Pressure-cooked sweet and sour bisugo (Threadfin bream) Pressure-cooked sweet and sour bisugo

The traditional way of cooking sweet and sour fish is to use large fish, dredge it in starch, deep fry it until crisp, then pour the sweet and sour sauce over it. This version of sweet and sour fish has no frying involved. Small bisugo (Threadfin bream) about four inches long from head to tail are pressure cooked with the ingredients for sweet and sour sauce until every part of the fish — including bones, head and tail — is tender and edible. Yes, sardines style. The minimal amount of liquid and the long cooking time allows the sugar and shallots to caramelize, turning the cooking liquid into amber.

This is the third pressure-cooked fish recipe in this blog. The first, the sardine-style bangus (milkfish) in tomato sauce, was published way back in 2003. The second, the pressure cooker salay-ginto (yellowstripe scad) with coconut milk was published a couple of months ago.

Why the long interval between the two? It took time finding a replacement for the pressure cooker’s rubber sealing ring. But now that the pressure cooker is in prime condition once more, I want to do a lot more sardine-style pressure-cooked fish dishes. They are so tasty, so economical and so easy to make. Pressure-cooked sweet and sour bisugo

Recipe: Pressure-cooked sweet and sour fish


  • 2 tbsps. of cooking oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsps. of chopped ginger
  • 2 bird’s eye chilis, chopped
  • 500 g. of small bisugo (or your fish of choice), about 6 to 8 pieces, each no more than four inches long
  • 1/4 c. of vinegar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c. of sugar, depending on how you like your sweet and sour sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sliced scallions (green onions), for garnish


  1. Pour the oil into the pressure cooker and heat. Saute the garlic, shallots, ginger and chilis just until fragrant.
  2. Turn off the heat. Arrange the fish in a single layer on top of the sauteed vegetables.
  3. In a bowl, stir the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together with one and one-half cups of water. Pour into the pressure cooker with the fish.
  4. Throw in the bay leaves.
  5. Seal the pressure cooker. Turn on the stove on its highest setting. When the valve starts to turn, set the heat to the lowest setting and count 90 minutes.
  6. After 90 minutes, turn off the heat and wait for about 10 minutes to allow the pressure in the cooker to dissipate.
  7. Unlock the pressure cooker top and voila! Sweet and sour fish with every bit edible. Garnish with sliced scallions and serve.
  8. Speedy and I had the sweet and sour pressure-cooked bisugo with arroz verde last night. The recipe for the arroz verde coming up.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 3

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The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

7 Responses

  1. Talia says:

    A question from someone not very well-versed with the small fish of the Philippines… What other small fish would be good for pressure cooking?

  2. Love to eat the whole fish, this is nutritious than fying…

  3. emyM says:

    My first time cooking pressure cooked sardines turned into a big time disaster…
    totally burnt.
    I will surely give this a try.

  4. dewsi says:

    wow! sana may ‘like’ button din dito. :)
    this i will try. hubby had tried to pressure cook galunggong before. but he put olive oil and salt only with bay leaf and whole peppercorns, trying to imitate the commercial canned fish. it turned out really good and tasty.
    with your recipe, i’ll try this myself, with the fish in my freezer sitting for a week now. less mess and easy, di na kailangang bantayan. thanks, ms. connie!

  5. emyM, that happened to me too years ago when I was doing the “sardines in olive oil” variation. Turned out I used more olive oil than water and the fish “fried” in the pressure cooker. :-P

    Dewsi, o, I tried that too but wasn’t successful. Must have sufficient water pala hahahaha