Tortang Dulong / Fried Fish Fry Cakes


Sometimes tinkering with something you have grown up with and have taken for granted yields scrumptious results. Take tortang dulong. Something my mom used to make when she got back from the market as the dulong were at their freshest. She would fry up little fish cakes after mixing in flour, egg, salt and pepper with the slimy mass of juvenile or baby fish. dul5The smaller the fish fry, the more solid were the resulting fish cakes. The only distinct body parts once fried were the dozens of eyes on the surface of the fish cake. If the fish fry were bigger then you could distinguish whole fish and the mouth feel was notably different. At any rate, I had forgotten about this childhood staple until recently when I saw some incredibly fresh miniature dulong at the market. I bought ¾ of a kilo, rushed home, and decided to do some experimentation…

First, I mixed in some flour and an egg into about ½ of the dulong that I purchased. I guess you can just tell when it is about the right consistency for frying. dul2Add a generous amount of salt and some cracked black pepper. Our cook says the most common way to prepare it in their home town is with some chopped green onion and some chopped tomatoes so I did this as the base recipe. This version was good. The tomato bits gave it some moisture and the onion added flavor and color. I decided to try two other variations and I was pleasantly surprised…first was a version with chopped siling mahaba (long green chilies) incorporated into the batter. I added some of the seeds hoping to give it zing. This version was good, though the chilli didn’t seem as noticeable as I wanted it to be.

A second variation was one with chopped tomatoes and some dul3chopped wansoy (coriander or cilantro). The fragrance and taste of the cilantro was nice and powerful and seemed to go really well with the fish and the tomatoes provided moisture. Fried to a crisp at the edges, this version was my favorite of the three. All three versions were delicious when dipped in homemade chili vinegar. The crispness of the edges of the fishcake, the taste of the dulong and the other ingredients, the compatibility with vinegar and the comfort of rice was just a really good food moment.

One of the benefits of this website for me and my family is the dul4added incentive to re-visit old favorites and to try and see if they can be improved upon… this tortang dulong is an excellent example. I hadn’t had it in years but now I can’t wait until I find some really fresh dulong at the market so I can enjoy them once again. I would be curious if any of the readers have other versions of this dish that might be worth trying the next time I am in test kitchen mode… With the leftover dulong, my crew added lots of salt and allowed it to ferment until they had guinamos or this salty, brownish delicacy that one must grow up with to appreciate fully…


32 Responses

  1. Mmmmmm torta … once for my brother’s birthday in lieu of the typical pricey imported steaks, roast beef, etc we’d have at home to celebrate birthdays he asked for some humble torta.

  2. Hi MM, fresh dulong is available in our local market at phP100
    a kilo around this time. I cook dulong adobo-style: with vinegar, soy sauce, plenty of garlic, a piece of ginger, ground pepper, a chili or two. Cook until the sauce has thickened, then drain (set aside as reserve sauce), continue to cook until dry. Adobong dulong keeps well, may be eaten with steamed rice,
    added to pasta, cook as omelet, and the left-over, resurrected as dulong lumpiang shanghai served with sweet-sour sauce.

  3. OMG, tortang dulong has got to be one of my fave Pinoy dishes, ever!
    I haven’t had these in years and will definitely seek them out next time i visit home.
    The other variation i’ve tried is to have them wrapped in banana leaves and cooked a la paksiw…

    MM, your pics always make me hungry, esp as it’s lunch break here again.

  4. we even make dulong sandwiches out of the friend dulong patties – great on toasted pan de sal with a litle garlic mayo or wasabi mayo, a slice of tomato, cucumber and some cilantro. it’s all your fault, MM…now i have to go to the palengke tomorrow afternoon to look for dulong (in our neighborhood talipapa, the best catch comes in around 4pm)!

  5. forgot to mention this…i don’t know about your vendors, but some wise guys over here pre-salt the dulong so that we sometimes end up with super-salty paksiw or tortang dulong. i always put them in a fine sieve first and give them a thorough rinse under running water, just to be sure.

