Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Piattos Chips


Piattos cheese flavored potato crisps.  Piattos chips also comes in other flavors: sour cream and onion, roadhouse barbecue, nacho pizza, and roast beef. 


Piattos chips are cut into distinctive small bite-size hexagonal potato wafers.


They are sold under the Jack 'n Jill brand by Universal Robina Corporation the food arm of the holding firm J.G. Summit.


Prior to Piattos chips coming on the Philippine market one would have trouble recalling even a somewhat decent locally made potato chip.  Predecessors like V-Cut were very uneven products often with overcooked burnt chips filling half the bag .  To get edible potato chips one had to rely on imports—and shoestring potato snacks like Pik-Nik seemed to make up most of those.   Piattos was a distinct improvement and became a less expensive alternative to imported Frito-Lay or Pringles chips, although probably still not a satisfying substitute for those who like larger or rippled potato chips.  For them the newer potato chips from Oishi might be a better alternative.  Actually Spuds, which like Piattos are manufactured by Universal Robina, would be my first recommendation, but that line seems to have been phased out since I don't see them in supermarkets anymore.  It seems the premium potato chip market in the Philippines still isn't that large.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

MAXIMS TOWER - Hotel at Resorts World Manila

Maxims Tower Hotel in Manila

Maxims Tower hotel in Manila is an all suite luxury hotel that opened in late 2010 in the Newport City development next to Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines. Maxims Manila is integrated into the Resorts World Manila (RWManila) complex which has a popular casino and shopping arcades and is connected to the Manila Marriott Hotel.  (Update: The Remington Hotel has also opened next door.)  RWManila is a joint venture between Alliance Global a listed conglomerate associated with Andrew Tan probably known more for Megaworld and Genting Hong Kong (formerly Star Cruises).  RWManila was conceived as an integrated entertainment resort similar to Resorts World Genting in Malaysia and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.

Boutiques at Maxims Tower ground floor
The Marriott hotel is connected to Maxims

Maxims Tower Hotel Rates

A Maxims Suite has a listed rack rate of $300 per night not including 12% VAT and 10% service charge but a discount of up to 40% might be availed of for elite Resorts World members, a designation determined by previous play at Resorts World casinos.  A discounted listing for as low as $170 has also been observed on a hotel travel site.  A tax exemption is granted to foreign guests upon presentation of a foreign passport on check in.  It might be worthwhile to call and check the rate at the neighboring Marriott for a comparison to make sure one is getting a reasonable rate.  If money is not a consideration, one also has a choice of DeLuxe, Corner, Executive, Signature, Ambassador, and Presidential suites or Royal Villa. Complimentary Wi-Fi, breakfast, and parking are included for all rooms.

Restaurants and Food Outlets

Common area
Passion Restaurant
  • Cafe Maxims
  • Ginzadon
  • Impressions
  • Passion

Casino area
  • Bar 360
  • Mercado
  • Noodle Works
  • Pizzasta (2nd floor in area called Prosperity Court)
  • Maxims Dining (2nd floor)
  • Wok N' Steam (2nd floor in area called Prosperity Court) 

Cameras are not allowed in the casino area.  More restaurants can be found in the integrated Newport Mall, Marriott hotel, and other nearby Newport City buildings.

Contact Information

Telephone: (+632) 908-8888 or (+632) 908-8000 loc. 8220
Website: http://www.rwmanila.com/hotels-at-resorts-world-manila/maxims-tower
Email: maximshotel@rwmanila.com


Is Maxims Tower one of the best hotels in Manila? The Department of Tourism hasn't given it yet an official hotel rating, but the facilities for the most part raise it to the level of a top class hotel.  On the other hand one gets the impression the Maxims hotel plays a largely complementary or secondary role in the Resorts World complex which mainly revolves around its casino. Indeed the Maxims Tower does not have much of a hotel lobby or reception area to speak of.  Rather the foyer doubles as an entrance for the mall.  A small desk on the side, manned by a kind but also very busy individual who is constantly on the phone, serves as reception (Update: replaced recently by a larger more formal and better staffed reception desk).  For a self-proclaimed six-star luxury hotel this is likely to make for a disappointing first impression.  Early hotel reviews also seem to indicate the staff aren't as polished as they could be.  Still the slightly larger rooms, new facilities, and touted butler service might go some way to make up for it.

