Bangus or milkfish farming has been in the Philippines for more than a hundred years. As well as in the brackish waters and the coastal areas of Calatagan, San Juan and other coastal towns of Batangas that are into the culture of the well-liked table meal.
It has a scientific name of Chanos chanos and very much associated with catfishes and carps.
I personally had a hand in culturing the fish, which reminded me of their robust nature. They are sensitive, strong and quick. It could easily adjust and grow well in the restricted settings of a fishpond. The trait that this fish have can be hardly found in other fish species.
During that time, we get our fingerlings from the wild. They are usually caught from the mouths of river, or from clear coastal and estuarine waters with abundant phytoplankton. Unlike today were you can get them in hatcheries.
The fingerlings, which are 10 to 17 millimeters long, are then transferred and stock in grow-out ponds where they are looked after and fed with blue algae. Furthermore, for the bangus to grow faster, breadcrumbs or commercial feeds are given to boost their growth.
The milkfish is a warm water species and is best cultured with water temperature of 22 to 35 degrees C. And a recommended water salinity of 18 to 30 parts per thousand with pH level of 6.8 to 8.7.
In order for the fish to grow appropriately, proper water management is a must. Changing of water during high tide plays a vital role in the fish growth. And you will have a fine time watching the fish when it's time to open the water gate for new fresh water. The milkfish starts to swim towards the gate and jump as new water rushes into the pond. It is a refreshing scene to see, especially when they have attained a marketable size.
Commercial milkfish can be harvested when they reach 8 to 14 inches in length. Although some may grow as large as 18 inches and will definitely find its way into the market with a better price.
The bangus is a scrumptious fish. It is a favorite because of its soft, sweet milky taste that melts in the mouth, a reason why it is known as milkfish. This makes the fish an all-time favorite in Batangas dinner table.
The only problem with the fish is that it has lots of needle like fish bone, and one solution is to have your milkfish deboned.
Moreover it has a countless ways in cooking the most liked fish. A very common way is the sinigang na bangus. (stewed milkfish). The dish consists of bunch of different vegetables with a soup seasoned with unripe tamarind.
Other delicious recipes for the milkfish are Rellenong Bangus (stuffed milkfish), the must try Milkfish Belly A la Pobre, Grilled Milkfish and Paksiw na Bangus (milkfish stewed in vinegar), wherein an old lady Aling Maring, from the fishing town of Calatagan shared her simple but delicious recipe.
Aling Maring's Paksiw na Bangus Recipe (milkfish stewed in vinegar)
Ingredients: a least 700 grams bangus fish, 5 pieces black or green pepper, 1 clove of garlic, two dashes of rock salt, 2 cups sukang puti (white vinegar) and a piece of ginger.
Procedure: Clean the fish with running water. Cut the fish in 3 pieces and apply rock salt and set aside for few minutes. In a casserole add the fish, ginger, garlic, black or green pepper and pour the 2 cups of white vinegar. Let boil, add the water and lower the heat until the fish is cooked.
Presto! And enjoy the Paksiw na Bangus meal top with fried garlic rice and fried eggplant.