It is the anti-thesis of cloyingly overabundant and lavish dishes. Yet, despite the simplicity, this sigarilyas at tinapa sa gata is vibrant with flavors.
Perhaps, it is the smoked fish. Or, maybe, it is the the fusion of the smoked fish with the coconut milk. I really can’t decide. It may be both. I could have cooked a more generic sigarilyas sa gata with fatty pork belly but I don’t think the outcome would be this wonderful. Surprisingly, it’s a pretty easy dish to make.
Sauté the aromatics and while they soften, flake the fish. That was how I did it anyway to save time. But if you’re the kind of cook who gets flustered with too many things going on with the cooking at the same time, flake the fish and prep the rest of the ingredients before you begin sauteeing.
When the sauteed vegetables are soft and almost mushy, add the sigarilyas and half of the flaked fish. Why only half? I’ll get to that in a bit.
Pour in the coconut milk, stir and cook until quite dry and the winged beans are cooked through. And here’s why it’s important to add the fish in two batches. The first batch will impart flavor to the sauce and winged beans. However, it will cook to a mush.
So, to get discernible pieces of fish when the dish is served, you add the remaining half after the winged beans are done.
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- one-inch knob ginger grated
- 1 bird’s eye chili chopped
- fish sauce to taste
- 1 bundle winged beans about 12 pieces, cut diagonally into quarter inch slices
- 1 boneless smoked milkfish
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Over medium-low heat, sauté the onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and chili with a dash of fish sauce until soft.
- While the vegetables soften, flake the fish into fairly large chunks (discard the head, skin and tail).
- Throw in the winged beans into the pan. Season with another dash of fish sauce and stir.
- Add half of the flaked smoked milkfish to the winged beans. Stir.
- Pour in the coconut milk.
- Cook over medium-low heat, covered, until the winged beans are cooked through but still with a slight crunch, and the mixture is almost dry.
- Toss in the remaining half of the smoked milkfish, stir and cook, uncovered, for another minute.
- Taste and add more fish sauce, if necessary.