Sweet flavor is characteristic of many Filipino dishes, not the least among them is the tocino — cured meat, either pork or chicken — that is quite popular as a breakfast fare everywhere in the Philippines. Many international Asian grocery stores carry the frozen, pre-packaged delicacy ready to thaw and fry.
I was recently surprised that Filipinos also use fish to make tocino. It’s a healthy alternative while fulfilling the sweet dish craving. It’s easy to make and just involves mixing some special marinade to pour over your choice of fish. After letting it stand for several hours or overnight, your fish tocino is ready for the frying pan.
Milk fish, carp or tilapia fillets are usually used for this dish, but you can pretty much experiment with any of your favorite fish. Mine happens to be Pangasius or cream dory.
Just like its pork or chicken counterparts, fish tocino best served with eggs and garlic fried rice.
2 pcs., fish fillet, slicked in half or thirds1 cup soy sauce1 cup brown sugar3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed1.2 tsp ground pepper2 tbsp., Olive oil1/4 cup waterToasted sesame seeds (optional)
In a small bowl, combine garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce and pepper. Mix well and set aside. In a plastic container, arrange the fillets next to or on top of each other. Pour the marinade over the fish. Cover the plastic container and refrigerate the fillets for at least 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, retrieve the fillets and drain and allow to air-dry.
Place fillets in a frying pan and add the water. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until most of the liquid is gone, tuning the fillets over once.
Add Olive oil to the pan and continue cooking the fillets until they become tender, browned but not burnt. Turn the fillets over to ensure even cooking.
Note: cooking in high heat will burn the fillets because of the sugar).
Remove from heat and serve warm, sprinkling toasted sesame seeds over the fish.