Casino at Maxims Tower Resorts World Manila

The casino is reputed to be the largest casino in the country and hosts a leg of the Asian Poker Tour.  It's a lively venue with a live band or show of some sort usually performing at Bar 360 in the middle of the casino area with gaming tables to one end, slot machines on the other, and restaurants tucked away on one side.  People are encouraged to become members.  Upon membership they are given membership cards which allow them to earn points by gambling at the casino, the points can then be redeemed for rewards and discounts.  With such perks RWManila has become a popular gaming destination but it is likely to face stiff competition in the future when a planned casino development hub along Roxas Boulevard is completed. 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Kanin Club

Kanin Club photo
Earlier Kanin Club Alabang location.  It has since moved to another building very close by.

Kanin Club is a restaurant serving Filipino cuisine.  It was founded in 2005 by two couples, Anthony and Emely Mendoza, and Tony Cancio and Mariela Luna who are also the owners of Cafe Breton.  The story goes that Anthony and his friends after cycling around Laguna would regularly stop by the café owned by Tony, a fellow biking enthusiast, to rest and replenish but felt that the crepes on offer weren't enough to satisfy them.  Instead they wanted something heartier—rice.  Thus Kanin Club the Filipino restaurant was born.    

For impressions and a restaurant review Kanin Club's branch at Westgate Alabang Muntinlupa was visited. Its other branch locations are its original branch in Santa Rosa, Laguna, UP-Technohub in Quezon City, F7 Building Scout Rallos Quezon City, Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati and The Hub Greenfield District in Mandaluyong.

Contact Info and Schedule
  • Kanin Club Paseo de Sta. Rosa - Tel: (049) 544-0332 Weekdays: 11am-2:30pm 5-10pm Weekends, Holidays: 11am-10pm 
  • Kanin Club Westgate, Alabang - Tel: (02) 771-1400 Weekdays: 11am-2:30pm 5:30-10:30pm Weekends, Holidays: 11am-10:30pm 
  • Kanin Club UP-Technohub, QC - Tel: (02) 332-5978 Daily: 11am-10pm
  • Kanin Club Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati - Tel.: (02) 621-6109 Daily: 11am-10pm
  • Kanin Club The Hub Greenfield, Mandaluyong - Tel.: (02) 631-0081


The Kanin Club Alabang branch is relatively small—cozy or cramped depending on one's mood and the number of other patrons.  Its interior evokes something between an Old Manila and a 70s retro chic with the capiz panels under the glass tabletops, wood tables and benches, colored stained glass windows, bright Filipino food-related expressionist paintings, and prominent wooden counter.

Kanin Club's menu is composed mainly of Filipino food with a smattering of foreign inspired dishes that have become popular locally.  The food was good and a distinct interpretation usually with a twist on standard Filipino recipes was noticeable.  We ordered the crispy dinuguan, seafood kare-kare, tinapa rice, and a sago't gulaman shake.  The crispy dinuguan seems to be a popular choice, but while agreeable enough, I must confess a little disappointment with it.  The crispiness of the pork bits of dinuguan is novel but it brought to mind a comparison with chicharon, making me think of the dish as more appetizer than main course.  The mildness of the dark blood sauce was also perhaps too innocuous.  Dinuguan while standard Filipino fare could be seen as a little more on the daring side for those new to Filipino cuisine and I found myself missing the stronger sour and spicy taste of a standard interpretation of the dish.

