SOMETIME last year, I had the pleasure of accompanying Chef Claude Tayag to Pasil, the fishing port/ seafood market of Cebu.
He was gathering material for a new food show, which eventually aired as “Chasing Flavors.”
Chef Claude wanted to see how Linarang was made. In a well-known carinderia, as early as 6 a.m., people were lined up waiting for their bowl of Linarang.
I introduced Chef Calude to the lady cooking the dish and asked her permission to film the process.
That morning, the fish used was Mam-sa. In a big kawa (cauldron), the cook sautéed a plateful each of garlic, sliced onions, ginger, tomatoes. Water was then poured into the mix, filling about two-thirds of the kawa.
It was left to boil for 10 minutes and then the fish was added. A little vinegar was poured into this and after another 10 minutes, a whole plateful of thinly sliced Sibuyas Bisaya (spring onion) was added.
Early in the morning, this hearty soup is a favorite of fish traders and cargadores (men who carry tubful of fishes) who do business in Pasil.
More exotic sea life like Moray Eel and Stingray are also made into Linarang.
These are prized ingredients for some.
The Linarang of today is a far cry from how it was cooked back in the early 20th century.
When I was writing my book “Hikay, The Culinary Heritage of Cebu,” I had the privilege of perusing “Lagda sa Pagpanluto,” a cook book written in 1924 by Maria F. Vda de Rallos in 1924.
One of the recipes I found in this book is that of Linarang nga Isda.
This recipe is not of a soup but one similar to Escabeche, which has a bit of sauce.
In the original Linarang, the ingredient that characterizes it is salted black beans, which is added to the garlic, ginger, onion, tomato base.
The fish is fried before adding it to the sautéed base. Just enough water is added to cover the fish.
I suspect this dish is something we learned from the Chinese.
The salted black beans which we also put in Humba is a giveaway!
It is interesting how recipes evolve. My guess is that we tweak recipes to adapt to the needs of the people who are going to eat it.
In the case of Linarang, we can see how the cargadores in the fish market need something hot to stave off hunger and cold.
What better sustenance on a cold morning than this gingery hot soup Somehow, the salted black beans have been removed, more water was added, and the fish was dropped into the soup without first frying it.
But the name of the dish was retained.In most Cebuano households, Linarang is still cooked the original way.
But most people call it Fish with Tausi. I will share with you the original recipe of Linarang nga Isda from Dona Maria F. Vda. de Rallos.