Tulingan / Mackerel Tuna


There is something about incredibly fresh fish that looks like incredibly fresh fish. I know, that sounds dumb, but it is the tul2same principle that applies to wine… until you have tasted really good wine AND really bad wine, you can’t really say when a wine is really good… Before the fish experts get crazy that I have misidentified these fish… I admit that I was vascillating between two Filipino names Tambacol, and Tulingan, and two English names, Mackerel Tuna and Skipjack Tuna. I have interchanged the use of names in other posts on this website so I am obviously unsure which is which. My crew refer to the fish photographed here as Tulingan and in different parts of the Philippines either the Mackerel Tuna or the Skipjack Tuna or both are referred to as Tulingan

At the markets last weekend, these fish simply stood out in a sea of ho-hum relatives. When they still glisten and look like the sea, when they have a thin film of “saliva” (laway) on them, when they have the clearest of eyes, they are quite fresh. I am not the best selector of fresh fish but when I see really tul3good ones beside older ones, I know what to pick. This fish is extremely buff; in other words, it has dark red meat, probably the result of the vigorous and powerful swimming it does in large schools in ocean waters. If a dapa or sole is moseying along on the sandy ocean floor, hanging out and watching the world swim by (hence its flakey delicate white meat; the sea equivalent of couch potato), then the tuna is constantly swimming a marathon and rarely pausing to rest. Imagine for a ridiculous moment, chomping on the leg of a couch potato vs. the leg of a triathlete…gross.

Thus, this fish is best prepared grilled as it holds up well to the open flames and its dense flavorful meat is excellent for dipping in any number of Pinoy sawsawan or dipping sauces. All you need to do is remove its guts and salt it befor putting it over a charcoal fire. I find the meat of this fish a bit too dark for my liking… it is an oiler fish and possesses a stronger flavor. However, it looked brilliant before it was cooked…


28 Responses

  1. Yum — this is very healthy with red/brown rice, vegetables and sawsawan of tomatoes and red eggs. I can eat this every day.

  2. for the benefit of those abroad: typhoon milenyo hit metro manila with fury wed morning, with the worst of it coming sometime at noon till about 3 pm. not much rain, but very strong winds that toppled countless trees (even some old huge ones), lamp and electric posts and even billboards. saw some roofing materials flying about, un manned motorcycles dancing around in the streets. some casualties, but lesser than what we used to have when typhoons would hit without prior warning.

    there was a luzon-wide black-out that started wed morning for most areas. our electricity just came back on three hrs ago, around 4 pm. thurs. however, tv reports say more than 50% of luzon still in darkness as i write.

    still a lot of debris in the streets and a friend of mine in ilocos sur just texted to say milenyo was justleaving their area with light and sound show of thunder and lightning over the china sea.

    classes have been suspended in all levels today as they were yesterday.like i said, thankfully human loss was not as much as we feared, but one life lost is always one too many. lots of homeless people, and damage to property.

    we are just thankful most of us are ok, if inconvenienced by power failure, and in our case- consequently, also water service. that really sucked!


  3. Not sure if it’s my laptop, but there’s been a change on your site. The fonts are too small now, the layout is a bit different. This happened the past 2 days only.

  4. MM,

    our office goes deep sea fishing twice a year (excluding me), i was surprised when they told me that skipjack tuna is considered “trash fish” on the boats off San Diego, CA. though they use the skipjack tuna as lobster bait around the winter months. to make a long story short, i asked the guys to bring back some skipjack tuna on their next trip.

    after their last fishing trip we usually have our twice a year grilled lunch of tuna at my place. i marinated them in Chimichurri sauce for about an hour& grill over hot coals (or gas grill), they loved it. i mentioned to them if it is good enough for the lobster it’s good enough for us.

  5. i love this fish grilled and then a squeeze of kalamansi and bagoong, shallots and tomatoes yuummm, malapit na uli akong makatikim ng fresh tulingan i’m coming home oct. 21 in time for to all saint’s day. i love this sinaing too with pork fat and dried kamias. ahahay sarrap

  6. That’s skipjack or tulingan. It is good for grilling, kinilaw or even tataki (specially for bigger size skipjack). When I was young I heard a lot of people said that when you prepare a kinalaw na tulingan you have to twist the tail and then pull it out because by not doing it “nakakalason daw”. Sorry, I can not describe very well here but I am sure most of the people who love kinilaw na tulingan can understand the “seremonyas” that I meant here. Now I am a grown up person and work with a Japanese people who love eating sashimi (raw seafood) naintindihan ko na all about that “nakakalason”. That has something to do with how the fisherman took care of his catch. The basic thing to do is put the fish right away in ice to chill and preserve it’s freshness. By doing this, it prevents the histamine build up on the flesh of the fish (particularly the tuna family – skipjack is one of them). A person should avoid eating the tulingan that were not properly chilled due to the presence of histamine in its flesh. If eaten it will have an alergic reaction in humans. It stimulates gastric secretion and causes dilation of capillaries, constriction of bronchial smooth muscle, and decreased blood pressure (just borrowed these words from dictionary). That’s why here in the States the Fish monger will never sell skipjack, tuna, even mahimahi that has a core temperature of 40 F and up.

  7. Wow really looks life fresh from the sea. My mom used to make paksiw na tulingan and then cook them with coconut milk the next day. Yum!!! And yes, inihaw would be very good as well plus the usual spicy sawsawan. Also, ‘sinaing na tulingan’ which I miss a lot. Haven’t seen tulingan being sold even at the biggest fish market in London – Billingsgate Market. Or it could be that it just wasn’t available when I went there.