Kanin Club Kare-Kare
Seafood Kare-Kare
Kanin Club Dinuguan

The seafood kare-kare was more impressive with a bolder flavor than what one often finds; the distinct taste of what seemed like coconut came off well.  I do wonder though if the rich sauce will stand up well to repeated tastings or become cloying if eaten too much too soon.  The tinapa rice was fine with the smoked flavor of the fish being delicately balanced with the aromatics in the fried rice.

Kanin Club Tinapa Rice
Tinapa Fried Rice

Service and Value
Service could have been more attentive but was otherwise okay.  The price of the meal was within a reasonable range.

Other Filipino casual dining restaurants similar to Kanin Club in serving slightly more sophisticated Filipino dishes would be Abe, Crisostomo, and Serye.

More Information
  •  Lapitan, Karen. (November 27, 2010). Constant craving for rice gives rise to Kanin Club. The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    List of Food Kiosks in Metro Manila

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Philippine Vinegar

    Vinegar is called suka in Filipino.  Philippine vinegar is usually derived from sugar cane, coconut, or nipa.  Vinegar made from coconut sap or nectar from a coconut palm's inflorescence is called sukang tuba.  Vinegar made from nipa sap is called sukang sasa and has become closely related to the town of Paombong, Bulacan, which claims to be the vinegar capital of the Philippines, hence the term sukang paombong being adopted by some products.

    Vinegar is a common ingredient in Filipino cuisine being a fundamental ingredient in many basic Philippine preparations.  The defining characteristic of paksiw dishes is their use of vinegar.  Adobo and kinilaw use vinegar as well. Vinegar is also a common condiment at the Filipino dining table where it is commonly mixed with crushed garlic, soy sauce, siling labuyo, or some combination thereof as a dipping sauce to accompany a meal of fried fish, steamed shrimps or crabs, grilled liempo or crispy pata.  Such flavored or spiced vinegar (sinamak) is also sold pre-prepared in supermarkets.  Local brands include Datu Puti, Amihan, Silver Swan, Marca Piña, Lorins, Supremo, Tentay, Mother's Best, and Del Monte.

    More information:
    • Fresco, Mary Charlotte O. (July-September 2001). Making vinegar a business venture. BAR Research and Development Digest 3(3). Bureau of Agricultural Research, Philippines.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Sili | Philippine Chili - Siling Mahaba, Siling Labuyo

    Philippine chili photo

    Sili is the Filipino term for chili peppers.  Hot Philippine chilies are generally one of two varieties of chili: siling mahaba (also known as siling pangsigang, siling espada, and chili picante) or siling labuyo.  Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum var. annuum) are locally called siling bilog ("round chili") or siling parasko.

    Description of Sili 

    Siling mahaba (translation: "long chili") is usually a bright green but gets redder with age.  Despite its name, it grows to be only about a finger long although it is longer than the other commonly found hot chili pepper in the Philippines, siling labuyo.  Likely a cultivar of Capsicum annuum longum, siling mahaba packs about the same heat as a jalapeño.

    Siling labuyo (translation: "wild chili") are smaller and much hotter—at one time even being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chili although the habañero and other hotter chili peppers have since been identified. Their taxonomic classification is less clear with some saying they're Capsicum frutescens while others suggest that they too are Capsicum annuum or even Capsicum chinense because of their greater heat.  Genuine Philippine siling labuyo are becoming increasingly hard to find in Filipino markets where they are being supplanted by bird's eye chilies from Taiwan that keep better and which are also being labeled as siling labuyo.  The Philippine variety can be distinguished from its Taiwanese counterpart by its length; Philippine siling labuyo is shorter.

    Origin of Sili

    Philippine chilies, like all chilies, are believed to have originated in the Americas—some sources saying around Mexico, others in Peru—and were spread around the world by European traders, primarily the Spanish and Portuguese.

