The most common misconception about grilled panga (jaw) ng tuna is that it is something complicated to prepare. Actually, it’s the easiest thing to cook.
The first thing about grilling panga ng tuna is a well-cut panga. Some fish vendors cheat and chop a single piece of panga and sell them separately. Look for whole cuts of panga so you get all the meat. The average size is a little under a kilo.
Wash the tuna well and remove any traces of blood. Pat dry with paper towels. Take a piece of ginger and rub all over the fish to remove the fishy odor. Alternatively, grill the fish with a few stalks of leeks. Season with salt and pepper. You may also want to sprinkle the fish with finely minced garlic.
Personally, I don’t like squeezing kalamansi (native citrus) on the fish prior to grilling since it tends to detract from the natural flavor of the fish.
If you intend to charcoal-grill the panga, I suggest wrapping them individually in banana leaves to avoid burning the outside of the fish. Wrapping them isn’t necessary if you oven-grill the fish or if you cook them on an electric grill since you will be able to control the temperature.
Now, the tricky part. The most important thing to remember is not to overcook the fish. You want the inside to be “just cooked” and the outside slightly browned. Overcooking panga will turn it dry. How long you need to cook it depends on its size and thickness. In a pre-heated 200oC oven, cooking time was about 15 minutes.
Serve your grilled panga with a dipping sauce. This could be a mixture of kalamansi juice and soy sauce. Or, you might prefer something more spicy like a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chopped onions, garlic and chilies.