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‘Poor man’s food’ tuyo gets a high-end makeover as a bottled delicacy

Featured image- Gourmet tuyo

By Sol Vanzi

There was a time when fish was a poor man’s food, and tuyo (salted dried herring) was classified as food for the poorest of the poor. Those days are gone.

Today, fish is more expensive than pork or chicken. And tuyo has come a long way from being eaten in squatter shanties to being served in upscale condos and Forbes Park mansions.

Say hello to gourmet tuyo in olive oil, the hottest food gift and tiangge product last Christmas.

Bottled tuyo makes a lot of sense. Frying tuyo scents the entire house, unless one has giant windows that let fresh strong breezes in and drive unwanted odors out. Hundreds of thousands of condo dwellers are discouraged from cooking tuyo in their small units. The rich do not want tuyo permeating their heavy drapes and thick carpets.

The solution? Entrepreneurs upscaled tuyo by cooking and bottling the dried fish in olive oil with all the accouterments—whole peppercorn, carrots, garlic, olives, capers. Sosyal! Now, you can have tuyo anywhere, anytime.

Tuyo on everything

The world, it seems, has discovered that tuyo is good on anything—pizza, caesar salad, arroz caldo, potato salad, pancit Malabon, fried rice, Asian noodles, or stir-fries.

Chefs recommend removing the head, fins, and bones, then carefully scraping off the scales before flaking the flesh. Some bottled tuyo come already flaked.

Salmon substitute

My personal favorite is a takeoff from the Peninsula Hotel breakfast classic called Smoked Salmon on Soft Scrambled Eggs.

Beat three eggs lightly with three tablespoons of milk, then season with little salt and pepper. Afterward, cook in butter, while stirring over low flame until done but still runny.

Slide into a plate, then sprinkle with tuyo flakes and sliced green onions. Serve immediately with toast or rice.

Kare-kare side dish

Very innovative. Sauté tuyo flakes in chopped garlic, onions, and ripe tomatoes. Simmer gently until flakes become creamy and saucy.

Use this instead of ginisang bagoong as a side dish for kare-kare. It’s also great as a dip (sawsawan) for sinigang and fish paksiw.

Green mango salad

You will need sliced or grated green mango, tomatoes, native red onions, and chili peppers. Mix well and top with flaked tuyo.

Do-it-yourself bottled tuyo


You can do this by first scaling and beheading 25 to 30 pieces of lightly fried tuyo. Afterward, set these aside. In a non-metal pot, simmer these for five minutes:

  • 3 cups of corn oil
  • 2/3 cup of vinegar
  • 4 cloves of sliced garlic
  • 1 small sliced carrot
  • 4 pieces of bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
  • A few red chilies

In two clean jars, arrange fried tuyo, whether whole or flaked. Pour in the simmered pickling liquid and spices. Keep the jars covered in a cool place until ready to use.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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