    Uses of Sili

    Siling mahaba as its alternative name suggests is often used in sinigang to give it an extra kick.  It's also used in dinuguan.  Siling labuyo is an ingredient in dishes like Bicol express.  It has been used to make hot sauce and to give extra flavor to vinegar to make spiced vinegar.  It is also sometimes supplied at the table for those who might wish to combine it with soy sauce, fish sauce, or vinegar to make a dipping sauce. Chili leaves (dahon ng sili) from the plant can be used in cooking as well such as in the Filipino dish tinola,

    There are non-culinary uses as well. Siling labuyo, is used in Philippine herbal remedies and as a homemade insecticide.  The chili's capsaicin content which makes it hot to the taste buds also generates therapeutic heat when prepared with coconut oil as a topical ointment for body aches; when mixed with water it can be sprayed on plants to kill and ward off insects.

    More information:
    • Hot Pepper. (n.d.). Department of Agriculture, Philippines.
    • Nagpala, Ellaine Grace L. (October 2007). A fresh look at siling labuyo. BAR Chronicle. Bureau of Agricultural Research, Philippines. 
    • Perry, Linda; Dickau, Ruth; Zarrillo, Sonia; Holst, Irene; Pearsall, Deborah M.; Piperno, Dolores R.; Berman, Mary Jane; Cooke, Richard G.; Rademaker, Kurt; Ranere, Anthony J.; Raymond, J. Scott; Sandweiss, Daniel H.; Scaramelli, Franz; Tarble, Kay; Zeidler, James A. (February 16, 2007). Starch Fossils and the Domestication and Dispersal of Chili Peppers (Capsicum spp. L.) in the Americas. Science.
    • Sokolov, Raymond. (April 1993). Why We Eat What We Eat: How Columbus Changed the Way the World Eats. Touchstone.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Bangus | Milkfish

    Milkfish, a silvery scaled fish

    Scientific Chanos chanos
    Other Giant herring

    Milkfish in the Philippines is called bangus. The scientific name of bangus is Chanos chanos. It is the sole specie in the family Chanidae in the order Gonorynchiformes in the subclass Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish).  It has a bright silvery sheen, a relatively small toothless mouth, and a single dorsal fin.  Milkfish can grow to over a meter long although the ones found in markets are generally smaller.

    It is an important aquaculture and commercial fish species.  Milkfish farming has been practiced for around 800 years and provides much of the current supply.   In 2007, milkfish made up 17% of global finfish production behind only the 40% share accounted for by Atlantic salmon.  The Philippines and Indonesia account for the vast majority of production.  In 2009, Philippine milkfish production contributed to 14.03% of Philippine aquaculture production behind seaweed (70.23%) and ahead of tilapia (10.53%).

    Philippine Bangus

    Bangus – Philippine national fish?
    Philippine waters are home to myriad fish species, many of which are not found elsewhere.  But out of all of these fish bangus has managed to capture the attention of Filipinos the most.  There are other notable fish in Filipino culture to be sure.  More popular with the masses is the inexpensive galunggong—but it has a fishy taste (malansa). The grouper or lapu-lapu (a name it shares with a national hero) on the other hand is commonly served in fine restaurants. Another prized fish among foodies is the maliputo, as is the increasingly rare ludong. But unlike bangus fish like these usually have no role in the everyday lives of people. The tasty yet relevant fish most everyone in the country can get behind is the milkfish unofficially considered by many as the Philippines' national fish.

    Marinated fried boneless bangus belly served with garlic bits slice of tomato and rice at Jollibee

    Milkfish has a distinct flavor; it is not a neutral bland white fish. Still its natural flavor is mild enough that it can be cooked in the manner of neutral white fish, but it tastes best when its flavor is selectively paired with complementary ingredients and cooking methods.  It is said that somewhat smaller milkfish taste better.  Milkfish from Dagupan/Bonuan, also have a reputation for their flavor. They can be identified by their slightly smaller and more pointed heads.

