In Filipino cooking, “sarciado” refers to dishes with a tomato-based sauce. It should not be confused with pangat or pinangat — a sour stew where the fish is boiled with tomatoes and a sour fruit (kamias, most often).
Meat sarciado dishes are essentially stews where the meat is slow-cooked in the tomato sauce. With fish sarciado, the fish is cooked separately, often by frying or grilling, as prolonged cooking will ruin the delicate flesh of the fish. But there are cooks who like to simmer the cooked fish in the sauce for a few minutes just before serving to allow the fish to absorb some of the flavors of the sauce.
In short, there is no singular way to prepare fish sarciado. It always boils down to how you prefer it. My father liked to cook the vegetables until they are very soft and almost liquefied. I prefer the consistency of the Mexican salsa. Olive oil is not a traditional ingredient in Filipino cooking but tomato sauce does taste so much better when cooked with olive oil. How roughly or finely you prefer to chop your tomatoes and onions is totally up to you.
- fried or grilled fish (use whole fish or fillets, your choice), 700 to 800 grams
- 4 large and juicy tomatoes chopped
- 2 onions chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 3 sprigs fresh oregano stalks discarded
- 4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
- patis (fish sauce) or salt
- freshly ground pepper
Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan.
Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the onions, tomatoes and oregano.
Season with fish sauce or salt and pepper.
Cook for a minute or so then cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables soften a little.
Pour the sauce over the fish and serve the fish sarciado.
If you like a thinner sarciado, add a little fish stock before simmering the vegetables.