Tinapang Tawilis – An Unexpected Discovery

Tinapang Isda is the local term for smoked fish. Fishes like galunggong (hardtail mackerel or round scad) and bangus (milk fish) are boiled with salt, sun dried for a few hours, and placed in a smoker to cook some more and absorb the smoke.

When you go to your local market to purchase tinapa, it is more likely that you’ll end up getting Tinapang Galunggong, but if you are persistent enough, you’ll be able to find Tinapang Bangus. Tinapang Galunggong is the most common smoked fish and the most sellable because it is much cheaper than the later.

Do you know how to make tinapa? I haven’t made one from scratch yet but I have an idea on how to make it; thanks to the TV Show, Batibot. I’m not sure if you were already born during that time, but it was not so long ago. There was a “how to” segment in some episodes that shows kids how things are made. They get the attention of everyone through the jingle that they play on the background; the jingle goes something like this “Tinapang Bangus, Tinapang Bangus, Masarap ang Tinapang Bangus….weeeee”. Did it help you remember? Sometimes, it is nice to take a trip down memory lane.

Now, let’s divert our attention to Tinapang Tawilis which should be the star of this post. Have you have tried Tinapang Tawilis? I wasn’t able to try this tinapa variety when I was in the Philippines because I did not know that this existed. It was not until last week that I mistakenly bought a pack from the Filipino Food Store.

I was in a hurry and needed some tuyo for the Creamy Tuyo Pesto that I recently posted. Since Tinapang Tawilis looks exactly like tuyo and since I did not read the package, I ended-up buying a different fish. It was a blessing in disguise though because I was able to discover something worth sharing to you guys. As for me, I travelled back 10 miles to the Filipino store somewhere in Niles, IL for the tuyo.

Lessons learned: looks can be deceiving; read the package before buying.

To those of you who are not familiar with tawilis, this is a fresh water fish from the sardine family. It is believed that this fish can only be found in the Philippines; they can be fished from the waters of Taal Lake in Batangas.

Cooking tinapa is easy. All you need to do is pan-fry the fish for a few minutes per side then it is done. The thing that I like most about tinapang tawilis is the taste. Tawilis are known to be very tasty; once the fish sucks-up the smoky flavor during the smoking process, the taste becomes more exquisite. For me, Tinapang Tawilis is best served with sinangag and spiced vinegar. How do you like tinapang tawilis or any tinapa variety served?


Related Content

Panlasang Pinoy Cookbook Download a FREE copy of the Panlasang Pinoy eCookbook Volume 1. Register now!

Enter your email address:


  1. I like it with rice and diced up tomatoes and onions. spiced vinegar is also good ~Chelo

  2. christian allarde says:

    I love tawilis everytime we go to Tagaytay, I would order some Tawilis. I love it crispy with vinegar.

Leave a Comment