One of the dishes that make frequent appearances on our dining table is paksiw na bisugo. When I was a little girl I remember thinking what a waste to cook such a pretty fish, this bisugo. Baby pink and a bright yellow streak running along its underbelly, how can that be not pretty? Why are we not keeping it in an aquarium instead? For some reason, I found it more acceptable to eat the gray-colored ones. Gray fish is for eating. Pink fish, no.
I outgrew that sentiment eventually and would grow to like eating paksiw na bisugo. Except for removing the gills and all the bitter inner parts, we would pretty much keep fish whole when cooking, even the scales. I remove the scales when it's time to eat. With a spoon, I would start from the skin under the scales near the tail then I'd peel towards the head. Voila! All the scales comes clean off.
I've become quite an expert skinning this fish I grew up refusing to eat.
Paksiw na Bisugo
2 whole pieces of bisugo, cleaned
an inch of ginger, peeled and crushed
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1 medium onion, sliced
talbos ng sili (young leaves of chili plant)
salt and pepper, to taste
Saute garlic, onion, and ginger in about two tablespoons of cooking oil. Pour in vinegar and water and bring to a boil.
Put in the bisugo. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the talbos ng sili. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes.