. In my post on tortang dulong, readers were quick to point to several names for this fish, including silverfish (not a scientifc name and I can’t find the scientific name) from Australia and Canada, ipon from Ilocos, nylon in Davao, etc. Suffice it to say that THESE small fish are most likely babies of a larger species of fish and are caught at sea with lambats or nets. Real dulong is presumably caught with nets in a lake. One could be mean and rename tortang dulong into “Several Hundred Cute and Defenseless Baby Anchovies in Egg Batter Fried to a Crisp in Hot Oil.” :)


39 Responses

  1. i like tortang dulong.but i think this would be good just sautéed with tomatoes, garlic and shallots like my mom-in-law does.she does this too with anchovy like fish which is called matalos.

  2. I love the Dulong in Olive Oil that Joyce Aragon sells. Do you have any idea how that is made? :)

  3. Hahahaha… i love that name… “Several Hundred Cute and Defenseless Baby Anchovies in Egg Batter Fried to a Crisp in Hot Oil.” teeheehee

  4. Cafe Bola’s pasta with dulong in cream sauce is a must try! I love it especially with lots of chili flakes.

  5. “Several Hundred Cute and Defenseless Baby Anchovies in Egg Batter Fried to a Crisp in Hot Oil.” ……or “FRY BABY” for short? hehehehe

  6. I totally agree with Trina – Joyce Aragon’s dulong pate is excellent with crackers, pan de sal, toast bread slices, pasta or rice very versatile, tasty and no fishy taste at all. There’s a herb she used which I cannot discern what it is. I love dulong okoy too with lots of chopped sweet onion.

  7. We call that “nylon” in our house and cook it torta-style, with eggs and a bit of flour then fried into little pancakes. I call it fish burgers=) I like it when the edges are crispy. yummy when dipped in ketchup with lotsa hotsauce and a bit of soy sauce. yummy!!!

  8. that makes delicious torta..nanay used to wrap those defenseless baby anchovies in banana leaves a la pinangat, and cook it as paksiw..or, it would be cooked without the leaves as paksiw, til almost dry (pinamalhan in ilonggo)

    MM, that’s not tabios, is it?

  9. Aren’t those dilis? or do they just look as big as dilis because the picture was magnified? Anyway, I like dilis just plain pan-fried and served with sinangag & suka. Another one I like is danggit. Mmmmm, it has been years since I’ve had those.

    As for dulong, I really love Joyce Aragon’s Dulong in Olive Oil. I always ask for that as pasalubong. I have tried other brands but nothing tastes as good as Joyce’s.

  10. I was surprised when you called the fish above dulong, as the dulong I know is much tinier — specifically, the one in Joyce Aragon’s Dulong in Olive Oil. (And yes, I think she makes the best one.) To me, the one in the picture looks like dilis.

  11. i am often told that dulong and “ipon” from ilocos are different. . .now i’m really confused, all i know is the ipon comes out after the new moon/full moon??. . . and i am still confused which months does it appear, hmmm, and sometimes the ipon that fishermans get are fine, thin, small dulong like fish which the consumers prefer, and sometimes they catch a bit bigger and plump version with zebra-ish stripes and still dulong like, which they say is the “first appearance” of the fish, probably more mature. . . now if i am just in the philippines i would get specimens and let the researchers figure if the two (dulong and ipon) are completely different species.

  12. yummy! I just LOVE this fish specie. ur right sir! we call this specie “ipon” in Iloco. :)

  13. In the office here in Cebu, there is an on-going debate on what this fish is locally called. “Turnos” is the Visayan name, and in Ginatilan, Cebu, it is known as “magamay.” It is prepared in the “ginamos” manner, and if it has the extra label “sinabado” attached, it lasts for about a week (Sabado to Sabado).