    Before cooking, the milkfish is cleaned by removing the scales and guts.  It also has many small bones that will need to be removed at some point, either in preparation or later while eating.  Still, deboning is optional for some recipes.  Fortunately the small bones are usually clustered together facilitating their removal.   The skin is often left on as it can be separated from the meat at the dining table as well or simply eaten.  A dark meat lining lies between the white meat and skin and helps to naturally separate the two.  The milkfish's belly fat has a flavorful taste.  Indeed the belly is a prized portion of the fish.  Boneless milkfish belly cuts sold in Philippine markets command a premium.

    Pre-marinated packaged frozen milkfish Sarangani Bay brand

    There are many popular Filipino milkfish recipes such as paksiw na bangus, sinigang na bangus, rellenong bangus, pinaputok na bangus, bangus sa tausi, bangus escabeche and bangus sisig.  In my view, however, the qualities of milkfish are shown to best advantage in bangus recipes where it is fried in oil to brown it and create a maillard reaction rather than steamed or baked which can leave bangus tasting somewhat limp although this can be overcome if it is accompanied in the dish by other ingredients imparting contrasting flavors and textures.  The classic—and in my book definitive—way to cook milkfish is that used in daing na bangus:  marinate in vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic and then fry to a golden brown. This cooking method is applied to other fish as well but milkfish cooked this way is especially good.  The vinegar and garlic moderate and blend with the flavor of the milkfish's belly fat without overwhelming it and the crispy bangus skin is a contrast with the tender meat.  Fried milkfish is often served with atsara or sliced tomato as a side dish or condiment.  On the other hand cooking milkfish as a paksiw or sinigang has been shown to retain more of its nutritional attributes.

    Pritong Bangus Milkfish

    Milkfish in Other Countries

    In Indonesia milkfish is called bandeng; in Taiwan 虱目魚. In Taiwanese cuisine, the belly is often used in a dish of milkfish congee.

    Nutrition Information

    According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference raw milkfish contains the following nutrients:

    Nutrient Unit Value per 100.0g # of Data Points Std. Error 85g
    Water g 70.85 2 -- 60.22
    Energy kcal 148 -- -- 126
    Energy kJ 619 -- -- 526
    Protein g 20.53 1 -- 17.45
    Total lipid (fat) g 6.73 2 -- 5.72
    Ash g 1.14 1 -- 0.97
    Carbohydrate, by difference g 0.00 -- -- 0.00
    Fiber, total dietary g 0.0 -- -- 0.0
    Calcium, Ca mg 51 1 -- 43
    Iron, Fe mg 0.32 1 -- 0.27
    Magnesium, Mg mg 30 -- -- 26
    Phosphorus, P mg 162 1 -- 138
    Potassium, K mg 292 -- -- 248
    Sodium, Na mg 72 -- -- 61
    Zinc, Zn mg 0.82 40 0.040 0.70
    Copper, Cu mg 0.034 41 0.002 0.029
    Manganese, Mn mg 0.020 -- -- 0.017
    Selenium, Se µg 12.6 -- -- 10.7
    Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 0.0 -- -- 0.0
    Thiamin mg 0.013 1 -- 0.011
    Riboflavin mg 0.054 1 -- 0.046
    Niacin mg 6.440 1 -- 5.474
    Pantothenic acid mg 0.750 -- -- 0.638
    Vitamin B-6 mg 0.423 1 -- 0.360
    Folate, total µg 16 -- -- 14
    Folic acid µg 0 -- -- 0
    Folate, food µg 16 -- -- 14
    Folate, DFE mcg_DFE 16 -- -- 14
    Vitamin B-12 µg 3.40 1 -- 2.89
    Vitamin A, RAE mcg_RAE 30 -- -- 26
    Retinol µg 30 -- -- 26
    Vitamin A, IU IU 100 -- -- 85
    Fatty acids, total saturated g 1.660 -- -- 1.411
    Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 2.580 -- -- 2.193
    Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 1.840 -- -- 1.564
    Cholesterol mg 52 1 -- 44
    Amino Acids
    Tryptophan g 0.230 -- -- 0.196
    Threonine g 0.900 -- -- 0.765
    Isoleucine g 0.946 -- -- 0.804
    Leucine g 1.669 -- -- 1.419
    Lysine g 1.886 -- -- 1.603
    Methionine g 0.608 -- -- 0.517
    Cystine g 0.220 -- -- 0.187
    Phenylalanine g 0.802 -- -- 0.682
    Tyrosine g 0.693 -- -- 0.589
    Valine g 1.058 -- -- 0.899
    Arginine g 1.229 -- -- 1.045
    Histidine g 0.604 -- -- 0.513
    Alanine g 1.242 -- -- 1.056
    Aspartic acid g 2.102 -- -- 1.787
    Glutamic acid g 3.065 -- -- 2.605
    Glycine g 0.986 -- -- 0.838
    Proline g 0.726 -- -- 0.617
    Serine g 0.838 -- -- 0.712

