Milk fish is a warm water fish which is largely found in the Indo-pacific ocean belt. The fish is alternatively known by names such as chanos, bangos and bandeng. The fossil study indicates that the fish first appeared on earth atleast 65.5 million years ago. It is usually caught young and then cultured privately in waterbodies near home.
This fish is considered an important food product in Southeast Asia, India, and Philippines, where it is honored as a “National Fish”.
It has a white flesh and a flavor profile which cannot be termed as too strong or too mild. Many Filipinos consider it an inferior fish than other fishes. The fish has thin dark layer beneath its skin and a dark strip which runs down the center. The darker parts are milder in comparison to other body parts.
Methods of Cooking
The fish has firm skin, and it can be cooked in many ways. The fish is mostly cooked with its skin because it helps to avoid crumbling of flesh during the cooking time. The fish is never cooked as a whole. Following are some of the popular ways of cooking this fish.
- Frying – The fish is filleted and then dusted with little flour prior to frying in a pan with any suitable oil. The skin helps to avoid the flesh from sticking in the oven.
- Poaching – The fish filets are cooked in a poaching liquid or court bouillon with their skins. The skin is usually slipped off before serving.
- Deep Frying – The baby bangus is usually deep fried like a sardine fish and is commonly served with its head and tail.
- Baking – The fish fillets are either seasoned with spices or left in marinade for a long time or dipped in the batter comprising of different spices and baked in the oven until its skin becomes crispy. The fish can be served as a snack with a tangy sauce.
- Stuffed Bangus – The fish fillets are marinated in the soy sauce and topped with the mixture comprising ingredients like onion, garlic, carrot, raisins, tomatoes, egg, Worcestershire sauce, vetsin ( monosodium glutamate), salt, bell pepper, flour, and cooking oil. The fish is wrapped in the banana foil and fried in the oil until it becomes flaky. This preparation is then topped with spring onions, tomato, parsley and served with catsup. This is a very typical preparation from Thailand.
- Baked Bangus – This is a very easy fish preparation and it best served as an appetizer during the special occasions. The fish fillets are topped with ingredients like ginger, soya sauce, onion, garlic, calamansi, tomato, and salt-pepper and baked in the clay oven or regular oven after wrapping in a banana leaf. The fish is served with extra soy sauce.