Bangus - Filipino Milkfish

When we used to go to the Philippines to visit my relatives I ate pretty basic stuff and not any of the crazy Filipino stuff. As I grew older I came to understand a bit more about my mom's upbringing. She was considered upper class Filipino even though by our standards her family would be middle class. She had a cook, maid, and driver. Her family spoke English and she had to learn tagalog in order to graduate high school. So she never learned to cook very much Filipino food, just the basics: adobo, pancit, lumpia.

One of the foods that I would eat while there was bangus (pronounced bong-oose with a soft g). This is a milkfish that has a delicate white flesh and a million tiny bones (or it seems like a million). If they don't remove the bones well, you can be constantly picking them out as you eat. My favorite preparation is the marinated fish and then it is grilled. The great thing is that you can find this fish here in the Filipino supermarkets. It's sold frozen and totally deboned.

I went over to my favorite Filipino blog, Burnt Lumpia, and found the marinade recipe. It really is probably the most basic recipe that is used even for my mom's adobo recipe: vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper. You marinate the fish overnight or all day and then grill it. I just cooked it on a skillet on the stove. Perfect. This is light, healthy, and yummy. Bangus is still one of my favorite fishes. I'm sure this marinade would work great on tilapia as well.

P.S. Cold grilled bangus is just like smoked fish - delish.

Marinated and Grilled Bangus (taken from Burnt Lumpia)

Serves 2

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 boneless and butterflied milkfish (can be found frozen at Asian markets)

Combine the vinegar, soy, garlic, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place the fish, flesh side down, into the marinade. Spoon some of the marinade over the skin side as well. Cover dish with plastic wrap, place in refrigerator, and allow to marinate for 6 to 8 hours and turning the fish over during the last hour.

Place the fish, flesh side down, on a hot pre-heated and well-greased grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush the skin side of the fish with canola oil, then flip fish over and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from grill and serve immediately.