    More information:


    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Chips – List of Philippine Chips

    Philippine chips one usually finds in supermarkets are made from flour or corn. While there have been locally made potato chips on the market as well, it is only relatively recently that Filipino brands have produced somewhat decent potato chips. One can also find native Philippine snacks like banana chips, chicharon, and dried mango, pineapple, and papaya chips, but they're usually found in a different section of the supermarket or, maybe along with more esoteric fare like coconut chips and kamote chips, in a specialty shop.

    Universal Robina Corporation

    Jack 'n Jill
    • Chippy
    • Chiz Curls
    • Mr. Chips
    • Nova
    • Piattos
    • Pic-A
    • Sea Crunch
    • Spuds
    • Taquitos
    • Tostillas
    • Vcut
    Granny Goose
    • Kornets
    • Tortillos

    • Kirei
    • Marty's Cracklin'
    • Oheya!
    • Oishi Prawn Crackers
    • Oishi Potato Chips
    • Oishi Ridges

    • Clover Chips

    • Cheese Ball
    • Cheese Ring
    • Labzter
    • Snaku
    • Sweet Corn
    • Tempura

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Philippine Fish Species - List of Common Fish in the Philippines

    A list of Philippine fish names in English and Filipino (Tagalog), with some scientific names and fish pictures to help identify particular Filipino fish species found in local fish markets:

    Other Fish:
    • Ataba - archerfish 
    • Balo - needlefish
    • Bolador - flying fish (e.g. Cypselurus opisthopus)  
    • Kansusuit - garfish  
    • Maming - wrasse
    • Paru-parong dagat - butterflyfish

    Mollusks, Crustaceans, and other Shellfish:
    • Alimasag - crab Portunidae spp. (e.g. blue swimmer crab, Portunus pelagicus), coral crab (Charybdis feriatus)
    • Alimango - mud crab
      • Putian / bulik - Indo-Pacific swamp crab / mangrove king crab (Scylla serrata)
      • Pulahan - orange mud crab (Scylla olivacea)
    • Alupihang-dagat - mantis shrimp  
    • Banagan - spiny lobster (e.g. Panulirus ornatus)
    • Canoos / hibya - cuttlefish
    • Curacha - spanner crab / red frog crab (Ranina ranina)
    • Diwal - Pacific angelwing clam (Pholas orientalis)
    • Halaan - clam (e.g. Manila clam / Japanese carpet shell, Ruditapes philippinarum)
      • Tulya - Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea previously also known as Corbicula manilensis)
    • Hipon - shrimp (e.g. whiteleg shrimp, Penaeus vannamei)
      • Swahe / suahe - endeavor prawn (e.g. red endeavor prawn / greasy back shrimp, Metapenaeus ensis)
    • Kuhol - snail (Pila luzonica)
    • Pitik-pitik - slipper lobster (e.g. Thenus orientalis)
    • Pugita - octopus
    • Pusit - squid
      lumot squid in a round plastic container
      Pusit lumot
      • Pusit Bisaya - smaller pink-speckled squid (Indian squid - Loligo duvauceli [?])
      • Pusit lumot - larger dark-speckled squid (bigfin reef squid - Sepioteuthis lessoniana [?])
    • Sugpo - prawn (e.g. Penaeus monodon)
    • Susô - snail
    • Tahong - mussel (e.g. Perna viridis)
    • Talaba - oyster (e.g. Crassostrea iredalei)
    • Talangka - shore crab (Varuna litterata)
    • Tuyom - sea urchin
    • Ulang - giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), crayfish, lobster

