Bangus (Milkfish) is a common fish variety in the Philippines. One famous Filipino dish that can be created with this bony fish is Rellenong Bangus (Stuffed Milkfish). This dish is usually served during special occasions as preparing for this dish is very time consuming. One shortcut you can make (if you’re residing in the Philippines) is to find a fishmonger that specialises on extracting the flesh and guts of the Bangus (Milkfish), leaving the skin and head intact. But for me, here in “Down Under”….there’s no such luck on finding a fishmonger that will make my prepping of Rellenong Bangus any easier. This is actually my second attempt on prepping Bangus for this dish (1st attempt was about 2 years ago=P). It was a bit easier this second time around as I know now what to do (kind of ;P). I hope this stage by stage pictures will help anyone who wants to attempt to tackle this messy job.
HOW TO PREP A BANGUS FOR RELLENONG BANGUS
2 medium Bangus (Milkfish)
small chef’s knife
bottle or rolling pin covered in freezer bag
blunt table butter knife
a couple of kitchen paper towels
Top Left & Right: De-scale your fish by scraping the scales against the grain with your chef’s knife. Your fishmonger can do this for you but you have to instruct them to be gentle so that the skin is still intact. Once you get home from the market you can de-scale the fish again to make sure there’s no leftover scales on the fish. Snip the skin underneath the head of the Bangus to expose the gills with your kitchen scissors.
Bottom Left & Right: Firmly grab all the gills inside the head of the Bangus and pull it out. Using your forefinger and middle finger, slowly separate the guts from the stomach of the fish and pull it out. Make sure that the stomach is cleaned out, rinse with cold water. With both of your hands, hold the neck part and tail….firmly pull your hands in opposite directions, you’ll feel the fish body loosen up.
Top Left & Right: Break the tail bone inside but take care that you don’t completely snap off the entire tail part. Pound the whole body of the fish with your wrapped bottle or rolling pin, to loosen the fish meat inside.
Bottom Left & Right: Snip off the main bone (spine?), below the shoulders of the fish not on the neck part. This will make the head stable and will not easily get detached while stuffing and cooking. Using the flat sides of your blunt butter knife, slowly detach the fish meat away from the skin. Start from the middle part and go side to side, , do this both sides of the fish. Don’t separate the main rib bone surrounding the opening of the fish. Leaving the main rib bone prevents the opening from easily tearing apart.
Top Left & Right: After making sure that you have detached the whole fish meat part from the skin, grab the main bone with some folded up kitchen paper towels and pull the whole fish meat part out of the fish. You can’t do this process if your fish meat is not completely detached from the fish skin, so I’m telling you now….make sure! Scrape the inside of the fish gently using a spoon to remove leftover fish meat and place it with rest. If you see visible fish bones inside, pull it out with your fingers and snip the larger bones with your kitchen scissors.
Bottom Left & Right: Marinate your Bangus skins overnight with 1 tbspn of soy sauce and 1 tbspn of calamansi or lemon juice, place it inside the fridge completely covered with plastic wrap. Steam your fish meat for 15 minutes, drain off the excess liquid and set aside to cool.
~ Once the fish meat has cooled down, carefully flake the fish meat to reveal the large and tiny bones, separate the bones and dispose them. Store your boneless flaked fish meat in a container inside the fridge ready to be used for the next day.
*used U.S Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Cooking Rellenong Bangus the next day is highly recommended, you need a good rest after tackling this Bangus Prep to clear your mind.
- I promise, as you do this Bangus Prep several times…it gets easier. When I did my first Bangus Prep, 2 years ago…I’ve never imagine doing it again and surprise myself that it was way easier the second time around=)
- Tried different kitchen tools to insert inside the Bangus and I found the blunt butter knife the best, as you can really fully insert all of it inside the fish up to the tail bone part. Loosen the upper body of the Bangus first and work your way up to the tail, this will give you more space to hold into the end of your butter knife.