SOL VANZI's TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE PAGE
SOL VANZI's 'TIMPLA'T TIKIM'
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)
[Move over cream dory, there’s a new fish in town]
GOLDEN DORY SINIGANG prepared with guava and tamarind sauce as souring agent and garnished with hibiscus and strawberries. June 25, 2015 - by Sol Vanzi ---When the kids were growing up, Sunday was always fish day in our big household. The children and I had small fish, grilled fish, raw fish, fish tail, and fish head. My American husband ate fish fillet—no bones, no skin, no tail, no head, nothing but pure fish flesh, which in the 1970s was not cheap, even at Divisoria Mall’s basement wet market. Vic did not live long enough to see inexpensive, imported cream dory fillets flooding the supermarkets. Like many shoppers and cooks, I was awed by the pure white fish fillets selling at prices lower than galunggong and tilapia! Today, even the neighborhood karinderya and turo-turo are serving sweet and sour fish fillet, breaded fish fillet with mayonnaise, and fish fillet con tausi. READ MORE...
ALSO: Discovering Cream Dory
Pangasius (Cream dory) product A couple of hours’ drive away from Manila lies a particular farm in Lambac, Pampanga, nestled between narrow streets. A short, muddy dirt road from the main gate leads to the interior of a farm. The six-hectare property houses several fishponds, with the majority of them used to breed Tilapia. At the far end of the farm however, there is one pond that is busy with activity as six men stand in its waist-deep waters, hauling nets loaded with feisty live Pangasius. They fill a deep rectangular plastic container to the brim with the fresh fish, and subsequently weigh the catch on a scale. After they record the weight of each fish-filled container, they then start to load them into a huge truck that will bring the harvest directly to the Vitarich processing plant in Bulacan. “The Cream Dory fillets sold in most supermarkets are imported from Vietnam where Pangasius originated from,” says Ms. Imee U. Chun, Sales and Marketing Manager of Vitarich Corporation, the company leading the propagation, farming, and distribution of Pangasius in the Philippines. “The imported variety has a really white flesh and a mellower flavor, while the ones farmed here in the Philippines have a tinge of light yellow color,” she says. “Local Dory fish has a finely textured flesh and a sweeter flavor compared to its imported counterpart.” READ MORE...
READ FULL MEDIA REPORT HERE:
Move over cream dory, there’s a new fish in town
Joven Dy and Chef Tristan Encarnacion
MANILA, JUNE 29, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Sol Vanzi June 25, 2015 - When the kids were growing up, Sunday was always fish day in our big household. The children and I had small fish, grilled fish, raw fish, fish tail, and fish head.
My American husband ate fish fillet—no bones, no skin, no tail, no head, nothing but pure fish flesh, which in the 1970s was not cheap, even at Divisoria Mall’s basement wet market.
Vic did not live long enough to see inexpensive, imported cream dory fillets flooding the supermarkets. Like many shoppers and cooks, I was awed by the pure white fish fillets selling at prices lower than galunggong and tilapia!
Today, even the neighborhood karinderya and turo-turo are serving sweet and sour fish fillet, breaded fish fillet with mayonnaise, and fish fillet con tausi.
All buffets, five-star and no-star, are overflowing with cream dory fillets, assuring profit even at eat-all-you-can promos.
wild guava sauce, red radish, and amaranth sprouts
But all’s not well in fish heaven.
Food sleuths are spoiling our fish party. Many reports have appeared in mainstream and social media about the negative aspects of the new kitchen darling.
The cream dory we had learned to love is the Mekong Delta catfish, which is harvested in sometimes-polluted waters.
Worse, cream dory’s white flesh is the result of bleaching with dangerous chemicals which do not appear on any label or packaging.
Marketing geniuses came up with the idea that everyone prefers white fish, a product achieved by using chemical bleach.
kare-kare with reduced adobo sauce and organic black rice
People buying frozen cream dory are only now realizing that at R100 average per kilo, the fillets are not really a big bargain since 40 to 50 percent of the weight is lost once the fish is thawed.