  6. In Ilocos we have this fish variety called “ipon”, it really is identical to “dulong”, at first i assumed that they just have different names but I was wrong, the taste differ from each other “ipon” is more “malinamnam” and I asked my Dad and he says “dulong” is different. . . “ipon” comes out in Ilocos after the new moon (and I don’t remember exactly what month), which is very strange and no one can even explain why, so this fish is really seasonal but prices can go from 30-200 pesos a kilo. . .

  7. Millet is correct, the very first time i bought dulong here in Manila (a well-known Mall) super alat. i put celery (stalk),green/red bell pepper ,tomato, a pinch of sugar, flour, egg then serve with sawsawan suka with sili.

  8. Oooh, dulong memories! My husband & I used to buy relly great dulong in olive oil from the Magallanes weekend market several years back. But I don’t know where the lady who sells it has relocated. Can anyone help?

  9. Cecille, I bought some dulong in olive oil from the Salcedo (or was it Legazpi) weekend market a couple of months ago. Great on bread! I dont remember the name of the stall but the dulong was in a squat, round bottle with gold-colored cap. Nice packaging, which makes me wonder why it wouldnt be in groceries/supermarkets.

  10. Cecille, the dulong in olive oil I mentioned apparently has the brand-name “Joyce.” Dunno if that’s the stall name too. Happy hunting!

  11. We can buy frozen dulong here in Oz from the fish market and it’s always a favourite amongst our Pinoy mates when we cook them.To make it go a long way we mix the dulong with grated potatoes, grated carrots,beansprouts,spring onions,grated sweet potatoes,wansoy,egg, flour,salt and pepper.Prepare and cook as above and this will blow a hole in your nightie!(Aussie slang for there’s nothing better).

  12. I make tortang dulong just simply with flour and an egg. But it is so easy to make dulong pate, the dulong in olive oil that is fabulous with bread. As I’m a cheapskate, I can’t help but compare it with the comemrcially sold ones, one bottle going for about P200, when it is home made the cost would only be about P50.

    Here’s a link to how I do it,

  13. CecileJ & Coco: The dulong in olive oil you’re looking for is from Joyce Aragon. We’ve been buying her dulong for ages from bazaars, and have taken to referring to her as “Joyce Dulong!” I’ve tried other brands, and hers is the best because it’s not malansa. I once introduced a friend to it, who then went and bought a jar ASAP, then ate the whole thing with her boyfriend in one sitting!

    Joyce Aragon’s also a baker — her Chocolate Rum Cake is on Lori Baltazar’s famous “10 Best Desserts” list, and deservedly so. A very nice (and pretty) woman. Apart from bazaars, she sells out of 56 San Gregorio St., Magallanes Vill. The telephone numbers are 853-0129, 852-0841.

    And no, I’m not Joyce’s PR manager, relative, or even friend. I just love her dulong and Choc. Rum Cake, so I want to make sure her business does well and she keeps making them! :-)

  14. @ LINDA: we’re from oz too. how is dulong called in our part of the world so i can ask the clerk at the fish market? thanks! :)

  15. wow, sarap! my mama would sometimes make inihaw out of fresh dulong. and coming from a place where the beach is just a stone’s throw away we get lots of those. i love the inihaw and ginamos style of the dulong coz then i didnt have to worry about the bones anymore. pinaksiw (or as bisaya call it “inun-onan”) is also one variety that i love esp when they wrap it with banana leaf and you eat it fresh from the “colon” (or ‘kon for the bisaya)—its a clay-pot. ahhh, to be home in pinas again.

  16. I can see dulong is a favorite…am in a Barcelona internet cafe at Euro 1 every 15 minutes so I am just motoring through comments…Sounds like the other readers are kind enough to answer all the questions…

  17. Leah,it’s called silverfish and I bought mine from Raptis.The dulong is slightly bigger than what MM bought and it comes in a 1kg box.

  18. a favourite way for us to have silverfish is chinese salt & pepper style (deep fried in a very light flour coating and tossed with toasted szechuan peppercorn and salt). Silverfish is the closest I can get to dulong here in Calgary.

