Inun-unan sa Sarap
galunggong (tagalog), GG, mackerel scad, bodboron (cebu), marot (negros). although GG is not the national fish of the Philippines, it has the distinction of being a national barometer of economic movement in the country.
the price of marot is closely monitored in the market by the national government agencies as an indication of whether other basic commodities are increasing in value. bodboron is popular because of its abundance in philippine waters and is considered to be a staple food in most filipino homes. well except for donya jambelina who doesn't even know the price of galunggong. talk about clueless.
fresh galunggong grilled with plain salt and pepper is a favorite in beach outings with its oily sweet flesh that goes well with plain rice and a dipping dish of kalamansi, soy sauce and chili. as a child, i remember my mom arranging mid sized GG in rows and layering it with peppercorn, garlic, onions, tomatoes, ginger and a bit of salt then drizzled with vegetable oil in a pressure cooker to make it into homemade sardines. with a squeeze of kalamansi and served on top of steaming hot rice this is a dish that takes me back to my more carefree days as a child.
why the sudden reminiscence about GG? last weekend i went with friends to badian and lunch was the usual grilled pork belly, fried chicken, pansit canton fare that we brought from the city. for me though, the real star of the meal was the fresh bodboron we got from the nearby town market and cooked inun-unan style.
paksiw is a more common term but it involves baby GGs (3 to 5 inches) layered in a casserole with ginger, chili, garlic, onions then seasoned with salt and pepper before pouring equal portions of vinegar and water in a deep casserole. Set over very low fire, you add a bit of oil towards the end when the vinegar and the water starts to go into a rolling boil. You never, NEVER stir the dish as the fish at this point is very tender.
eaten with rice, the bones are so soft that you can consume the whole fish which made me think that this is probably the filipino version of sardines.
inun-unan is the cebuano term for paksiw and the method of cooking is not limited to bodboron. milkfish, tilapia and even tangigue can be cooked using the same style. one of the interesting variants of inun-unan is to wrap individual fish pieces using banana leaves to make sure that they don't fall apart while they're being cooked. the banana leaves lend a smoky flavor counterpart to the otherwise fishy-smell. my theory is that inun-unan refers to pillow-wraps (unan) as the fish looks like a teeny-weeny pillow wrapped in banana leaves.
for those that crave a bit of bite to their paksiw, espada (long green chili) or even the fiery bird's eye chili can be added to the dish in the cooking process. perfect for me who loves it hot hot hot.