How to cook

Totsong Bangus

totsong bangus

Totsong Bangus brings back memories of childhood.  It came up in a conversation with my cousins.  Many in our generation do not know how to cook it because we have always relied on our parents to make the dish.  We thought it is about time we started collecting and compiling family recipes.  So it can be passed on to the next generation.  Sharing this dish which my mom learned from Lola Charing (Lola Tanda).  


  1.  Fresh bangus (boneless better)
  2. Ginger
  3. Garlic
  4. Onion
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Tahure
  7. Vinegar
  8. Patis (fish sauce)
  9. Cooking oil
  10. Water

Preparing the fish

Clean the bangus / milk fish by removing its gills, scales, and intestines.  Wash thoroughly until you do not see any trace of blood.  Slice with the portions an inch thick like in the picture.  Submerge the cuts under water for 15 minutes to remove any remaining lansa.  Drain.  Apply a bit salt to season the fish.  

Cook the fish

Fry the fish.  Half cook it only so it remains tender.  Do not worry as it will cook more thoroughly later with the rest of the ingredients.  For now, set the fish aside.   

Prepare the other ingredients

Julienne cut the ginger.  Dice cut the tomatoes and onions.  The garlic can be done any which way.  It would not affect the taste.  The traditional cut for garlic in totso though is thinly sliced crosswise.   

Mash the tahure

mashed tahure

If you have no access to store bought tahure, you can make your own fermented bean curd.  Click here >>

Putting it all together

In a pan, fry the ginger in oil.  Add the garlic, onion and tomatoes.  Sauté well.  Add the mashed tahure and some water.  Let it simmer for a bit.  Before you add the vinegar, taste.  Add patis or fish sauce if needed.  Totso is slighty salty with a hint of sour.  You balance these two flavors.  A bit of caution: once you add the vinegar, do not stir until after it starts boiling again.  The older cooks will tell you mahihilaw iyong suka (the vinegar will not cook)  if you do otherwise and no matter how long you simmer it, the vinegary taste will not blend well with the rest of the dish.  Taste again if you have achieved that balance between salty and sour that is characteristic of totso.  Correct by adding what is lacking.  Once the taste seems right to you, add the bangus.  Simmer for about five minutes at least.  Then done.