  14. there’s a similar fish here, although much fairer in color and sometimes a bit bigger, that some call silverfish. I found it in HK groceries in Vancouver too. It’s just dredged in cornstarch and deep fried, then tossed with some salt. Yummy, like fish fries. :)

  15. Trina and Maria Clara: Could it be that the Dulong in Olive Oil is something similar to Sardines in Olive Oil with dill pickle slices, carrot coins, bay leaves, etc.? If it is, then send me an e-mail Maria Clara….it is quite a long process…it is in one of my “to do list” in the fall or winter…

  16. It is libgao in the Cebuano dialect, although I have heard warays call it turnos. According to my husband, they don’t grow to bigger fishes, they are just what they are, small. Aside from being made to ginamos, dried and torta, they’re also great for kinilaw with just a little kalamansi and salt,but you have to eat it right away since it becomes bitter when marinated in vinegar like the regular kinilaw. They are also good for “inun-u-nan” or paksiw wrapped in colis (lemon tree? not sure of the name) leaves or immature banana leaves. I also use them for tinola with some malungay leaves, nice!

  17. what a coincidence! we have just received some ginamos na turnos from ginatilan, cebu and i’m having some for dinner tonight as “kinamatisan” (sauteed in pork fat, onions, garlic, and lots of tomatoes). And what do you know? It’s done the “sinabado” way. Yipee!

  18. In Leyte we call this “tugnos”. In Boljoon, a town south of Cebu, it is known as “kalamputi” or “bawdnon.”

  19. I love fritters made out of this tiny fish. I make it exactly as you described “Several Hundred Cute and Defenseless Baby Anchovies in Egg Batter Fried to a Crisp in Hot Oil.” The ones I get locally is smaller and they come frozen in blocks.

  20. my mom loves this fish . she eats it everyday. i never wanted to try it coz i always think that she only eats this because it’s cheap. she even just eats it kinilaw style. i guess to save some more.but with this post i stand corrected again with my mom.

  21. we call that fish tugnos in bohol.yes,they don`t grow any bigger than`s good as paksiw wrapped with banana leasaves,fish omelette,fried after being dried,but best of all,as kinilaw

  22. this is ginamus tugnos to my family. it’s sold at 20 pesos per glass (highball) at the local market. it’s never sold por kilo, i don’t know why. my husband says there are variants of this fish and that i should not buy the darker colored ones because they are bitter. as usual, i am not sure if he is just pulling my leg but i will share that with you anyway…

    by the way, this fish, fermented into into ginamus for, hmmm, three days, with kalamansi and sili, eaten with rice, is heaven.

  23. MM, It may be interesting for you to know that in Cagayan Valley there is a small variety fish which my in-laws say say is not Dulong. They only catch this fish in the river. The small fish is caught in a net shaped like a long butterfly net. The net is set on bamboo poles planted in the river bed of Cagayan river. The fish swim upstream (or down stream, not so sure there) to spawn during the early months of January to February during the week that the moon is at its smallest. They call the fish Ipon and the fishermen can hit a jackpot catch that can fill up one whole jeepney load. They sell it for Php1,000.00 per can (like the huge sqaure can of Baguio oil). All the fisherman are excited before the season comes. It’s not dilis or dulong but wahtever it is, it means money to the fisherman. My in-laws cook it into something like a torta but without eggs. She mixes a pot full of it with some salt and ginger and cooks it in a pan lined with banana leaves until it sets. They like it very much.

  24. MM, this is so good for inun-unan with garlic rice and egg. KALAMI!!! thanks for the post.

  25. karen says:

    hey! wut’s tat bigger fish doin in there??

    Karen, that’s hewas (“he-was” ashamed to be in the middle of those nano-fish B-)

  26. I was always in a quandary with dulong. In Bicol, I know of a similar very small fish named tabios. Are they the same?

  27. To Betty Q

    How do you make dulong/sardines in olive oil ala pate? Also does anyone know how to make anchovies in olive oil as there are a lot of anchovies in the market at this time… thank you.

    Thanks MM as usual interesting post!

