August 30, 2007

Something smells fishy

(Cebu: last of 4 parts)

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Because we spent most of our time in Santa Fe, there were some places in Cebu city I didn't have the chance to visit such as the popular bagsakan (wholesale) center, the Carbon market . What I did make time for though is Tabo-an market, which is only about 10 minutes away from my brothers house. So while he settled in for a siesta, pooped after driving back from Bantayan, I borrowed his car and his housekeeper led us to the market.

I had heard about this market before so I was prepared for the mountains of dried fish or daing that was displayed before my eyes. What I wasn't prepared for was how much we would reek of fish even hours after leaving the market with our purchases vacuum-sealed in plastic and wrapped in newspaper and packed into a box. Every fiber of my being carried the stench of the sea, my hair, my clothes, even my bra! Same thing with my friend, M. We showered and scrubbed and thought we were rid of it completely, when poof , a surprise puff of the now-too-familiar funky odor greeted me when I opened my bag, and then engulfed us when we got into my brother's car the next day.

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But that was ok. It was a temporary inconvenience that was well worth it. My dad loves the stuff and together with other goodies, it's a favorite pasalubong (travel gift) from Dumaguete too. So I was determined to take some home for the family and some friends. I also wanted to get more of that fish tocino which I had bought at the port of Santa Fe before boarding the Fast Craft.

For the benefit of my friends abroad, dried fish which was once the poor man's meal is now a Filipino breakfast favorite. It is fried to a crisp and served with a side of steamed or garlic-fried rice and vinegar for dipping. Like bagoong or ginamus (fermented shrimp paste), it is a nightmare for the uninitiated, especially when it is cooked in their homes because the smell has incredible staying power. My cousin's English husband banned it from their home (or at least banned them from cooking it while he was in town) after he was roused from bed one morning from the offensive (to him) aroma wafting up from the kitchen and permeating every corner of the house. Heehee. It's an acquired taste and smell for sure, but if you can get past the initial repulsion, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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dried squid

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fish tocino

You'll find almost every imaginable sun-dried, salt-cured fish here, piled high in abaca baskets that line the entire length of Tres de Abril St. There were piles of dried dilis (anchovy), sapsap, pusit (squid), danggit, hibe (shrimp), all available to retail and wholesale buyers. Depending on type of fish, they sell for about P200 or $4.50 (dilis) to P480 or $10.00(pusit) per kg. The stalls also carry Cebuano and Visayan delicacies like otap, dried mangos, barquillos, sampaloc, biscocho etc. making it a one-stop shop for pasalubong shopping. The sales ladies will expertly pack everything for you in boxes ready for shipping.

A great tip I learned from my brother: pack all dried fish in large brown envelopes and seal with tape. The smell is contained within, so you could actually put it in your suitcase if you don't want to bother checking-in an extra box at the airport.

Drying Fish

I stumbled upon these fish being sun-dried at Virgin Island near Bantayan

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Our breakfast back in Manila the day after I arrived home
left to right: dilis, danggit and pusit, and my favorite fish tocino

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Cebu longganisa ; another breakfast courtesy of Tabo-an market

EYC Marketing, Dried fish dealer
Stall #71-72; Tabo-an Market
Tres de Abril St., Cebu City
Tel. (032) 261-4307; 2627414

36 comments:

ScroochChronicles said...

Hi Christine!! This is making me crave for a huge serving of sinangag, kamatis, and danggit!! Yummmy!!

I'm definitely gonna have some tomorrow morning :)

Lydia said...

I can only imagine the smell of the fish. I have one tiny jar of shrimp paste in my fridge, and every time I open it, I have to get used to the smell all over again!

tutubi said...

kalami ngg danggit

nice series. bantayan and malapascua are high on my wishlist. probably next year :)

mtan said...

curious about the fish tocino! I'm imagining it, tasting it, yum!

But I love me dangit! could eat it every morning.

ginny said...

They look so yummy for breakfast! has to be with tomatoes, vinegar and garlic rice for me.

christine said...

Enjoy your breakfast tomorrow, Cookie! :)

Lydia, haha it does take some getting used to. I remember freaking my friends out in London with a bottle of bagoong and a canister of spicy dilis. It was always amusing to watch their reactions.

Tutubi, kalami gyud! I haven't been to Malapascua. Hopefully by the time I get there I'll have taken up diving so I can enjoy it even more. Hope you get to go next year!

Mila, the fish tocino is so yummy! It's my favorite of all, which isn't surprising because I have more of a sweet tooth than a salty one. I've ordered you some from my brother already. He's here now but not sure yet when he's coming back. :)

Gins, yes, tomatoes too. Always a nice pairing. Which one is your fave?

Christina said...

Evil! Temptress!

Fish tocino??? Never had it, I'm intrigued.

Christina said...

Hey you should submit an article to Bootsnall on the fish market, great piece. I saw your one on Malatapay got featured in the BnA e-newsletter, meant to say congrats earlier!

REPRESENT. :-)

Bearbrick Lover: said...

i also wanna try the fish tocino, never heard of it before! :-) I expect it to be sweeter than the usual dried fish but i like sweet food! Where can I get them here in Manila?

Marvin said...

Forget about the smell of coffee in the morning. The pungent, yet yummy, aroma of fish is what really gets me out of bed.

christine said...

