This one right here is a dish that I learned to love because of my brother-in-law’s version. I mean, I grew up with basically just a straight forward take – fish poached in vinegar loaded with peppercorns, garlic and ginger. However, when I arrived and stayed at my sister’s place in Las Pinas, this was one of the first dishes I copied. I so love the flavour profile as it was a harmony of all common flavours – sour, salty, spicy, sweet, bitter and umami! One of those fantastic one-pot dishes you will surely love!
Needless to say, my bayaw, Kuya Joy, was one of the pivotal figures in my culinary journey as he piqued my interest into discovering the international flavors. He practically built some of the foundations that eventually gave me the edge in winning the Masterchef competition. And this Paksiw recipe has been a regular item in my repertoire.
Here’s my interpretation:
½ kg Milkfish or Bangus
2 cups Rice washing or hugas bigas
1 ½ cups of Vinegar (I prefer to use local vinegars)
2 tsp peppercorns
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ fish sauce
2 pcs green chillies
2 pcs bay leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 whole onion
1 tbsp cooking oil
90g of bitter gourd
120g of ladies’ fingers or okra
Fabricate milkfish (I prefer to take out the scales unlike the usual version)
Cut chillies, crack peppercorns, slightly pound garlic and don’t even bother to take out the skin and slice onions. Slice half of the ginger and grate the rest. Slice the bittergourd.
Heat pot then add oil. Add sliced ginger and sauté for 30 seconds then add onions and garlic.
Saute for a minute then pour rice washing. Add peppercorns and bay leaves.
Once simmering, add vinegar and sugar. Slightly reduce the poaching liquid then add fish sauce.
Adjust seasoning then add milkfish and slowly simmer for at least 15 minutes.
5 minutes before turning off the gas, add your okra and chilies.
Lastly, add bitter gourd, cover your pot – cook for about a minute then turn off gas.
Let the residual heat further cook the bitter gourd by not opening the lid.
Serve with steaming rice.