The pungent flavor of ginger stew and the savory taste of native fresh water fish—combine this and we have the unique, delightful tang of the native cusine, “Pesang Isda.” This is a highly nutritious recipe popular in the Tagalog regions.
Don’t pre-judge this Tagalog cuisine. Many disagree with the fish usually used for this recipe. It is often cooked using fresh water “mudfish” that once loitered freely around rice paddies and streams and rivers in the region. Today, mudfish or “dalag” are cultured in fish ponds or caught fresh from clean rivers, streams, or rice paddies—which is a rarity. For those wary about mudfish, the fish for this cuisine may be substituted with milkfish or “bangus,” or “tilapia,” another fresh water fish for another recipe variation.
We need the following ingredients for this native recipe: two cloves of minced garlic, one medium-sized and thinly sliced ginger, one quarter of medium-sized onion, one large mudfish (“dalag”) cleaned and cut into serving size, two cups water used for washing rice or ”pinaghugasan ng bigas”, two fish broth cubes, two bunches Tagalog cabbage chopped in big sizes, two stalks green onions, and pepper to taste. With these ingredients in hand, we’re ready to cook this cuisine.
In cooking this recipe the following is the procedure: sauté the garlic, ginger and onions till light brown. Add the fish and rice wash. Drop the fish cubes to bring out the taste of the savory mudfish, and then bring to a boil. When the fish is cooked and tender, add the pepper, cabbage and green onions. Wait for the vegetables to cook, then serve hot. This cuisine serves 5 persons.
Some “pesang dalag” cuisine variations add in a lot more vegetables than are found in this recipe. Vegetables like green leafy “pechay” Baguio, ordinary “pechay,” potatoes, or “malunggay” leaves. Last but not least, this Tagalog cuisine has a special sauce or side dish that makes it doubly stylish. We need a cup of tofu putty and a few garlic and onions for the side dish of this cuisine. To prepare this added recipe, sauté a cup of tofu putty, or “miso” with a few minced garlic and chopped onions. When light brown add in the cup of tofu putty. The “pesa” is eaten with teaspoons of the tofu now and then.
The Tagalog native cuisine, “Pesang Dalag” or Fresh Water Fish in Ginger Stew, is a rare recipe of fish and healthy veggies that is cooked mostly by pure Tagalogs.