  19. no, no..i think we’re getting our fish mixed up here. silverfish, i think, is closer to dilis..dulong are so tiny there is no way you can coat them in flour and deep-frying them without their turning into omelet, with or without egg. also, there’s no way you can ihaw them, mardie. could you be referring to some kind of dilis, perhaps, the kind some people call first-class dilis? yes, wilson, i think there are two kinds of dulong – the best one is almost opaque and white, with a rounder body (my mom says this is the “real” dulong), while the other type is silver-grayish, thinner and more translucent -this is best for bagoong. i do not know which one is ipon. in the davao markets, they’re called “nylon”, presumably because they look like nylon strings.

  20. Coco: Yes! That’s the one — in a squat, wide-mouthed bottle with the gold cap!!! KAtrina: Thanks for the contact numbers. You and Coco are heaven-sent!

    MM: Hala, you better come home soon or we are gonna take over your blogsite!!! Mwahahahaha!!!! (Joke! You are Super MM — no one can take your place! including Mylai D of the acerbic keyboard!)

  21. Sinigang na dulong sa kamias, you can also try this one. The same procedure lang katulad sa ibang fish, yummy!

  22. The silver fish I bought from Oz is almost identical to MM’s photo but,just a smidge bigger. And for the dilis we call it
    “whitebait”in Oz.

  23. I’ve tried only one version of dulong, and I was hoping that you guys could tell me its name. The teeny fish were combined with chopped kamias and wrapped in banana leaves to form squarish packets. They were stewed in a clay pot with a combination of fresh and dried kamias, and I guess, patis and water. Lani, is this, by any chance, your “sinigang na dulong sa kamias?” Or could this be Bay_leaf’s by “paksiw” na dulong?

  24. how best to clean dulong? just rinsing will do? no lime/calamnsi or lemon to minimize the fishy taste? i know it may deplete the core taste of this dish but for some dulong platters i have tasted, it’s just way too “malansa”.


  25. manny, if it’s really fresh, just a quick rinse in water or slightly salted water will do. If the finished product is “malansa,” the starting product was not good to begin with… It should have no fishy taste but a clean meaty overtone…

  26. I like dulong and i used to cook it too. But the problem is my daughter. She dislikes the soft texture of the dulong. She found it “kadiri”. Is it possible for me to fry the dulong first little by little in very hot oil till crispy then mix it with flour, egg etc to make torta?

  27. Lling Ling, if you make thinner cakes they would be crisper. However some of the softness is what makes tortang dulong good. double frying might be a bit too much for this very delicate fish…its so small it might be totally gone by the time you fry it twice!

  28. I came from Batangas province and i don’t yet how to cook dulong. i will let you know later.

  29. I just bought 10 jars of Joyce’s dulong from Magallanes Village. I was surprised to pay 240 pesos each. A couple of years ago, it was only 50 pesos. It has been awhile that I had this dulong from Magallanes, Phils. I live in West Covina, CA and I will appreciate if any of the readers of this website can share their recipe in making the dulong almost similar to Joyce’s. The closest would be Vicky’s recipe which is like adobo style, but any other recipe might come out similar to the Magallanes Village one. Thank you.

  30. Wow! I really really love tortang dilis! And i’m eating it right now… I really love fish..!!! Well i suggest others, if you don’t want to spend much money, think it’s okay if you wouldn’t use flour.. Well.. i think the taste’s still the same.. ^_^ —ProudToBeAFishLover…………………….

  31. Hi MM, I was pleasantly surprised when I googled “how to cook dulong” and found your blogsite on top of the page!! My good wife was able to buy some dulong here on Guam and she’s cooking it tonight and she asked me to look up how cook dulong. Thanks for the recipe. We’ll enjoy our tortang dulong.

  32. I was debating with someone just now as to what was this called. I am in Manila now, but grew up in an Ilocano household in Baguio. My father did most of the cooking, so I can say that our food at home was mostly from La Union, where he was born and grew up.

    My dad called it ‘ipon’. And same as what someone said above, my dad also said there is a certain time of the year when they are available.

    He cooks it in a pot (but not sure what ingredients he uses) with banana leaves at the bottom. Though I was not really a fan of it when I was young, I would like to have some RIGHT NOW! (the person I was debating with was our yaya, and when I confirmed she knew what I was talking about…I told her to go and find some…and have it ready for dinner)

    Ahhhhh….it is a form of seafood, right? hehehe, at my age, one can’t be too conscious about their diet.



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