AUGUST 18, 2008
(STAR) By Charlie Lagasca – After seaweed pan de sal, bite into tilapia burger, tilapia tocino and tilapia longganisa, all courtesy of the government’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here.

Dr. Jovita Ayson, BFAR director for Cagayan Valley, said their office conducted a taste test of processed tilapia, also known as Saint Peter’s fish, at a cooking demonstration during the city’s founding anniversary earlier this week.

Fast-food operators and others engaged in the food processing industry as well students of hotel and restaurant management witnessed the demonstration.

A blind test showed the tilapia burger, tocino and longganisa tasted better than traditional meat-based food products, and some restaurants even said they would introduce this new preparation on their menu.

“This will surely cut down my expenses as I would be able to cook many dishes without having to buy expensive pork which costs around P170 and yet not scrimp on the taste,” a participant said.

The recently conducted food demonstration, Ayson said, was also part of BFAR’s efforts to promote and popularize fish-based food products not only as a local enterprise, especially for low-income fishing families, but also as a health-friendly alternative.

According to BFAR fish processing expert Proserfina Reyno, the new food products could now cater to a growing demand for healthier food, “enabling them to enjoy the taste of traditional meat products without the expense or fear of health hazards from meat.”

“Fish longganisa and tocino are available at the BFAR cooperative office here on order,” Ayson said.

Five pieces of longganisa and a 200-gram pack of tocino each cost P65, she said, but costs are expected to go down once production goes full-blast.

Ayson said the dissemination of the fish processing technology was also intended to stir business interest among participants.

With these new procedures being developed, Reyno said no part of the fish is wasted.

“We could make the fish entrails or innards into bagoong, the skin into chicaron, the bones and fins into fish powder or calcium concentrate, while the head, specially tilapia, can be cooked as paksiw,” she said.

Some of the samples prepared during the two-day cooking demonstration were fish lumpia, fish powder from the bones (as a calcium source) and fish roll.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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