After all the extravagant meals of the holiday season, it’s time to return to simpler food.
One of my favorite post-Christmas dishes is the rustic tinapang bangus, or smoked milkfish. We usually buy our tinapa in Malabon, where it’s a town specialty. Fat, succulent and with a thick layer of soft belly, Malabon tinapang bangus is truly a gourmet’s delight.
A few years ago, my friend Mayette gave me a recipe to make this native delicacy even more delectable. Instead of just serving it with chopped tomatoes and onions, she stuffs the bangus with tomatoes, onions and chopped salted eggs. Then she bakes the stuffed bangus in the oven for several minutes.
I’ve tried her recipe a few times and have been amazed at how festive it makes the humble tinapa. The aroma that the bangus exudes after being cooked this way is so appetizing and mouth-watering.
Here’s the recipe, for all the readers who want a return to simpler meals.
1 large tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish)
2 salted eggs, chopped
1-2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped wansuy leaves (optional)
For the dip (optional):
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Open the bangus on one side. Mix together the eggs, tomatoes, onions and wansuy leaves. Spoon the mixture inside the bangus, arranging it evenly throughout the inside of the bangus.
Close the bangus and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Arrange the bangus in a heat-proof dish (such as Pyrex or baking tray) and cook in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and unwrap the bangus. Transfer to a serving dish. If desired, serve with a dip of soy sauce and calamansi.
If the stuffing is too plenty to fit inside the bangus, sauté the extra stuffing in a pan then serve it on the side.
You can also cook the bangus in a turbo broiler. After wrapping the bangus in aluminum foil, heat it in a turbo broiler at 350ºF (180ºC) for 15-20 minutes.