This is one fish soup that does not need a fish broth base. All that bangus belly binakol requires are sweet fresh coconut juice, tender coconut meat and a generous amount of ginger. And bangus belly, of course!
Who knew it would work, right? I had my doubts. I had second thoughts. But the itch to experiment was stronger.
Use juice from young coconuts. Fresh coconut juice. The kind that comes in a carton just isn’t good enough. Probably diluted. I don’t really know and I don’t really care. Just use fresh.
Fresh juice from young coconut. Young. Juice from young coconut is sweet. Juice from mature coconut is crap.
If you’re confused, read this to tell the difference between young and mature coconut.
Won’t bone-in bangus yield a richer soup? Yes, sure. But, seriously, who wants to pick bones off? Bangus has a notorious amount of bones and some are so small and they branch out to make matters worse.
You can opt for bone-in bangus but, personally, if bangus isn’t boneless, I’ll pass. A matter of preference.
Bangus Belly Binakol
- Split the coconut (or have it done by the vendor), save the juice and scrape the meat to separate it from the husk.
- Cut the coconut meat into thin strips.
- Cut the bangus belly fillets into one to two-inch pieces. Smaller or larger, that depends on you.
- Peel and thinly slice the shallot and ginger.
- Pick the sili leaves from the stalks; discard the stalks.
- Heat the cooking oil in a sauce pan.
- Saute the ginger and shallot until aromatic, about four minutes.
- Pour in the coconut juice and stir in the coconut meat. Season with patis and pepper. Bring to the boil.
- Add the bangus belly, season with more patis and bring to the boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer for one minute (a little longer if you cut your bangus belly into larger pieces). DO NOT overcook the fish.
- Turn off the heat. Add the sili leaves and push them down into the soup.
- Cover the pan and leave for five minutes to allow the fish to cook completely in the residual heat and to wilt the sili leaves.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving your bangus belly binakol.