Baked Milkfish (Baked Bangús)
- 1 Milkfish
- 1 Tomato
- 1 Onion
- 2 Serrano Peppers
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1 1/2 inch Fresh Ginger
- 1/4 cup Cilantro optional
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Calimansi or Lemon
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/2 cup Vinegar
Make the Pico de Gallo/Dipping Sauce
- Roughly chop the tomato, onion, serrano peppers, garlic, ginger, and cilantro. Mix together and set aside about 1/3 of it in a bowl.
- In the bowl with the 1/3 of the pico mixture, add in the calimansi, soy sauce, and vinegar to your liking.
Prepare the Fish
- Set the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Clean and scale the milkfish. If you buy it from an Asian groecery store, they may be able to do this for you!
- Add salt and pepper to both sides of the fish.
- Fill the bottom side of the fish with most of the pico mixture, then wrap it entirely in foil.
Bake the Fish
- Put the milkfish into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour.
- Afterwards, take off the foil and broil the fish for another 15 minutes to crisp the skin.
- Let it cool down and serve with warm white rice.
- Milkfish have a lot of bones. The best way is to eat it with your hands.
As a wee Filipino boy, I grew up with fish in the weekly rotation of meals. Milkfish is a huge part of the staple foods for Filipinos, due to it’s abundance in the oceans of Southeast Asia. Because of this, of course my parents made it often, because it was something they grew up with and certainly because it’s affordable.
As a picky eating child, I despised most fish due to the smell, like Salmon and especially Tuyo for breakfast. I do miss those days walking out of the house smelling like a fish out of a fryer ready to take on the next school day though… Anyways, despite my picky childhood eating habits, I ate the milkfish my parents cooked in the oven every time. It didn’t taste excessively salty or anything, and was delicious with the stuffed vegetables.
The mild flavor of the milkfish was appealing to me, especially when I dunked it in soy sauce and calamansi (being picky, I’ve never liked vinegar). Not only that, but because it has so many bones, it was appropriate to eat with my hands. This isn’t that crazy since Filipinos eat with their hands (kamayan). Also, I don’t ever recall my Grandma Bingo ever using utensils unless it was needed, like soup…
But I’ll always remember walking by the oven and seeing the fish wrapped in foil, excited for dinner. And for that reason, I still make it today while trying to be an adult.
The recipe is the same one I ate as kid, with the peppers as an extra. I’ve picked up a desire for spicy food, or some sort of spice in almost every dish I eat, so I opted for serrano peppers. They blend well with the onions and tomato, and they provide a perfect kick.
If you decide to make this, you can get a whole milkfish from an Asian grocery store like Seafood City or 99 Ranch, where they will clean the fish for you! As for the calamansi, if you can’t find any, lemon is a pretty good alternative.
Got Milk?-fish. If not, go get one today, pile on that rice, and dive straight in with your hands!