Thus, the P100/kilo one pays for is, in reality, almost P200/kilo.
Another effect of bleaching is the change in the texture of the flesh. Firm when untreated, the thawed fillet becomes a gelatinous mass that doesn’t keep its shape after slicing.
Because of the chemical treatment, cream dory is not suitable for steaming or poaching, which requires freshness and pure fish flavor.
Thus, cream dory is most often cooked breaded and deep-fried or highly seasoned with spices and other ingredients.
WELCOME GOLDEN DORY
A new fish product that is priced within reach of everyone, grown locally, and raised on organic feeds has now reached supermarkets and even high-end dining places.
Labeled golden dory to distinguish it from cream dory, it is basically the same Pangasius but raised in clean freshwater ponds in the Philippines, processed without chemicals, and fed a special finishing diet weeks before harvest.
Its flesh is naturally firm and golden, assures Vitarich VP Joven Dy.
Introduced to foodies by Vitarich under the label “Cook’s” last October, it has since been successfully taste-tested by dozens of celebrity chefs.
We were invited to one last week, and were really pleased with the product’s versatility.
Kare-kare vinaigrette and wild pansit-pansitan
Chef Tristan Encarnacion successfully applied classy 21st century twists to very traditional Filipino comfort food: kare-kare, adobo, sinigang, and champorado.
Every dish was a work of art and a demonstration of endless possibilities with the golden dory.
RELATED -- COURTESY OF http://www.viewgram.com.br/user/geisermaclang
18/06/2015 - CHEF TRISTAN ENCARNACION @tristanencarnacion is happily preparing his four-course luncheon featuring dishes that u #CooksGoldenDory.
The luncheon was served to caterers, restaurateurs, food bloggers, food enthusiasts, and other chefs at the Banquito Restaurant in Quezon City.
Chef Tristan has partnered with #Vitarich Corporation in championing safer food through safer fish.
Together with some of the most influential chefs in the country, Vitarich and Chef Tristan aim to provide healthy yet delicious food for Filipinos by introducing Cook’s Golden Dory at selected first-rate restaurants in Metro Manila. #GeiserMaclang #DoingWellByDoingGood #SaferFoodThruSaferFish #CooksGoldenDory #GoldIsTheNewFresh
JUNE 18. 2015 - CHEF TRISTAN’S GOLDEN DORY SINIGANG.
Chef @TristanEncarnacion prepared this special dish made from Cook’s Golden Dory, a premium fish product from #Vitarich Corporation.
This is Chef Tristan’s unique take on a favorite Pinoy dish, prepared with guava and tamarind sauce as souring agent and garnished with hibiscus and strawberries.
“Sinigang is my most favorite Filipino dish,” notes Chef Tristan, one of the many chefs who have partnered with Vitarich in championing safer food through safer fish. #GeiserMaclang #DoingWellByDoingGood #SaferFoodThruSaferFish #CooksGoldenDory #GoldIsTheNewFresh
FACEBOOK PHOTO--Dory steak with garlic rice. Not all "dorys" are created equal :) Not all dorys are "safe" especially "cream" dory (has phosphates etc)
That's why we're so particular about tracing our fish's origins. As you should be particular too! RG @geisermaclang: The third dish was Dory Steak with Garlic Rice.
The Dory steaks are marinated in calamansi soy and seared to perfection, and topped with Bistek sauce which is served with fried onions and garlic rice.
"It's a dory fish steak topped with a beef steak sauce!" shares Chef Bruce Lim @chefb78 . #Vitarich #CooksGoldenDory #GoldenDory #GeiserMaclang #localisthenewpremium #regramapp
(2nd UPDATE FOR NEWSFLASH.ORG, June 29, 2015)
Discovering Cream Dory
The farmers have their catch for the day.
