Fried marinated milkfish

Fried marinated milkfish

Daing na bangus

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

In my cousin’s home, fried marinated milkfish is often part of the breakfast spread. I break off a large portion to transfer to my plate with a big mound of rice, then I break off little bits to dip in sawsawan. I love its crisp skin, moist flesh and the punch of vinegar and garlic that is signature to this dish and at the heart of Filipino cuisine.

Milkfish (bangus), the country’s national fish, is available frozen and butterflied from Asian grocery stores, but rainbow trout is a great fresh substitute. Ask your fishmonger to butterfly it, then remove any remaining small bones yourself. It is typically left whole for the trademark look.


Quantity Ingredient
100ml coconut or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 x 300g milkfish or rainbow trout, cleaned and butterflied
6 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns or freshly cracked black pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
Garlic and vinegar dipping sauce, to serve
steamed rice, to serve


  1. Place the vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar in a large shallow dish and stir until the sugar dissolves. Place the milkfish in the mixture and turn to coat well. Set aside.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and a pinch of salt to make a paste. Add the peppercorns and pound until cracked and combined. Smear the paste over the tops of the fish, then stack the fish together. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, swapping the fish over halfway. You can leave them to marinate overnight if you wish.
  3. Fill a frying pan with enough vegetable oil to cover the fish, about 3 cm deep and put over medium–high heat until very hot but not smoking. Drain the fish, discarding the marinade. Cook the fish, one at a time, skin side down, for 5 minutes each until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Serve with the dipping sauce and steamed rice.

What is it?

  • Daing is a generic term for cured or preserved fish. Marinating in vinegar, salting or sun-drying are all different techniques employed. Once it is ready, it is pan-fried until crisp and enjoyed with plenty of rice. Daing evolved as a means to preserve fresh fish in the days before refrigeration; today, it is everyday food eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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