For years I heard about tawilis, and tasted it once or twice preserved in oil and bottled. But I don’t think I have seen it fresh, (or at least noticed them on offer fresh). So I was very intrigued when one of the vendors at the FTI AANI Saturday market had about 10 kilos of tawilis on offer last Saturday, and I bought a kilo of the rather small but very fresh looking fish for a somewhat pricey PHP150. Now I regret NOT buying everything she had for sale and just freezing the rest for later use. Sardinella tawilis is one of only a few, if not the ONLY fresh water sardine in the world. It thrives ONLY in Taal Lake in Batangas. The lake is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the Philippines, and it is connected to Balayan Bay through the Pansipit River, according to this very informative write-up that you SHOULD read if curious about tawilis.
Clearly a relative of tamban or saltwater sardines, the tawilis seem more slender, a tad more delicate. The scales were so thin, the vendor said the fish didn’t have to be scaled… I knew exactly how I was going to experiment with this batch, and had my fingers crossed that it would work out well… results up in the next post! :)