A couple of hours’ drive away from Manila lies a particular farm in Lambac, Pampanga, nestled between narrow streets. A short, muddy dirt road from the main gate leads to the interior of a farm.
The six-hectare property houses several fishponds, with the majority of them used to breed Tilapia. At the far end of the farm however, there is one pond that is busy with activity as six men stand in its waist-deep waters, hauling nets loaded with feisty live Pangasius.
They fill a deep rectangular plastic container to the brim with the fresh fish, and subsequently weigh the catch on a scale. After they record the weight of each fish-filled container, they then start to load them into a huge truck that will bring the harvest directly to the Vitarich processing plant in Bulacan.
“The Cream Dory fillets sold in most supermarkets are imported from Vietnam where Pangasius originated from,” says Ms. Imee U. Chun, Sales and Marketing Manager of Vitarich Corporation, the company leading the propagation, farming, and distribution of Pangasius in the Philippines.
“The imported variety has a really white flesh and a mellower flavor, while the ones farmed here in the Philippines have a tinge of light yellow color,” she says.
“Local Dory fish has a finely textured flesh and a sweeter flavor compared to its imported counterpart.”
Pangasius was initially introduced in the Philippines for farming in the early 1980s, but it has only gained popularity among local fish growers in the past couple of years.
Fish pond owners who have been in the Tilapia and Bangus farming business are slowly shifting to Pangasius farming due to its promising profitability and ease of breeding.
There are now farmers raising Pangasius in the Mindanao and Visayas areas, as well as in Luzon, particularly in Pangasinan, Bulacan, and Pampanga.
Pangasius Vs. Tilapia
Pangasius (Cream dory) product
Mr. Manny Cruzada, who manages a Pangasius hatchery and farm in Apalit, Pampanga, says that Pangasius is easier to raise compared to Tilapia and Bangus because “Hindi maselan ang Pangasius.
Unlike Tilapia na nagkakaproblema sa growth at nagkakasakit pag may slight change in water condition and temperature. Mas mataas ang tolerance sa tubig ng Pangasius.”
Another farm caretaker in Lambac, Pampanga, Mang Rey, narrates that he’s been involved in Tilapia farming for the past 20 years and had only tried Pangasius farming for the first time last year.
That day that YUMMY visited their farm, he and his men were hauling their very first harvest of eight-month old Pangasius and were very pleased with the outcome.
Out of the 40,000 fingerlings they put in an 800-square meter pond, only a little over 200 died. “Ang Tilapia, pag tinamaan ng peste, maraming namamatay,” Mang Rey says, “Pero ang Pangasius, maski may bagyo, hindi naaapektuhan. Ang dapat lang iwasan ay yung umapaw ang fishpond para hindi sila maagos.”
Pangasius has a higher stocking density than Bangus and Tilapia. One square meter can hold up to 10 Pangasius, and because they are surface breathers, “Okay lang kahit marami sila sa pond,” adds Mang Rey.
Pangasius can also tolerate low oxygen water, a condition which would otherwise cause fish kill in Bangus and Tilapia. And with its low mortality rate, Pangasius has a survival average of 85 to 90 percent.
However, while Bangus and Tilapia can be harvested after three to four months, Pangasius has to be raised in the pond for a minimum of seven to eight months before the harvest.
This will give them enough time to grow to a marketable size of one to 1.2 kilos a piece, whereas a kilo of Tilapia would average about three to four pieces per kilo.
Although farmers can do partial harvests in Bangus and Tilapia farms everyday, this cannot be done with Pangasius. This is a peculiar characteristic of farm-raised Pangasius—that they have to be harvested all at the same time.
“Let’s say in a one-hectare pond, nag-partial harvest ka lang ng three tons of Pangasius, pag nagpakain ka uli ng mga nandoon pa sa pond, three days silang hindi kakain. Kasi parang they remember na hinuli ’yung ibang mga kasama nila. Matampuhin itong isdang ito,” says Imee Chun.