    Other Sea Creatures and Aquatic Species:
    • Arosep / lato - sea grape seaweed (Caulerpa lentillifera, Caulerpa racemosa
    • Balatan - sea cucumber
    • Balyena - whale
    • Bulate - sea worm
    • Butanding - whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
    • Dikya - jellyfish 
    • Guso - seaweed (e.g. Eucheuma spp.)
    • Pagi - ray
    • Pating - shark


    In the Philippines fish are called isda.  There are many varieties and kinds of fish.  The country's tropical climate and coral reefs make its waters located near the center of the Coral Triangle among the richest in marine life anywhere providing a bounty of fresh Philippine seafood and an assortment of tropical fish.  According to some estimates 5% of the world's reef area is in Philippine waters and the marine fish in the area represent 20% of the total marine fish in the world.

    Fishing is an important source of livelihood for many Filipinos. In 1998 around 3% of the country's labor force was involved in the Philippine fishing industry which contributed to about 3.6% of the GDP composition.  Commercial fishing operations produce most of the catch but a growing percentage comes from aquaculture / mariculture.  An ordinary Filipino consumes around 98.6 grams of fish or fish products a day making it the primary source of protein in the Filipino diet. The Philippines being a predominantly Christian nation, fish are especially popular during Lent.

    The best time to buy fish is early in the morning.  Philippine fishing boats bring their catch to places like the Navotas Fish Port Complex (the largest in the country)  while it is still dark.  From there fish are distributed to local markets.
    Maya-maya, samaral, and pampano - Philippine fish
    Maya-maya, Samaral, and Pampano

    Naming of Philippine Fish

    Filipino fish names can get confusing very quickly.  Different names can be given to the same fish and a name can be applied to multiple fish—and that's just in the same dialect and region.  Given the various Philippine languages and the disparate islands comprising the archipelago, custom and usage varies and contradictions frequently crop up.  In Metro Manila, Tagalog is the dominant language but because of the influx of people from the provinces, local names and regional names from other parts of the country like the Visayas or Ilocos or even other Tagalog provinces with their own name variants are sometimes used in Manila wet markets.

    Alumahan - Philippine fish

    Hasa-hasa also called kabayas - Philippine fish
    Alumahan and Hasa-hasa

    Alumahan can apparently be used in some places to refer to Rastrelliger brachysoma as well as Rastrelliger kanagurta but my local fishmonger will say that is simply wrong and that the two are distinctOn the other hand he will accept that different Philippine fish species can each be called salay-salay.  Kalapato is an alternative name not only for certain salay-salay but also talakitok.


    Some sources seem to indicate that talakitok and maliputo largely refer to the same species, but others make a distinction. According to one explanation, talakitok grows in seawater while maliputo grows in freshwater. Maliputo seems to have a reputation for being a good food fish comparable to that of the maya-maya that talakitok does not.

