Tuesday, December 13, 2011


gourmet tuyo
Tuyo and tinapa are usual breakfast staples in the Philippines. They are eaten with insanglil, sinangag or rice left-over from the night before which is stir-fried and topped with crunchy-fried minced garlic, sunny side-up eggs, and preferably achara, or sliced tomatoes with mashed itlog na pula (salted duck eggs).

Yes, we eat rice all day long, starting with breakfast, and full breakfast it always is. There may even be steamed kamote tops that had just been gathered from the front garden, with a kalamansi-bagoong dip.

Tuyo and tinapa are processed surplus fish. Tuyo is sun-dried fish, salted so it keeps for a long time in spite of the humid air. It is food that graces the table during stormy days and nights, too, when fishermen cannot go out to the sea so no fresh fish is available in the markets.

Tinapa is smoked fish, available only in the afternoons because the smoking process is done in the morning after the fishermen come in from the sea. It is normal for Filipino families to sometimes have tinapa for dinner, because it is the only fish for sale in the market before twilight. Tinapa doesn’t keep, and it is best eaten for breakfast the following morning.

But we are now in the age of food available year-round, and can be stocked year-round. So why not have tuyo and tinapa in bottles? Filipino entrepreneurs capitalized on these Pinoy almusal favorites, and came up with bottled tuyo fillets and tinapa flakes. Bottled tuyo fillets can last up to three years unopened, while the tinapa flakes last about a year and a half. Once opened, though, they need to be refrigerated.

These are fairly new products, and they don’t regularly appear on grocery shelves. But they have been created so exceptionally that I seek them out, giving them as presents to friends and family. I like to stock them in my pantry, too, even though I try to avoid processed food as much as possible, because they can be fine additions to  pastas, salads and spreads. And, not surprisingly, my kids love them for breakfast, as well.

Montano, famous for bottled Spanish-style sardines from Dipolog City in northwestern Mindanao, now produces bottled tuyo fillets in oil. It is its premium product, at double the price of the sardines bottle, and very rarely available. But it is worth looking for – spiced salted herring fillets in olive oil pack the bottle, ready for steamed or fried rice any time of the day. It also enlivens puttanesca and pesto sauces for pasta.

I discovered Amanda’s bottled tinapa flakes (labeled as "Smoked Fish Flakes") in bazaars. It is an OTOP product from Bataan, which itself is famous for tinapa and other fresh seafood. Flakes of deboned smoked galunggong - the fish commonly used for tinapa - are steeped in corn oil with peppercorns, pickled cucumbers and carrots, and pieces of bayleaf.

Processed smooth with sour cream, chives and a squeeze of lemon, tinapa spread is exceptionally good on toasts. Of course it is excellent for breakfast, too, with rice or in pan de sal with scrambled eggs. It is great as well incorporated in other dishes where its smoky flavor is indispensable – in misua, palabok, ginataang gulay.

So when it becomes tedious to go to the market in the afternoons for tinapa, or the rains prohibits smoking and sun-drying of tuyo, it is alright to open a bottle. Filipinos abroad do not need to worry about neighbors sensitive to the smell of frying tuyo and tinapa. These are real Pinoy products made by Pinoys, and they taste like a real Pinoy almusal

The tinapa flakes are especially notable in tinapa triangles - crispy dumplings like lumpiang shanghai but triangular and flat - with a filling of the tinapa flakes, chopped spinach and kintsay (wansoy or cilantro/coriander).

Deep-fried until crunchy and served with a chives-sour cream dip, with tomato salsa on the side (or the Ilokano KBL salad of kamatis, bagoong, lasuna), it is a festive almusal fare, but still very much Pinoy.

Montano Gourmet Spiced Tuyo
Montano Foods Corporation
Turno, Dipolog City
(63-65) 2122737
Amanda's Smoked Fish Flakes
Amanda's Marine Products
Balanga, Bataan
(63-47) 2371154, 2373050

Related Posts
Montano Sardines
Linguini with Crab Fat Sauce
Aligue Palabok


Anonymous said...

tinapa and tuyo go really well with insanglil! it was most likely healthier, but it's hard to imagine a life where one had to go to market each and every day to get the food to eat for the next 24 hours.


Kai said...

You wouldn't believe it, Lou, but people still go to the market each day for fresh fish. They don't like them "hilado," or frozen.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kai -- I had tuyo and insanglil a month ago, first time in almost 18 years, was soooo good. Mangipawit kayo sirin diya, hahaha. ~ Clar.

Kai said...

OMG, Clar, you've been soooo deprived! ;-)