Tinapa is a viand typically cooked by Filipinos during breakfast. Similar to other fish items such as Tuyo and Daing, Tinapa is also a dried fish fare, commonly sold in wet markets, “bagsakan” or fish Ports, small variety stores and even in big Supermarkets. One can say that tinapa is actually everywhere. Tinapa recipe, strictly speaking, is created to make the shelf-life of the fish longer instead of waiting for it to get sold while the fish slowly rots. In making the tinapa, one can be sure that nothing in the produce of the sea goes to waste.
In other countries, say, Sweden, they preserve their extra fishes by turning it into “surströmming.” They put the fish in brine and pack it in tin cans, waiting for the fish to break down before actually selling it, thus, producing that infamous stench. In the Philippines, however, since the heat of the country will actually make the fishes rot faster, fishermen and vendors choose to air dry and smoke the fishes as a method of preservation.
Tinapa Recipe Preparation and Method
Though Tinapa is very much accessible in the country, it is also possible for one to cook it at home. Tinapa recipe mainly involves the process of washing the fishes and putting it in brine for an extended amount of time (usually 5 – 6 hours), air drying and finally smoking the fishes. The fish species which are commonly used for making Tinapa could either be Galunggong (Scads) or Bangus (Milkfish) or either Mackerel.
Tinapa can actually last for a very long time and one can have it as breakfast for several days though tinapa can also be eaten during lunch and dinner. Cooking tinapa, on the other hand, will only involve frying the tinapa. This is then served with warm rice and sliced tomatoes and fish paste on the side. Another choice side dish can also be fried eggs.
- 15 - 16 (about 5 pounds total weight) whole Galunggong (Scad) or Tamban (Sardinella)
- 1-quart salt
- 3 quarts water
- 2 pounds hickory wood chunks for smoking (Soak wood chunks in water two days before using them.)
- In a large bowl or small bucket add warm water and dissolve the salt.
- Clean the fish and add the brine onto the fish.
- I just use our kitchen sink for this (make sure your sink is clean and rinsed thoroughly).
- Let it brine for 1 hour while stirring the brine every ten minutes.
- The rule of thumb: brine the fish for ½ an hour for every half inch (thickness) of fish.
- After an hour remove the fish from the brine, rinse it well, and set aside.
- Depending on your smoker, the best way to do this is to keep the fish away from the heat source as much as possible.
- Place your fish on the rack and add your wood chunks to the heat source.
- Cover the smoker and let it smoke for 1 ½ hour.
- You will need to add wood chunks every 20 minutes to keep the smoke going.
- Enjoy your freshly made Tinapa.
- Serve with fresh tomatoes and onions and don’t forget the garlic flavored vinegar dipping sauce.
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