    Maliputo and Maya-maya

    Lapad translates as wide in Filipino and is often used to describe and differentiate Caesio cuning from Pterocaesio digrammadalagang bukid (lapad) and dalagang bukid (bilog) respectively.  But lapad is also used as a common name for various short flat and wide sardinellas like Sardinella albella, Sardinella brachysoma, and Sardinella fimbriata; although in those cases it may also be to differentiate them from tamban, narrower and rounder sardines.  Even though a source I'm looking at says lawlaw and silinyasi refer to different sardinella, I wouldn't be surprised if in practice the terms along with lapad and tunsoy are actually being used interchangeably for the similar looking fish species.  Tawilis is also used for these sardinella but it is a name probably most properly reserved for the Philippine freshwater fish specie endemic to Lake Taal.  Sardines are popular fish for canning, smoking and drying.  Tinapa is the Filipino term for smoked fish while tuyo is the Filipino word for dry and is also used for dried fish. The town of Rosario, Cavite previously called Salinas (derived from sal Spanish for salt) is known for its tinapa and tuyo, so smoked or dried fish are sometimes referred to as salinas.

    Danggit - Philippine fish

    According to sources danggit refer to rabbitfish, spinefoots, and members of the family Siganidae in general and can thus be applied to samaral.  But in my local wet market at least danggit refers to what looks like mottled spinefoot (Siganus fuscescens) and samaral refers pretty specifically to orange-spotted spinefoot (Siganus guttatus).  [Which may also be goldlined spinefoot (Siganus lineatus).  The two species seem to interbreed and may be one and the same.]   Then again some consider the samaral a malaga while others seem to consider them distinctly different fish.  Elsewhere in the Philippines, members of the Siganidae family can also be called kitang; while in my area kitang is the name for scats which are in the family Scatophagidae.

    Kitang and Tulingan - Philippine fish
    Kitang and Tulingan

    The names tulingan and tambakol, both often referring to bluish-tinged tuna, are sometimes interchanged with one another or used to refer to tuna in general.  But tulingan usually refers to smaller tuna while tambakol gets applied to larger ones. Bariles is another common fish name, taken from the Spanish word for barrel, that is used for large tuna. Tatampal is one name used for flounder but has also been seen to refer to mantis shrimp.

    Restaurants and Dishes

    In paluto restaurants with fresh or live fish to select from, maya-maya and lapu-lapu are popular premium fish choices.  A Philippine fish recipe that would work well with these fish is to cook them escabeche.  Red tilapia, sometimes presented as "kingfish", has also been observed in some fish and seafood restaurants.  It's a possibly misleading fish since its red pigmentation may lead those unfamiliar with it to mistake it for maya-maya, and "kingfish" is a designation that has been used for tanigue, but red tilapia is not as highly valued as either of those fish.  Red tilapia is a hybrid fish created by fish farmers.  Tilapia is an introduced species in the country grown in fish cages and fish ponds largely used in aquaculture because of its fast reproduction leading it to be called "chicken of the sea".  

    Red tilapia

    At restaurants where fresh or live fish are not available, the usual unspecified nameless white fish in fillet form that has apparently become the default is the so-called "cream dory" also called "river cobbler".  This is actually a fish from the family Pangasius, imported and usually described elsewhere as Vietnamese catfish with the names swai, basa, or tra referring to different species.  At Filipino restaurants bangus is usually available somewhere in the menu.  Blue marlin also pops up with some frequency as does gindara.  Bacalao is a term taken from Spanish that is used for cod.  Salmon although imported and more expensive has also become popular.  


    Although the Philippine fish identified on the main list are believed to be sold in markets one needs to take care with unfamiliar fish.  One species may be safe while another in the same family may not be.  Even among those fish that are widely eaten some need to be prepared or handled a certain way prior to cooking and eating for them to be safe.  Scombroid fish poisoning with symptoms similar to an allergic reaction is associated with tunas, mackerels, mahi-mahi, and marlin that have spoiled resulting in the release of histamines which are unaffected by cooking.  There are also reports of ciguatera poisoning with some species.  Red tide toxins are a danger related to harmful algal blooms.  The Philippine government issues red tide alerts from time to time to warn about the harvesting, buying, selling and eating of seafood from certain areas.

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