Hatching and Breeding
Vitarich Corporation, one of the country’s biggest feed millers, partnered with contract growers two years ago, pioneered the extensive commercial growing of this freshwater fish, and set up an integrated system that covers breeding to marketing. Although it is also eyeing the export market, the company is more focused on distributing all its output in the domestic market at the moment.
In the farm managed by Mr. Manny Cruzada in Apalit, Pampanga, approximately 200 two-year-old male and female Pangasius are being bred together in an 800-square meter pond.
When the eggs are fully mature, a specially formulated liquid is injected into the fish to induce spawning. Eight to 11 hours after the injection, a single female breeder can lay up to 500,00 eggs at one time. Approximately 60% of these will survive. Each day, 10 female breeders are made to spawn.
The fry will stay in a separate tank or pond for 24 hours. After which they will be transferred to another pond until they become fingerlings.
The hatchery sells one-inch fingerlings for P2.50; three-inch fingerlings for P3.50, and four-inch fingerlings at P5.50 each. The hatchery sells a minimum of half a ton of fingerlings to buyers.
At the moment, Vitarich has only one hatchery that is located in Pampanga. According to Chun, they are still looking for people willing to partner with them to put up hatcheries in the Visayas and Mindanao regions to provide farmers easier access to fingerlings in the said areas.
Challenges and Controversies
Although Pangasius was introduced to a number fish farmers in the last two decades, it still hasn’t received an overwhelming response in the market.
In the wet markets, people who are not familiar with the fish would simply pass the vendors who sell them. Most Filipinos, Chun observes, are generally not open to try things they’re not familiar with.
“We are trying our best to convince people who are regular buyers and consumers of Tilapia and Bangus to give locally farm-raised Pangasius a try,” she says. “Kasi right now, our biggest challenge pa rin is the [people’s] acceptance.”
And because Pangasius looks a bit like the African Hito (that is known to be a gunk-eating bottom feeder), market vendors are having a difficult time convincing more people to buy fresh whole Pangasius.
“We’re trying to address these challenges by convincing more farmers to become our breeding partners and by teaching them how to farm Pangasius in the right way,” shares Chun.
“Teaching farmers to raise Pangasius would also boost their income,” says Chun. When Bangus and Tilapia are harvested at the same time, the market becomes flooded with these fish, consequently decreasing their price values. Harvesting and selling Pangasius can be an alternative means for farmers to earn more.
At the moment, Vitarich is in partnership with ten contract growers within Pangasinan, Pampanga, and Bulacan.
The company sells the fingerlings and feeds to the farmers, then Vitarich buys back the grown fish once they reach the required market size.
Another difficulty the company is facing is the influx of imported fillets which are sometimes sold cheaper than the locally raised Dory. But Chun discloses that they are slowly able to convince their big clients in the hotel and restaurant industries that locally-grown
Dory is superior to the imported ones in terms of taste and texture. One can easily differentiate the imported Cream Dory from the local variety by looking at the color of the flesh.
Thailand’s and Vietnam’s Cream Dory have white meat, whereas the one raised here in the country has a light yellow flesh. And to make sure that local Dory is not confused with its imported counterparts, Vitarich has labelled its packaged fish as Golden Dory.
Another thing that is making it difficult for Pangasius to gain the public’s acceptance is the controversy that circulated in the Web a year ago.
Vietnam’s Pangasius, farmed and raised in the Mekong River, allegedly had high levels of poisonous elements and bacteria since the polluted river has been a dumping site for toxic and hazardous wastes of nearby industries.
The good news is that the Pangasius farmed here in the Philippines are raised in farms and not in polluted rivers.
“Our Dory fish is cultured in farms, therefore the farmers can monitor the status of the water and can control the feeds given to the fish,” assures Chun.
