Among the Filipino soup dishes, pesang dalag has got to be one of the easiest to prepare — if dalag (mudfish) is available. The thing is, pesa — defined by the blend of spices in the broth rather than the kind of fish used — can be cooked with any kind of fleshy fish and even with fish heads. Yesterday, however, I was at the market and there were these huge dalag jumping and wiggling inside large nets and only two things entered my mind: pesa and binukakang dalag. I bought two large fish with a total weight of two kilograms. One went into the pesa that we had for lunch; the other was fried for dinner and served with clam soup.
If the recipe seems lengthy, it’s because I am including the recipe for miso sauce. I used yellow miso, usually saltier than white which is on the sweet side.
Make the dipping sauce first so that by the time the pesang dalag is done, the miso dipping sauce is ready to be served on the side.
Miso Dipping Sauce for Pesang Dalag
- 2 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
- 1 onion
- 1 tomato
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup yellow miso
- fish sauce to taste
- Roughly chop the onion and tomato. Mince the garlic.
- Heat the cooking oil and sauté the garlic, onion and tomato until they start to soften.
- Add the miso and stir. The mixture will appear much too dry at this point.
- Add water little by little, no more than a few tablespoonfuls at a time, until the mixture is of the desired consistency. Some people like the sauce to be almost soupy; others prefer it thick.
- When the consistency of the miso sauce is just right, add fish sauce to taste. Cook, stirring, for another minute.
Pesang Dalag With Miso Dipping Sauce
- 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
- 1 large onion finely sliced
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed and peeled
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (or more) of whole black peppercorns
- 1 whole dalag (mudfish), about 1 kg., scaled, gutted and scrubbed well to remove the slime, and cut to serving size pieces
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- handful of pechay (bok choy), cut up
- Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato and peppercorns. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften a little.
- Add the fish. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. Pour in enough water to cover. Season with fish sauce. Bring to the boil. Remove any froth (scum) that floats to the surface.
- Add the pechay to the pot, pushing the leaves down into the broth.
- Continue boiling for a minute then cover the pot and turn off the heat. Both the fish and greens will continue cooking in the residual heat. I find this the best way not to overcook them.
- Serve the pesang dalag with miso dipping sauce on the side