Paksiw na Isda (Fish Cooked in Vinegar)

When we were “younger”, we would tease our sister, Bambi, that she could eat a palayok (clay potful) of steamed rice when paired with Paksiw.

Paksiw (fish or pork cooked in vinegar) was a way of preserving an abundance of fish. Most of the time the milkfish (bangus), is the one chosen for this dish. But, do try it on most fish since each kind of fish has its own flavour. From the Bia to Apahap (Barramundi) to Red Snapper, its own flavour is very comforting.

Paksiw is never eaten on the day it is cooked; much like Adobo, it is best eaten the day or a couple of days after. Also like pickled food, it is preserved in vinegar and best after the vinegar has had a chance to “sit”.

Although I am not too keen on Paksiw Na Isda per se, I do love to pick on the eyes or fish roe of the Paksiw Na Isda. Here I present the Paksiw using Salmon Heads; my favorite part of the fish. Most fish are suitable for this recipe, either scaled or descaled. Most Filipinos prefer their Paksiw with scales on because it has more flavor.

Paksiw na Isda (Fish Cooked in Vinegar)

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By Marianne de Leon Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Paksiw is never eaten on the day it is cooked; much like Adobo, it is best eaten the day or a couple of days after. Also like pickled food, it is preserved in vinegar and best after the vinegar has had a chance to "sit".

Ingredients

  • 1 whole fish (500 grams to 1 kilogram), gutted, scaled or not scaled, sliced into serving sizes, washed, and patted dry
  • 2 lady finger chilies (siling haba)
  • 1 tablespoon sliced ginger (about thumb-sized)
  • 1-2 lemongrass white ends, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, crushed lightly
  • 1 small onion, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 cup white native vinegar (paumbong) or any white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin or sake
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • Optional ingredients
  • 1 eggplant, sliced into long rounds
  • 1/2 bitter melon (ampalaya) - seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch half moons
  • 12 pieces of okra

Instructions

1

Very important: Use a non-reactive cooking pot like enamel, non-stick, glass, or clay pot.

2

Lay the ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and chilies on the bottom of the pan.

3

In a mixing bowl, mix vinegar, water, sake, fish sauce, oil, salt and sugar til sugar and salt are properly dissolved. Taste and adjust to your particular taste.

4

Pour this vinegar mixture over the ginger and other aromatics.

5

Turn on the flame to medium-low and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. This builds the flavor from the ginger and vinegar mixes.

6

Remove from fire.

7

Arrange the fish on top of the mixture.

8

Place the sliced vegetables on both sides of the fish.

9

Spoon some of the mixture over the fish and vegetables to baste it, then cover.

10

Over a low fire, simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.

11

Remove from fire, remove cover, and set aside til the next day.

Notes

Paksiw is served at room temperature with hot, steamed rice.

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