From the Market To Your Plate
From the farm, Vitarich’s Golden Dory harvest is immediately brought to its processing plant. They are cleaned, gutted, filleted or cut into specific sizes, packed, and then blast-frozen on the same day they are harvested.
On average, fishes raised in farms have to weigh 1.5 to 1.8 kilos per piece because they are mostly sold as skinless fillets in supermarkets at about P175 to P190 per kilo. Smaller-sized fishes are usually sold whole in wet markets at P80 to P85 per kilo.
“Now that it’s starting to pick up in sales, we are also pushing for value-added products,” says Chun.
The company brand, Cook’s Marinada, has sausages, longganisa, frankfurters, lumpiang Shanghai, Dory balls, breaded fish fingers, and marinated fish; while the Cook’s Golden Dory brand offers Dory gutted whole, in packaged fillets, and in steak cuts (pure meat, with belly, tail-end).
Diners in countries such as Spain, France, Poland, Germany, Australia, and the United States have been enjoying the taste of Pangasius for years.
Here in the Philippines, Dory is only just starting to gain popularity as more restaurants serve Dory as the main ingredient in their fancy dishes. Hopefully, home cooks will start to enjoy this fish at their dinner table too, since Pangasius tastes wonderful when cooked as regular Pinoy dishes like sinigang and inihaw, or simply seasoned with salt and pepper, lightly dredged in flour, then pan-fried.
Surely, little by little, the Dory will find its way into the kitchens and dining tables of Filipino families across the country.
What else is out there in the wet markets? Here’s a list of other freshwater fish available across the country.
Giant Gourami (Gurami) is a large freshwater fish. Its light yellow flesh is firm, easy to digest, and has superior taste (its flavor comparable to Sea Bass). Giant Gourami is adaptable to pond culture because it is a fast grower. Moreover, it is vegetarian, breeds freely in fish ponds, and can survive extreme pollution. This can be prepared as sarciado where the fish is slightly pan-fried then cooked in a sauce of sautéed garlic, onion, tomatoes, and lightly beaten egg.
Mudfish (Dalag) is one of the more common freshwater fish indigenous to the Philippines. It’s a hardy fish that’s able to survive conditions fatal to other fishes. Cannibalistic and highly carnivorous, Dalag eats insects, worms, frogs, and other animals found in their habitat. This makes it difficult to breed in ponds where other fishes are reared. Mudfish is usually sold fresh and live in wet markets or in large aquariums in supermarkets. Tagalogs and Kapampangans love to eat burong dalag and can also be cooked as pesang dalag—a clear soup dish with potatoes and petchay and served with salty tahure as dip.
Catfish (Hito) is easily recognizable by its black, smooth body covered with a thick, slimy skin and face laced with pairs of whiskers like that of a cat. Like Dalag, Hito is often sold in live markets. Its flesh is flavorful and has no bones. This is enjoyed by a lot of people grilled or as sinigang with kangkong, okra, and eggplant. Restaurants usually serve catfish fillet simply breaded and fried.
Carp (Karpa), like Tilapia, was introduced in the Philippines to increase freshwater fish for food. A hardy fish that multiplies and grows fast, Karpa thrives easily in extreme conditions. It is exceedingly voracious and not at all particular about the food it eats—eating anything from meat to manure. Karpa is usually fried or cooked as sinigang. It can also be made into paksiw with slices of ampalaya.
Biyang Puti belongs to the family of Goby fish. Found in both saltwater and freshwater, Biya is quite expensive compared to other freshwater fish in the market. Carnivorous and a bottom feeder, Biyang Puti is usually found in lakes and rivers. Its flesh is white, free from stiff bones, and is excellent cooked as sinigang sa kamias or guinataang biya.
Silver Theraponid (Ayungin), strictly a freshwater fish, is reported to be found only in the Philippines. It is an omnivorous fish, eating vegetable matter and algae, as well as tiny crustaceans, fish, molluscs, insects, and worms. Ayungin is usually cooked as paksiw or as pangat.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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