Serving
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Fish Stew with Vinegar
Philippine
  -   Paksiw na Isda
Serves
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
4 w/rice  
**
45 min  
Yes
This mildly tart fish dish is very popular in the Philippines, the world capital for cooking with vinegar. As are many Philippine dishes, it's simple and easy to make. The ingredients for this dish vary little, but proportions and method do (see Variations ).




1-1/2
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7
5
9
3
2
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1
1-1/4
1
1
1
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#
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oz
cl
oz

in
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c
c
T
t
t
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Fish Fillets (1)
-- Vegies
Onions
Garlic
Bitter Melon (2)
Chili Mahaba (3)  
Ginger
-- Broth
Vinegar (4)
Water
Fish Sauce (5)
Salt
Peppercorns;
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Prep   -   (25 min)
  1. If using Fish Fillets, cut them into large serving pieces or as desired. If whole fish, scale and clean. Remove head and/or tail if desired or to fit the pan.
  2. Quarter ONION lengthwise and slice thin crosswise. Peel GARLIC and crush cloves medium. Mix.
  3. Split BITTER MELONS lengthwise and scoop out seed mass. Slice crosswise less than 1/4 inch wide. Mix with Onions.
  4. Open CHILIS lengthwise with a single cut through one wall. If using hot chilis, clean out seeds and veins as needed. Mix with Onions.
  5. Trim or peel GINGER where needed. Slice thin crosswise. Mix with Onions.
  6. Mix together all Broth items.
Run   -   (20 min)
  1. Arrange All Items in a sauté pan or similar - half the Vegies on the bottom, Fish in the middle and remaining vegies on top. Pour the Broth over. It is important the broth cover the fish
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.
  3. Serve with steamed Jasmine rice, including some of the broth.
NOTES:
  1. Fish:   If you use whole fish, you will need about 2-1/4 pounds for the same amount of meat. This dish is most often made with Bangus steaks or whole small fish, just scaled and cleaned, beheaded or not. Fillets of larger fish are also used, and are better when serving less experienced fish eaters. The important thing is that the fish hold together well with wet cooking. The most commonly used fish is Bangus (Milkfish) cut into steaks, followed by Galunggong (Mackerel Scad) cooked whole, but other small Philippine fish are also used.
  2. Bitter Melon:   [Amaplaya] This should be the Chinese style, not the Indian, and should be very firm and dark green. For details see our Bitter Melon page.
  3. Chili Mahaba:   This is a long, narrow chili that is relatively mild. For details and substitutions see our Philippine Chilis page.
  4. Vinegar:   This should be a genuine Philippine vinegar, available from Philippine markets. The photo example was made with Palm Vinegar, but Cane or Coconut vinegars could also be used. Lacking one of those, use white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar - but cut them about 1/4 with water as they are more harsh. For details see our Sours page.
  5. Fish Sauce:   [Patis] This clear liquid is as essential to Southeast Asian cuisine as it was to Imperial Rome. If you are unfamiliar with it, see our Fish Sauce - Introduction page.
  6. Variations   Some recipes substitute Eggplant for the Ampalaya, some use 1/2 each, and some omit both. Some recipes cook the fish in the broth without vegetables, age it in the fridge for 2 days, then finish it with the vegetables. Others suggest letting the finished stew rest for a few hours, then reheating. Some recipes cook the Ampalaya separately to reduce bitterness in the broth (I haven't found this a problem). The ratio of Vinegar to Water is all over the map.
  7. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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