  8. The closest “relative” to the tulingan we can get is the fresh Spanish or Boston Mackerel. Like the tulingan, grilling it would be perfect. But for those who can’t grill (poor ventilation inside apartment, no patio/backyard, etc.), best way to cook this is to bake it. Clean, cut up, sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper & lemon (I use powdered calamansi), bake for 35-40 minutes @ 350 degrees and voila! Serve with steamed rice with a side of mango salsa — oh la la!

    Your picture jumps out of the screen! Makes me want to run to the Marina right away! :-)

  9. Big Al, you are right. The tulingan’s tail must be twisted. The same is true with Albacore tuna (white meat). The fishermen twists or cuts the tail to bleed the fish. If they don’t, the fish will turn reddish brown, unsuitable for consumption.

    I remember one time, my wife and I went to Oregon to go crabbing. On the pier, tuna boat captains were selling their catch because the fish processor cannot take all the boats in. There were catching too much tuna because of El Nino. Imagine $1.25 a pound! We bought, I believe 7 30-lb tuna. We gave it away to relatives and friends when we got back in the Bay Bay area.

    Cut into steaks…put seasoning…butter…wrap in foil and grill. It doesn’t take long to cook. Good eating!

    Sorry, MM, I just have to share this one in a lifetime experience. I hope you don’t mind.


  10. Tulingan is abundant along Batangas shores. My mom who is from Batangas likes to cook it with dried Kamias or Sampalok Mix and let it simmer for quite a while. They call it Sinaing na Tulingan. The broth tastes like patis. It is popular in the region like Tamales, you can purchase it from local markets in Batangas.

  11. Thank you Big Al for making that issue re histamine in tulingan clear to me. My husband sometimes gets an allergic reaction to tulingan, but sometimes not. We thought it had something to do with variations of the fish, in the same way that some “bulinaw” are bitter and some are not. Now we know that it has something to do with proper preparation. Thanks again.

  12. Hi everyone, MY APOLOGIES for not responding more to queries, etc. We are on day three without electricity and perhpas another few more days. My site has been down for hours on end and I have little or no access to it…today just the last 5 minutes have I been able to see what it on it. Bear with me for a few days until things go back to normal…hopefully. I am not being rude, I just can’t seem to connect and stay on the site for longer than a few minutes…thanks!

  13. MM,
    Great blog!!! I’m a foodie myself and your site is just perfect especially for those of us who’s out of the country. I haven’t seen tulingan here in Chicago and I don’t remember seeing it in NY when I was living there. I am from Iloilo and I remember that when it’s in season, this fish is really cheap. It’s great for grilling but people also use it for paksiw or sinabawan. In Iloilo, we call it “aloy” when they’re small, “tulingan” when they’re bigger, and “panit” when they’re fully grown (maybe between 20-30 kgs at least). I remeber people twisting the tail and pulling out some kind of a sac that’s supposed to contain “poison.” I had first hand experience of being poisoned by this fish. People say that if you don’t know how to clean this fish properly, it is “makahulubog” (that’s “nakakalasing” for you). I remember having some kind of allergic reaction (developing hives and itchiness and very dizzy). Some anti-histamines took care of that. Thanks Big Al, for the explanation.

    Anyway, the way Illongos would cook this fish (usually the smaller ones called “aloy”) is to cook it as “pinamalhan” (paksiw) first, then fry it. You should try it. It’s good.

    More power!!!

  14. That looks awesome.

    On a related note, I never knew that tulingan was actually a variety of tuna. Looking back, it makes sense to me know after having read your post, as I think about how “solid” tulingan meat was. The bad part about my memories of this fish was that we ALWAYS had “sinaing na tulingan”, and I hated it with a passion. Hated the way it looked, hated the way it smelled, hated the way it tasted.

    If only we had had it grilled like you suggested… I might have better memories of this fish. :)

  15. Tulingan is also abundant in Davao and just what Elna said, my nanay also used to make paksiw on it with coconut milk and most of the time we grilled it with a variety of sawsawan. yummyyyyy

  16. Fried neurons, your mother probably just took it out of the ref and served — very convenient and quite good with burong mustasa and kaning may sabaw na kape — very Batangueño. Probably how tulip’s mother also had it.

    But before fusion finally bows out, you guys must have a taste of what Nina Maralit-Toledo did to sinaing na tulingan post-typhoon — FRIED! Olive-oil-fried sinaing na tulingan, topped withy burong pajo and garlic. Doesn’t look great (picture of it in my blog) but tastes heavenly. The flavors of home and distant lands blended seamlessly.

    Marketman, you are invited to the Slowfood Manila Convivium. Will email our next meeting date, hope you can make it.

  17. sinaing na tulingan, cooked traditionally in clay pots, is great batangas dish. it goes very well with pajo (small magoes) with tomatoes and tagalog onions !

    bon apetit!

  18. we call this “mangko” and these can go very cheap at P10 pero kilo (but that was before). this is our comfort food. whatever and however we cook this fish will taste good. we even made sardines out of it or escabeche.

  19. i want to know if we can make a Fish Loaf out of Tulingan???
    it was our product research,, somebody help me.. thank you..

  20. 6rd grade a teacher ask me why are you so healthy? (I was in 3rd grade) What do you eat? I said “tulingan” from then on the kids call me tulingan. Her name is Mrs. Roxas. I am the only healthy looking kid in the whole grade school, no BS.
    Tulingan (or tuna) is a very versatile fish eat it the way you want it.

  21. Hello!!!!na try ko na iyong ibang recipes sa pagluluto ng tuna………..in fairness,masarap siya………bakit nga ba nakakalason ang tulingan?>yan kasi ang project ko ngayon…………….pls help me………………



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