Coconut recipes abound in the Bicol region. A province situated east of Manila. It is the location of the major plantations for coconut in the country. It is very interesting place where the majestic Mount Mayon is situated. This recipe which I now share is a variant of the ‘Pesang Tilapia’ recipe which I have shared earlier. Nevertheless, it really tastes different and the origin of the recipe is from entirely different province in the Philippines.
1 kg Tilapia, scales removed, cleaned
1/4 kg Native pechay
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pc. Onion, medium, thinly sliced
¼ tsp. Black pepper powder
1 pc. Ginger, fresh, crushed (about a teaspoonful)
¼ cup Coconut vinegar
2 pcs. Long green pepper
1 ½ cup Water for extracting coconut milk
1 pc. Old coconut (Niyog), grated to prepare for extraction of coconut milk (gata)
½ tsp. Iodized salt
Place the grated coconut in a bowl and add 1 cup of water. Knead and squeeze coconut cream (kakang gata) through a cheese cloth. Set aside and return the residue to the bowl and add the remaining ½ cup of water and again knead. Repeat the extraction procedure using the cheese cloth and set this less rich coconut milk in a separate container.
In a suitable saucepan, add the ginger, garlic, onion, black pepper, fish, salt, the coconut milk that was obtained from the second extraction and the vinegar. Heat until it starts to boil and cover for about five minutes. After five minutes remove cover and let the broth evaporate to a final volume of about ¼ cup. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. Place the long peppers first followed by the native pechay on the sauce pan, the tougher parts (stalks) of the pechay first followed by the greens on top. Place the fish atop the vegetables and add the coconut cream. When it starts to boil, cover for about five minutes. After five minutes, remove cover and continue heating strongly to reduce the volume of the sauce to about ½ cup. Serve with steamed rice.