Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Paksiw na Bangus (Milkfish Stewed in Vinegar)

Paksiw is a method of cooking that requires meat and/or vegetables to cook slowly in vinegar that is seasoned with onion, peppercorns,  ginger and peppers. Tuna, salmon, striper, mackerel, catfish, milkfish, tilapia, ponyfish, threadfin brim and anchovy can be used to cook this dish. The use of milkfish is a little challenging because of the tiny bones embedded in the fish meat. Anchovies are usually wrapped in banana leaves. Paksiw is one of the staple dishes in a Filipino household. The use of vinegar sort of "pickles" the fish, thus prolonging its cooked shelf life even without refrigeration.

The dish is served with rice as a main entree. It can be served for lunch and dinner. Leftover fish from the paksiw are usually fried and served with rice the following morning. Actually the longer you keep paksiw refrigerated, the more flavorful it becomes because all the flavors and spices seep in to the fish meat.

This dish is very close to my heart because I learned this from my late grandfather (lolo).  He used to cook it in a claypot (palayok.) I remember enjoying the dish as a child which is contrary to the fact that kids don't like paksiw because of its sour taste and pungent smell. I guess my lolo's paksiw was that good that the sour taste didn't bother me at all.


  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt or 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 whole milkfish, cleaned and cut in steaks*
  • 1 bitter gourd, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in 1/2 inch thick slices* (optional)
  • 2 Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in 1/2 inch thick slices* (optional)
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced and slightly crushed
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled (optional )
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 finger chili*

  1. Heat vinegar and water in a pan.* 
  2. Add salt and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Layer the fish and vegetables in the pan.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and simmer in medium heat for 20 minutes.
*  Other types of fish can be used as discussed above. 
*  The scales of the milkfish is usually not removed in paksiw.
*  Using a claypot to stew the fish will make the paksiw more flavorful.
*  To eliminate the bitter taste of the bitter gourd,  soak it in 2 cups water with 3 tablespoons of salt. Then rinse before cooking. 
*  To prevent eggplant from turning black, soak it in 2 cups water with juice from half of a lemon from the time it is sliced. Remive only from the soak when it is to be placed in the cooking pot/pan.