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[Recipe] Revisiting the Sinardinas na Bangus Recipe (Sardines-style Milkfish)

From time to time I like to revisit some of my already-written recipes in this blog to see what updates and tweaks I have done through the years. Sometimes it's just a matter of discovering better ingredients or sometimes I would experiment with a different cooking technique and adopt it because it makes the whole preparation easier or it makes the final dish better in some way. 

I have implemented several key changes in this version of the recipe. One is adding the initial step of brining the fish first to make the flesh firmer to help with the final texture of the dish given the long pressure cooking time. The other is incorporating an unusual ingredient: the Korean fermented soybean paste Doenjang (which might be a controversial move to some given its robust flavors). There is also the addition of tausi - the Filipino fermented and salted black soybeans (can you see a pattern here?). Adding additional umami elements to this dish on top of the tomato sauce and the soy sauce is the main point of this revision.


- 3 big bangus or milkfish - cut into slabs (I just tell the person at the fish section of the grocery to clean, descale, and cut for Sinigang cooking typically 5 cuts per fish)
- 2 medium onions
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup soy sauce 
- 1/2 cup coconut vinegar
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil (or soybean oil or corn oil)
- 1/4 cup Knorr liquid seasoning 
- 1 pack sweet pickle relish 250 grams
- 1 small can *[[tausi]]* (fermented black soybeans) 180 grams
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns 
- 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeƱos (plus 2 tbs of the pickling liquid) or you can substitute with banana chili peppers
- Half cup sea salt (for brining this will be rinsed don't worry about the seemingly large amount)
- 1 pack magic sarap seasoning 8 grams
- 2 large carrots, cut into cubes
- 2 pcs dried bay leaves
- 2 tbs Doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
- muscovado sugar to taste
- Enough water to fill to the maximum level of pressure cooker


Mix sea salt and just enough water to submerge the bangus pieces in a bowl. Leave for about 2 hours refrigerated. 

In a pressure cooker pot, add the perforated tray at the bottom that comes with the cooker (if your cooker doesn't come with this then it is advisable to purchase one that fits just right at the bottom of the cooker) so that the fish won't come in direct contact with the bottom while cooking. Rinse the bangus and arrange the cut-up pieces preferably with the tail piece at the bottom (this piece contains the most fishbone) and the delicate head, should you wish to include it, at the upper part (as mentioned in the previous recipe, I would sometimes use the heads for sinigang na bangus). 

Add the diced carrots, tomatoes, and onions, the tausi (just dump the entire packet including the liquid), the jalapeƱos (including some of the pickling liquid), the pickle relish (again you should just dump everything including the pickling liquid), the whole peppercorns, and a few bay leaves on top. Top off with a packet of magic sarap seasoning granules and the scoops of *Doenjang*. 

Add the liquid ingredients next. Add the soy sauce, Knorr liquid seasoning, coconut vinegar (you can substitute this with any other kind of vinegar but I like coconut vinegar best for this), the sunflower oil. Then add enough water to fill the pressure cooker up to the maximum liquid level according to the manufacturer's manual (the cooking time for this is 2 hours and we do not want all the liquid to evaporate before then). 

Start with high heat with the lid off until the liquid begins to simmer. Lower to medium heat and put on the lid of the pressure cooker with the weight. Wait until the weight of the cooker starts swaying and making that distinctive rhythmic sound (indicating that the desired pressure has been reached) set a timer for 2 hours and lower the burner as much as you can with the steam still making the weight of the cooker swing back and forth. 

At the end of the 2 hours remove from heat and let it depressurize by slowly venting off steam. 

Open the lid when it is safe to do so and add the guisado tomato sauce (we didn't add this earlier since it has a tendency to settle and stick to the bottom and burn). Optionally, you can adjust the taste of the sauce by adding [[muscovado]] sugar to taste (the sugar can balance the sourness from the tomato sauce if desired). 

Let it cool and store it in food-safe and freezer-safe containers. This dish freezes well and can be reheated on the stove-top or in the microwave.

Sinardinas na bangus straight after pressure cooking. 

Sinardinas na bangus/ sardines-style milkfish.

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