Ayungin: Jose Rizal’s Favorite Fish

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One of Tutubi’s fondest childhood memories were the days he spent fishing at dawn in Laguna de Bay with his late maternal grandfather, Dada Julian, where they collected shrimps trapped in simple contractions made of small plants and bushes as well caught the small, tasty yet pricey ayungin (silver perch), using improvised fishing rods with small shrimps as baits.

Ayungin (Scientific name: Leiopotherapon plumbeus), a freshwater fish species endemic in the Philippines, is omnivorous and has a silver color and small scales. It used to be plentiful in Laguna Lake and other freshwater bodies but overfishing by local fishermen coupled with the slow demise of the once pristine lake have now made it scarce. It is said to be the tastiest freshwater fish in the Philippines (the most expensive fish is the ludong, caught in the shores off Cagayan) is endemic to Laguna de Bay and was introduced to San Pablo City’s Sampaloc Lake in the 1950s, then later to Taal Lake in the 70s.

Today, seeing ayungin in the public market of Paete is a rare sight, Tutubi buys them as they’re unloaded fresh by fishermen on the shores of Laguna de Bay, a place locals call Wawa, at the point where Paete River (creek) meets Laguna Lake.

In Rizal province, particularly in the town of Binangonan, silver perch is caught commercially then made into dried fish (daing na ayungin) whose taste can rival the famous danggit of Cebu. It costs about P200/kilo in Rizal and Laguna and can go as high as P500 per kilo in Manila.

How to eat Ayungin, kamayan style:

Hold the fish with one hand then remove the upper and lower fins. Using your fingers, rub both sides as if you’re pinching the fish from tail to head to remove the scales and expose the meat. Partake of the meat and roe, if present. Be careful of small fish bones (para di ma-tinik)

Jose Rizal Trivia:

The ayungin is the Philippine national hero’s favorite fish where Jose Rizal reportedly partook the fish, served in different ways, with hefty servings of rice. This was also narrated in his acerbic novel Noli Me Tangere where he wrote “the ayungin is good for sinigang; leave the biya for the escabeche, the dalag and the buan-buan for pesa.”

Rizal has a very good reason why the ayungin is his favorite fish!


Pork Humba…

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2 lbs pork belly

1 cup Pineapple juice

1 large onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons salted black beans

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 ½ tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup dried banana blossoms

2 pieces dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon whole peppercorn

Watch the cooking video:

Cooking Procedure:

1. Heat the cooking pot then brown the pork belly

2. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft

3. Put-in the soy sauce, peppercorn, bay leaves

4. Pour-in the pineapple juice and let boil. Simmer until the pork is tender (add water as needed)

5. Add the vinegar and wait for the mixture to re-boil. Simmer for 3 minutes

6. Spoon-in the salted black beans and brown sugar then simmer for 5 minutes

7. Add the dried banana blossoms and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes

8.Serve  and enjoy!



Chicken Inasal!

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2 lbs chicken cut into serving pieces


2 tablespoons ginger, minced

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

3/4 cup lemongrass, chopped

1 cup coconut vinegar

1/2 cup lemon or calamansi juice

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup lemon soda (softdrink)

1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper

Basting Sauce:

3 tablespoons annatto oil (atsuete oil)

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon or calamansi juice

Watch the cooking video:

Cooking procedure:

1. In a freezer bag or large bowl, combine chicken, lemongrass, salt, ground black pepper, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon-lime soda, and lemon juice.

2. Stir or shake the mixture until every ingredient is well incorporated. Marinade for 1 to 3 hours.

3. In a bowl, combine margarine, annatto oil, salt, and lemon juice then stir. Set aside.

4. Grill the chicken while basting generous amount of the margarine mixture.

5. Transfer the grilled chicken to a serving plate.

6. Serve with sinamak. Share and enjoy!




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  • 1 lb pork loin, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 pcs long green pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 oz pork blood

Watch the cooking video:

Cooking Procedure

  1. Sauté the garlic and onion in a pan
  2. Add the pork and sauté for about 5 mins
  3. If you like it to be more tasty, you may add 1 pork or beef cube followed by a cup or two of water.
  4. Simmer until the water is almost gone to tenderize the meat
  5. Add the pork blood and mix well. Let this simmer for 10 minutes
  6. Add the vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Put the brown sugar in followed by the long green pepper and simmer for 2 minutes
  8. Serve hot!

