Eating Tilapia is Worse than Eating Bacon

Tilapia! It is not our favorite fish. It is affordable. It is a fish but no disagreeable fishy smell. Easy to clean, both entrails and scales. Easy to eat, as meat separates easily from bones. Quick cooking. And ultimately, it taste good. It is not our favorite fish but our habit is contradicting.

We cannot feast on meat, especially pork. We often resort to fruits and vegetables and fish as protein source. However, it seems our fish choice is worse than pork meat according to studies. I heard it several times already. Not once, not twice.

Last heard from Aksyon TV. A study conducted by Wake Forest University and published by American Dietetic Association found this out. Tilapia has more bad omega 6 fatty acid than beneficial omega 3. The combination may cause inflammation resulting to heart disease, arthritis and asthma. It is worse than eating bacon, as mentioned.

This bad news is not blamed on fish itself but how they are grown nowadays. Most traded tilapia are raised inside fish pens and ponds. Given specially formulated feeds and supplement to reach maximum size in the shortest possible time. Kinda similar to pig fattener and broiler chickens.

I see beyond omega 6. The tilapia we are consuming are loaded with artificial feeds, antibiotics, growth promotants, supplements and other chemicals of unknown safety.

Philippine is the 5th largest producer of tilapia globally.

The Steamed Tilapia With Mayonnaise


1 big fresh tilapia
1 big white onion
1 small sachet mayonnaise
a pinch of salt


1) Wash the fresh tilapia. Scrub off the scales and remove the entrails.

2) Slice the white onion. Mix it with the mayonnaise. Spread the mixture around tilapia and wrap it carefully with aluminum foil.

3) Steam for 30 minutes.

4) Serve.

steamed tilapia with mayonnaise

Tilapia Fish Kill in Lake Cebu

The common trade practice for tilapia is selling them alive. They are placed in a large water bath or basins. Electronic aerators are provided to provide ample supply of oxygen and keep the fish alive. My clothes often got wet when passing near a group of tilapia fish vendors. Live tilapia swimming and wagging their bodies causes the water to strike to all directions and wetting all objects in its path. Vendors having the most aggressive fish usually got the crowd. Every customer has a chance to choose fish. The vendor will then tap the fish with side of the knife and remove the gills and entrails.

So what to do when frozen tilapia fish are found? Just ignore them and find another vendor. Ignore even if the cost is lower.

In the next few days you might find frozen tilapia in public markets. Reason is the fish kill in Lake Cebu. About 48.5 tons of tilapia were found dead – 3.8 million approximated value. The figure is expected to rise cause the upwelling usually last for six days.

According to BFAR, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the incidence is due to lack of  dissolved oxygen. Frequent rains cause rising of warm water resulting to oxygen depletion. The growing  number of commercial fish cages also contributes.

Double dead fish are not safe for human consumption.


The Kinulob na Tilapia

In our home town the term “kinulob or kulob” means forcing mature mango or banana to ripen quickly. In a large bamboo bucket, several layers of plastic and newspapers are lined. Known amount of calcium carbide is placed at bottom. The fruits are arranged neatly then covered with newspapers and plastic. The setup is set aside overnight. The fruit ripens the next day after removing from bamboo bucket.

This recipe also uses the word “kinulob” but I think it refers to a different meaning. This recipe was contributed by my  better half. She never gave further details.

150g mustard leaves, boiled and mashed
1/4 cup turmeric, finely chopped or crushed
1/2 cup native tomatoes, halves
1/4 cup quatered onions
2 pieces large sampalok
1/2 cup gabi, chopped, small pieces
2 cups water
1/2 kg tilapia

1) Fry tilapia for few minutes and set aside.
2) Place all the ingredients in a pan except mustard leaves.
3) Simmer for 15 minutes or until the tilapia is done.
4) Add the mustard leaves and serve.

The dish taste more sour than a regular pork paksiw. The quantity of sampalok and tomatoes could be lessened to reduce sourness.

kinulob na tilapia

How to Cook Tinolang Tilapia

tinolang tilapia

1/2 kilograms raw papaya, sliced
1 medium tilapia
2 onions, sliced
ginger, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
patis to taste (fish sauce)

1) Saute onions, ginger and garlic over a very low fire until tender or golden brown. This will prevent scorching and will allow better flavor development.
2) Add raw papaya slices and water to soak up the papaya.
3) Bring to slow boil until the papaya slices are tender. Do not overcooked.
4) Mix patis (fish sauce) to taste.
5) Carefully place the tilapia in middle and continue boiling for five minutes.
6) Serve.

tinolang tilapia

Ginataang Tilapia and Kalamismis (in Coconut Milk)

ginataang tilapia with kalamismis

1 medium tilapia fish
2 cups coconut milk, gata ng niyog
1 medium onion, sliced
1 thumb sized ginger, sliced
5 pieces kalamismis / sigarilyas, cut
salt to taste

1) Bring coconut milk to boil for 5 minutes.
2) Add onions, ginger, and sigarilyas. Continue boiling for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
3) Add the tilapia fish. Cook for three minutes. Add salt to taste.

ginataang tilapia with kalamismis

Concentration of coconut milk will affect the taste of ginataan. Extract one grated coconut with two cups of warm water (about 40°C ).  Extracted milk should fill two cups. Repeat extraction with small amount of warm water to fill the cups.  Coconut milk concentration can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the amount of grated coconut.