Bangus or Milkfish ?
The national fish of the Philippines, the Bangus or ‘Milkfish’ or ‘Chanos chanos’ in English, is part of the Chanidae family that lives around the Pacific and Indian Ocean. A popular fish in Southeast Asia, these have a streamlined and symmetrical appearance with a fairly large caudal fin, and can grow around 1 meter or more in length. Considered to be one of the oldest species of farmed dish, there are about 5 extinct species of family under it. Still, this is one of the most cultivated fish, found almost everywhere, sold in wet markets, grocery stores, marketing it as fresh, frozen, smoked, or canned. But where did they come from and why is it called milkfish?
A short Introduction
The Bangus (with the scientific name ‘Chanos chanos’) or the english name Milkfish are among the last remaining species of the Chanidae family. This fish dates back to the Early Cretaceous period where it roamed, and is still found along the Pacific and Indian Oceans for more than 140 million years. It is an adaptable, sturdy and tough fish that can survive even in confined places, making them easy to cultivate and breed in fish farms. They have silvery scales with the top having a slight tint of blue, and a white bottom, a color combination which gave it its name ‘Milkfish’, is extremely boney, and have a wide forged tail, this species usually ranges around 17 to 35 pounds.
A popular dish in many Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan. And they have been breeding these fishes for 500 years, raising around 1.1 million tons each year, helping it get out of the risk of being endangered. An oily fish that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids with only one problem, it is quite troublesome to debone. You can find wet markets and grocery stores selling them fresh or boneless. It has a distinct mild taste that makes it complimentary to many dishes from, fried, sautéed, grilled, in soups, even in raw salads like ‘kinilaw’ where the raw fish is sliced to chunks and mixed with vinegar, ginger, spices, and many more milkfish recipes.
Bangus Benefits (milkfish Benefits)
This delicacy is not only yummy on its own, fried with a seasoning of salt and pepper, mixed in soups or rolled with fillings. There are so many recipes to try that you won’t get tired of eating this versatile fish. One serving of this fish has 199 calories, A great way to add omega-3 fatty acids and many other vitamins into you diet to get all the benefits such as:
- Helps develop the mind, reduces depression and slows dementia which you get as you age.
- Prevents heart diseases, the fish is recommended to be cooked steamed or boiled instead of fried.
- Lowers cholesterol, these are high in unsaturated fats.
- Reduces high blood pressure and hypertension.
- High in protein and calcium, making them good for people who are into bodybuilding.
- Maintains eye health and heals wounds faster by having Vitamin A and Iron content.
- Great for pregnant women, to increase breast milk quality and quantity.
Bangus or Milkfish in The Philippines
Milkfish in Tagalog ‘Bangus’ is considered by many as the national fish, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts have denied that this is not a case, nor written in the Philippines law. Even if that is the case, you will notice an abundance of Bangus fish recipes in Filipino cuisine.
Philippines and India are the largest exporter of milkfish, it’s even celebrated in Dagupan city, Philippines every April. The Bangus Festival consists of a 10-day celebration of sport competitions, street parties, culinary contests and demonstrations, and street parties where dancers wear colorful traditional costumes, many bangus or fish shaped decorations and props. Aside from the fish being celebrated, you can also find many options from fresh, demoned, smoked, to being sold as canned bangus sardines, bottled in flavored oil, both that just news to be heated out of the can, ready to be eaten with cups of rice. here are some milkfish recipes:
- Bangus with Pineapple, a sweet and colorful, savory way to cook milkfish, it has a mix of the fish fried then simmered with a sweet and sour red sauce made of pineapple tidbits, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and seasonings.
- Paksiw na Bangus, the quickest and one of the easiest ways to enjoy milkfish. Just a mix of the fish cooked with aromatics, a few vegetables like eggplant, bitter gourd, some green chilli for some spice, and dish sauce for a bit of a tang. You’ll be shocked with how this turns out.
- Bangus with tausi, an easy mix of fish simmered in a sauce of black beans and tomatoes. Making a slight fusion of Chinese and FIlipino cuisine.
- Rellenong bangus, has a unique and tedious process of separating the skin, deboning, mixing the meat with a stuffing mix, then putting it all back together, trying to keep it secure then frying it to completion. A very much worth it dish.
- Bangus steak, Bangus fried with a savory sauce and a sprinkle or two of salt and pepper. This showcases the natural flavors of the Milkfish.
- Bangus sisig, sisig is one of the best ways to enjoy this fish, made easier if you use the deboned version. From pork sisig to the healthier Bangus sisig version. A foolproof recipe.
Regardless of the way the Bangus fish is prepared, you’ll be sure to enjoy it in any way it’s been cooked. From easy to do recipes to more complex, or just completely replaces any fish recipe with this firm, distinctly mild and sweet flavored fish.