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Number of servings: 4




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1 ½ lbs chicken, cut into serving pieces

1 ½ cups uncooked rice

34 ounces water (about 1 liter)

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup onion, minced

4 pieces hard boiled eggs

1 cup scallions (green onions), minced

2 knobs ginger, julienned

3 tbsp safflower(kasubha)

1 piece chicken cube (bouillon)

1 piece lemon or 4 pieces calamansi

2 tbsp cooking oil

Watch the cooking video:

Cooking Procedure:

1. In a pot, heat the cooking oil then saute the garlic, onion, and ginger

2. Dash-in some ground black pepper

3. Add the chicken cube and cook until the cube melts

4. Put-in the chicken and cook until outer layer color turns golden brown

5. Add the fish sauce and uncooked rice then mix and cook for a few minutes

6. Pour-in the water and bring to a boil

7. Stir occasionally and simmer until the rice is fully cooked (about 30 to 40 minutes)

8. Put-in the hard boiled eggs

9. Add the safflower for additional color and aroma

10. Serve hot with toasted garlic, minced scallions, and kalamansi!

How to cook the toasted garlic (Tustadong bawang)


1/2 cup garlic, minced

1/2 cup cooking oil


1. Pour the oil in a pan then turn on the stove

2. Put-in the garlic immediately (make sure that the oil is not hot enough to fry the garlic)

3. Adjust the heat of the stove to “low” and wait until the garlic turns golden brown (or medium brown if desired)

4. Drain the oil and place in a bowl with paper towel or tissue

5. Use when needed



Sweet and Sour Pork

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  • 1 lb pork loin, cubed
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 piece raw egg, beaten
  • 2 cups cooking oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 medium sized red onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, sliced diagonally
  • 2 servings of sweet and sour sauce (see ingredients and cooking procedure below)

Sweet and Sour Sauce


  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 5 teaspoons of water

Cooking Procedure

  1. Combine the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, and soy sauce in a bowl.
Mix the combined ingredients using a balloon whisk or fork.
Heat a saucepan then pour-in the sugar-ketchup-vinegar-soy sauce mixture. Stir once in a while and bring to a boil.
Pour-in the cornstarch diluted in water then continue stirring until the texture becomes thick.
Turn of the heat and transfer the sweet and sour sauce to a sauce bowl then serve.

Watch the cooking video:

Cooking Procedure

  1. Place the pork loin in a bowl then combine the soy sauce (you may also add salt if desired). Marinade for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the cooking oil in a pan then apply heat.
  3. Combine the flour and cornstarch in a bowl then mix until both ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. Dip the marinated pork in beaten egg then on the flour and cornstarch mixture.
  5. Deep fry the pork (coated with cornstarch and flour) for 10 minutes or until the color turns medium brown. Set aside.
  6. Heat a separate pan then pour-in the sweet and sour sauce  and water then let boil.
  7. Add the carrots and simmer for 3 minutes.
  8. Put-in the onions and bell pepper (green and red) and simmer for 4 minutes (add extra water as needed).
  9. Add the deep-fried pork loin and stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
  10. Serve Hot with Steamed Rice!

Sweet And Sour Tilapia…

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1 pc whole Tilapia

1 tbsp garlic

1/2 cup vinegar

1 cup bell pepper (red and green)

1 cup cooking oil

1 medium sized onion,chopped

1 thumbs ginger, cut into strips

2 cups water

3 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 small carrot, cut into strips

Watch the cooking video:

Cooking Procedure:

1.Fry the Tilapia

1.1 Place the cooking oil in the pan and apply heat.
1.2 When the oil is hot enough, put the fish in the pan.
1.3 When the immersed side of the fish is brown and crispy, flip the fish to let the other side cook.
1.4 Once the fish is fully cooked, remove from pan and set aside

2. Prepare the sauce

2.1 In a clean pan, saute the garlic, onion, carrots, ginger, and bell pepper (red and green)
2.2 Add 2 cups of water and simmer for 5 mins
2.3 Put-in the tomato paste, sugar, and vinegar then mix thoroughly
2.4 Add-in the cornstarch to thicken the sauce (make sure to dilute the cornstarch in 1/2 cup water before adding it in)

3. Pour the sauce on top of the Tilapia.

4. Serve and Enjoy!



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