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Daing na Bangus (Milkfish Marinated in Vinegar & Garlic)

If there's one fish that's really popular in the Philippines, it's bangus (milkfish). Not only is it the country's national fish, it also has a mild sweet flesh and melt-in-the-mouth thick belly fat that make it superior to other locally available fish. Despite its being quite difficult to eat because it has lots of thin spines, milkfish is a versatile fish that can be cooked in different recipes like Sinigang, Paksiw, Totso and Cardillo. It is also delicious even when simply grilled or fried. 

There is this dish called Daing na Bangus that we, Filipinos really love to eat for breakfast. It is milkfish marinated in vinegar and garlic then fried and eaten with steamed rice or sinangag (fried rice). In the Philippines, daing na bangus is readily available in the supermarkets. Though it is also available in Asian stores here in the US, I still prefer to make it from scratch. It's kinda time consuming especially because I prefer to have the bangus deboned (so that it will be easier to eat),  but it's all worth it! At least I am sure that my Daing na Bangus tastes the way I want it and it has no preservatives.

The other weekend, I found a good bangus at the Asian store and I decided to make it into daing. It was a lot easier this time because the hubs volunteered to debone it for me. A number of PiTCC readers have requested me to feature Daing na Bangus, so here it is...

If you are too lazy to undergo the deboning process, it's fine. You can go ahead and marinate the milkfish after cutting it. Anyway, you can just remove the spines while eating it! :)


  • 1 large bangus, about 2 lbs.
  • 1 cup vinegar ( I used 1/2 cup regular cane vinegar and 1/2 cup spicy cane vinegar)
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper

1. With a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, trim the fins and tail of the bangus. 

2. Split bangus on the dorsal side starting from the tail to the head by running the edge of the kife along the backbone.
3. Lay fish open like butterfly fillet. Remove gills and innards. Wash fish in running water to remove blood. 
4. Remove backbone by laying fish flat on the cutting board with the skin down. Hold the knife in a slanting position and cut in with the tip of the blade along the backbone from the head to tail. 
5. If you want to totally debone your bangus, with the aid of a forcep, pull out the rib bones. Make a superficial slit along the dent of the dorsal muscles and pull out the intermuscular spines embedded between the muscles from the head to the tail. Remove spines in the ventral side in the same manner. Remove filamentous Y-shaped spines along the lateral lines, i.e., the junction of the dorsal and ventral muscles. The diagram below will help you know the exact locations of the spines.
6. Gently wash deboned bangus in running water. Drain. Cut in 4-6 slices. Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper.
7. Combine vinegar, 3 tsp. salt, garlic and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a container with lid. Thoroughly coat the bangus with the mixture and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least three hours. I prefer to do it overnight to get full flavor. 
8. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, fry bangus in 1/2 cup vegetable oil, skinside down first, until both sides are golden brown.
9. Serve with steamed or fried rice with atsara and/or chopped or sliced tomatoes and spicy vinegar  on the side.


  1. Bravo to you going to all the trouble cutting and de-boning that fish. I know that Central Market will do that for you but not so sure about the Asian market. I do not know much about doing all that, but your pictures are very helpful. The final dish does look delicious as well as healthy. Lightly seasoning and pan fried does appeal to me more than the breading and deep fry method. Great post!

    1. Fish deboning isn't available at the nearby Asian store here, just innards removal and I really don't have a choice. Good that I have Ryan to do it for me. :)

  2. That looks delicious! I want that for dinner tonight.

  3. Wonderful pictures and the fish looks amazing! Yumm..

  4. Wow, you are a pro when it comes to deboning...I'm impressed! I haven't heard of milkfish, but I bet your dish is delicious!!!

  5. I like that you have shown how to de-bone and cut the fish Tina because I am not good in doing it. Normally I get the market to chop and cut the fish for me. So, after looking at your pics, I can try doing it myself. Such a simple recipe and lovely crispy coating of the fish once done with the cooking. Yes to this fish and wonderfully pairing with rice and veges.

  6. Great post,just like Nava,I'm not good to de-bone the fish,now I have to try after this post,and the plate,it's so Asian rice and fish,tomato and lettuce,,,oh,,,what not to love about this,it's kind my Mom dinner menu @home :)

  7. I need some tissue here ;D hahahaha DELICIOUSNESS !!!!Love the step by step photos . Ryan had really done a great job de-boning that bangus :D

  8. Great step-by-step instructions! This fish sounds really tasty!

  9. I have heard of milkfish before but never tried it or nor seen it just heard about it. This dish looks delicious

  10. Great tutorial on how to debone. In Japan we learn how to do that in mandatory home and economic class (isn't that funny?), but it's always nice to refreshing your memory. =) I like the vinegar in this fish dish. I don't think Japanese use much vinegar for cooking fish (I have to think about it...but not common for sure). Looks delicious. I like your wide and various repertoire Tina!

  11. This is the best fish cleaning/deboning photos I have ever seen on a food blog. Simply outstanding. The meal looks super yummy and, as a Pescetarian, I'm always happy to see fresh, exciting recipes that include fish. Kudos!

  12. Oh wow - dedication to the deboning of the fish process. Thanks for the super helpful step by step. I'll admit I tend to take the lazy route and just leave the bones in, because I've been a bit intimidated by all the work but you make it look easy!

  13. Yummy. I am ready to eat

  14. this daing na bangus recipe looks delicious!Wanna try it at home

  15. This is great paired with silog. Yum!