Tinapa (smoked fish)

When you’ve been eating too much meat (which is usual at this time of year) for days, you start dreaming of something simpler, something more basic… like tinapa. Tinapa is the Philippines’ smoked fish. It is a popular breakfast item served with fried eggs and salted diced tomatoes.


Almost any fish can be made into tinapa. Today, our choices are no longer limited to the usual tinapang galunggong (shortfin scad), tinapang tamban (gold-striped sardinella) or tinapang bangus (milkfish). We have tinapang tilapia and even tinapang salmon. And they are all delicious!

I’ve been interested in making my own tinapa for some months now. See, I really don’t like small fish with even smaller bones that I have to pick painstakingly in order to enjoy my tinapa. I figured why not smoke a whole tuna belly and enjoy it minus the fish bones? I’ve been searching for the process for a long time. But, it seems, that some tinapa-makers keep the process a secret. I managed to find something on the website of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) but, gee, someone left out the info on what to use for the actual smoking which made the entire description of the process useless. I mean, what use would I have for a detailed decription on how to prepare the fish when I have no inkling about what to throw into the fire to produce the smoke that will give the fish it’s distinct flavor and aroma?

Anyway, we were in the supermarket yesterday and decided I would enjoy my tinapa even if I can’t make them at home.

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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)