Several weeks ago, my husband bought a pack of fried tawilis in a weekend market. Tawilis is a small fish (about six- to seven-inches long) found only in Taal Lake in Batangas.
They have become extremely rare, and thus there are many fake “tawilis” now being sold in the market.
What makes them—the real tawilis—so delicious is that they can be eaten from head to tail without fear of swallowing sharp fish bones. When fried, they can be as crunchy as chicharon—and as addictive, too.
They can be served both as appetizer (with vinegar dip) and as viand, paired with rice and tomato-onion salad.
The tawilis from the market were still warm when my husband brought them home. Since I had already eaten lunch, I reserved them for the following day.
To make the tawilis crisp again, I refried them in hot oil. They tasted just as good. The key is to make sure the oil is very hot before you fry the tawilis.
Also, do not fry them too long so they don’t become tough.
Since it’s still the Lenten season, Fridays are still abstinence-from-meat days. This recipe for twice-fried tawilis will certainly keep you from eating meat these remaining Fridays of Lent.
½ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
½ kilo fried tawilis (available in weekend markets)
1 – 2 c corn oil
Combine the cornstarch and salt, then dredge the tawilis in the mixture. Heat the corn oil until it’s sizzling hot. Carefully drop the tawilis in small batches in the hot oil and fry them until they’re crisp.
With a slotted spoon, remove the tawilis from the oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve immediately with a vinegar dip or with rice and a tomato salad.
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