Christina, thank you! I was so thrilled beyond belief when I got the email and saw it made it to top 10. :)You have to try the fish tocino, I think you'd love it. Would you know what the rules are about bringing dried fish into the US?

Hi bearbrick lover! I don't know where you can get it here. But don't worry you'll be getting some to try soon. :)

Ahh Marvin,you make me proud. You can take the Pinoy out of the Philippines, but you can't take the Philippines out of the Pinoy. :)

veron said...

whoa! I am visually arrested at those mounds of dried fish! Your last picture of dilis,danggit,pusit for breakfast is making me hungry. Plus tocino and longganisa...my belly is definitely grumbling!

sha said...

the jeepney i used to take from school to the city used to pass by taboon oh my the smell

but honestly i do miss it now
last time i was home 2000 i visited this place

and your breakfast sounds yummy while i had some pan chocolat today....

pictures are getting better too.....

christine said...

Hi Veron! I ran out of my stash yesterday (both the Cebu longganisa and fish tocino) and I'm craving it badly already. I've asked my brother to bring some for me when he comes over soon. :)

Thanks, sha. :) I bet the smell that assaulted you left you wide awake at class every morning. And pan chocolat sounds yummy too!

joey said...

I'm dying here Nens! I love all these dried fish variants (danggit, sapsap, whateverelse!)! I am a huge fan of this stuff :) I am super craving now...ack! I haven't tried fish tocino though...it looks like just the type of thing I would love! Maybe they have it in the Cebu stand at Market! Market!?

Belinda said...

Oh my gosh Christine! Just look at ALL of those huge piles of dried fish! And your poor brother...his car that you confiscated and brought back to him now has a permanent fish fragrance. :-) Somehow though, you even make tons of drying fish look appealing, even to the non-initiated palate!

oggi said...

Danggit and longanisa (I call them shortganisa), my favorites! I want some of the fish tocino too, they look yummy.
Thanks for posting this market, although Mandaue is the one I used to visit. I remember those piles of dried fish and the strong smell and the strings of longanisa. Hay, I'm getting homesick! :D

christine said...

Joey they might! Let's check :)

Haha. Belinda, he "exorcised" his car enough I think. He lit a candle inside, a couple of matches and aired it out, he said. :) It was my fault for rolling down the window and left it down while I bought the longganisa at the last minute.

Oggi, you're Cebuana too? I've never been to the market in Mandaue, maybe I'll have a look-see when I go back. :)

Cliff said...

Danggit, fish tocino and dried pusit, garlic-fried rice, with sliced kamatis-and-onion side dish, oh-my, I'm hungry now...hehehe...

Sidney said...

I also banned the cooking of dried fish in my house in Belgium. My neighbors thought I was hiding a decomposing human body in my home.

Daniel Ted said...

Blood red..the fish tocino looks tasty..is it good?

mtan said...

Oh my goodness, now I'm excited about my first taste of fish tocino!

Ferdz said...

I love the danggit and daing there. If there's someone from Cebu coming to Manila, lagi akong nagpapabili nyan.

I love your food shots here too!

Ferdz said...

I love the danggit and daing there. If there's someone from Cebu coming to Manila, lagi akong nagpapabili nyan.

I love your food shots here too!

christine said...

Cliff, sobra me too! Especially for all that and the kamatis/onion side. :)

Sidney that's hilarious. It doesn't smell that bad! hehe

Daniel & Mila, it's SUPER good! It's a big favorite of mine. You gotta try it.

Thanks Ferdz! Big compliment coming from you. :)

oonsky said...

Hi Christine ~ you wicked darling, you are making me crave for those pagkalami na lang gyud danggits/bulad! We don't have that in New Zealand...so I'm left to dream na lang...of danggits being sawsaw-ed in garlic chili vinegar with a scoop of sinangag! Boo hoo hoo.

MikeMina said...

Yum! I had danggit for breakfast today and now I'm craving for the fish tocino and Cebu longanisa! I must find these or else . . . :-)

christine said...

Oonsky, I wish I could email you some danggit. Or that someone invents tasteavision quick! :)

Hi Mike, Joey mentioned seeing some frozen fish tocino in Rustan's. It may not be the same, but it could just be the next best thing right?

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. I wish I am back in the Philippines to eat danggit and garlic- fried rice. My stomach is rumbling.

dodongflores said...

Wow! You sure enjoyed a lot! The smell doesn't matter to me. Thanx for the idea. Next time I'll visit Cebu, I might as well visit this place...

tutubi said...

danggit, bai!

such fun. am thinking of buying P1 fare of cebupacific to go there

christine said...

Dodong, you should. It's a one-stop shop for most Cebu treats so it'll surely be worth your while. :)

Tutubi, do it bai! Don't even think twice!

docchef said...

the cebu longganisa breakfast looks yummy

christine said...

Docchef, it's super yummy! Looking at it now is making me drool and wish I had some still. Time to make a call to my bro. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my! I am salivating! I had been craving that fish tocino ever since I had a taste early this year when my brother brought home some after visiting Cebu. He couldn't remember what it's called or where they bought it. Now, I found it! Thanks. The only thing is how do I get a hold of some fish tocino without actually going to Cebu. I'm here in SoCal. Do anybody know where to buy it aside from Tabu-an?

christine said...

They do have some fish tocino in groceries here like Rustan's but it's nowhere as good as the ones from Cebu. Maybe the wet markets have them. Wish I could be of more help. :)