  28. hello MM,

    thanks for this post. now I know it’s dulong for most of luzon and ipon for Ilocos and many other interesting names in other regions.

    We in Iloilo have this confusion too over what they really are. Thus, I encouraged a student to do a research about it. Apparently, in Panay alone, there are many names. It’s LOBO-LOBO to us in the city; it’s MARAGBAS or sometimes BISYA to Guimbal, Miagao and San Joaquin. It’s HUMOY-HUMOY to some parts of Antique.

    In a particular town, ah yes, I remember now, CULASI, they have this specialty product made from these tiny fish. They call it PININDANG. These are molded flat to a shape and sun-dried. The resulting product is like a wide rectangular flat chip.(I’m not sure that’s a vivid description, pardon me). Anyway, it’s fried crisp and served with a salad of tomatoes, onions and red egg with a vinegar dip.

    These tiny fish are actually anchovy fries. When they mature, we refer to them as DILIS (BALINGON to us Ilonggos).My student deduced that there will be as many names to this dulong and its regional equivalents as there are many species of anchovies. So to specifically identify the specie while it is still a fry is extremely difficult. Even our fisheries professors have a hard time with it.

  29. Hi Teresa!

    In Isabela we call that fish “IFUN”. We usually cook it with onions, eggs and tomatoes. Yummy!

  30. “Several Hundred Cute and Defenseless Baby Anchovies in Egg Batter Fried to a Crisp in Hot Oil.” :) -hahahahaha!!!!!

  31. I love tortang dulong, though I’ve alwasys just known it as tiny silver fish fried in egg. I’ve only ever eaten them made my mom, and it’s beens years since I’ve last eaten one. Maye I can give it a go or convince her to make me some! hehe.

  32. indayhami, thank you so much for that comment… it really fascinates me how we all learn so much from the comments and exchaqnge of ideas on this blog… I kind of guessed they were fry…just wasn’t certain which kind… thank you again!

  33. The fish actually have puzzled researchers for so long even fisheries scientists in UPV (located in Miagao, Iloilo). We are trying to solve the mystery on this soon. We’ve been conducting studies to determine the species of this and already considered to culture them in tanks. However, this fish would not live long in captivity. If you could provide me with high quality pictures of this different locally named fish, I will try to help. We fisheries managers have long ignored this and I think its high time we resolve this. We are very much concerned about the status of its stocks, fishery and management. This/These fish have been an important part of our culture that we have to help manage conserve and manage this/these species. For now, FishBase 2004 identifies the fish “dulong” as Gobiopterus lacustris. However, it has been mentioned that it can only be found in Luzon only. In fact, it is known all throughout the Visayas. “Ipon”, of Ilocos of course, is apparently a fish under Family Mugillidae including that of “ludong” in Cagayan. However, species have not been verified.

  34. Hi MM, your blog’s always a great read. I like the second picture, with the lone silvery round fish resting on top of the little fishes : )

    To Teresa: as Paul has noted, that Cagayan Valley fish is indeed ifun. When the fry grows up, it becomes ludong endemic to the Cagayan River. I think it’s now endangered though because of over-fishing. I got interested in it after reading a story in an agriculture magazine.

  35. Hi, im a MS ocean sciences student UPV is indeed difficult to determine to which species or at least genus does this fish belongs nor to understand its behavior, fecundity, mortality and aging: heheheheheh..
    i would like to correct some of your misconceptions about this fish. MARAGBAS is not only composed of a single species but various species or genus (maybe tuna,bangus, anchovies, etc) caught all together by a very fine net. the fishing of MARAGBAS has a negative implication on fish abundance since it will diminish the number of recruits for exploitation.
    Only a few fishery scientists know about this truth even the fishery researchers of UPV who are expert in the field of fish biology .now im telling it to you..the one who revealed such to me was a filipino taxonomist who happened to be a very closed friend of mine, based in OMAN



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