When you’re in Batangas, you shouldn’t miss the chance to try out one of their most famous dishes, sinaing na tulingan. It’s usually cooked in a claypot, and is best eaten with tomatoes and rice drenched in kapeng barako. Here’s how you can choose the best tulingan in the wet market:

Take a peek. The eyes should be clear, not cloudy and the gills should be a bright, not a dul, red.
Take a sniff. The fish should smell clean, or have a briny, fresh-from-the-sea aroma.
Give it a poke or two. The fish's flesh should be firm to the touch. Also, any mucus from this scaleless fish should run clear, not milky.

If you’re cooking sinaing na tulingan, set aside some of the fish for this pasta dish: we promise, it’ll taste just as delicious!

Pasta with Tulingan
Prep time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:
1 kilo pasta noodles
2 kilos fresh tomatoes
3 cups olive oil
50 grams garlic, chopped
Rock salt to taste
2 pieces laurel leaves, whole
Pepper to taste

For the Sinaing na Tulingan:
1 kilo tulingan
Water, enough to cover fish
1 cup kamias
Salt to taste

Procedure:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. To make the pasta sauce: Boil ingredients for 1 hour on low fire (The cooks recommend that you use the traditional wood-fired kalan, so that heat is easily controlled.).
3. To make the Sinaing na Tulingan: In a large pot, boil tulingan in water, kamias, and salt. You’ll know it’s ready when the bones are very soft and have almost disappeared.
4. Remove fish from the pot and place on a hot grill to dry. Let cool, then flake the fish.
5. Pour the pasta sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with flaked tulingan on top before serving.

(Photo by Pat Dy. Recipe courtesy of ‘83 Gallery Cafe in Pagsanjan, Laguna. For information, call (6349)808-4967.)

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