This next #FKEDUP collaboration piece comes with photos, a recipe, and a food-centric essay by Cris Mercado in response to UniPro's featured writing prompt for January, which was:

What Filipino food do you identify with the most and why?


My Milkfish Brings All The Girls To The Yard!

by Cris Mercado Featured image: @FilipinoKitchen, instagram photos: @FilipinoFoodMovement If we truly are what we eat, then I'm Bangus- otherwise known as Milkfish. But I'm not that sanitized, boneless small version you see at restaurants. I'm grown. I'm full-flavored and I'm prickly as hell. See that's the thing with me and Bangús: It will take some patience and effort to enjoy the unique taste we bring.
Put Bangús in Sinigang (tamarind stew), or roast it with onions and tomatoes, or just deep fry it, and you will be amazed at its distinctive flavor. If you're lucky enough to have the whole fish, the taste will leave you wanting to suck the head until it has no contents left. There's also the belly fat portion that has a richness so lovely, I always save it for last. You almost have to eat Bangús with a large side of bland white rice as a break from the flavor. Yes, it tastes THAT good. After all, it is the national fish of the Philippines!
But what scares people away are the thousands of small bones you have to remove to enjoy the meaty parts. You literally have to deconstruct Bangús to enjoy it. Break it apart with a fork, and use your fingers to pull out the small bones one-by-one. If you're not careful, one bite can simultaneously have your your taste buds in ecstasy while you are gasping for air as small bones get stuck in the back of your throat. My parents always said to have a banana ready to eat in case the Bangús bones left me choking. I think that advice is for the careless cowards who don't know how to fully appreciate an amazing catch of the day when they see it.
  This heightened intercourse between unrelentingly delicious flavor and unapologetic prickliness is why I love Bangús and why I identify with it. You're forced to be adventurous and get your hands dirty if you want to enjoy it. It's going to take a lot of time and resilience to break us into pieces that can give you one of the most delectable experiences in your life. But whether you handle it with proper care or not, I guarantee you this: Your last bite only leads to your next bite.  

More Bangus please...

If that wasn't enough to get you hungry for bangus, check out The Errant Diner's rendition of Poisson En Papillote” that uses the milkfish.

If there is a Filipino Food you identify with, share your own answer with us by submitting it here!


ABOUT OUR #FKEDUP COLLABORATORS!

With this collaboration Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) aims to push forward the Filipino Food Movement. Engaging Filipino Americans in not only dialogue, creation but also consumption of some of their favorite and least favorite dishes will explore where Filipino Cuisine stands and where Filipino Cuisine is heading.

Throughout Paolo Espanola's childhood years in Saudi Arabia, his teen years in a seminary in rural Wisconsin, his collegiate tribulations in Minnesota, and finally in the concrete jungle of New York, food has always been a large part of his life. Paolo has dabbled in blogging, catering, and throwing pop-up dinners as The Errant Diner. Check out his blog for all things food, from philosophical rants, culinary techniques, event reviews, and the occasional recipe.

Through our cuisine, Filipino Kitchen connects Filipinos everywhere with our cultural heritage and the possibilities of our shared future. Filipino Kitchen documents with photography, interviews, stories and recipes, the makers and appreciators of Filipino cuisine and its continuing evolution. Currently based in Chicago and Southern California, we cook our delicious cuisine and share it with our communities at pop-up brunches, dinners and other food events. Through connecting across the diaspora with our shared love and pride of our food, we hope to lead a long-coming renaissance. The masterminds and masterhearts behind Filipino Kitchen are three Filipino Americans: writer Sarahlynn Pablo, photographer Natalia Roxas-Alvarez and chef AC Boral of so good & delicious. Filipino Kitchen is online at http://filipino.kitchen and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Errant Diner: Twitter/Instagram: @errant_diner

Filipino Kitchen Twitter/Instagram: @filipinokitchen

UniPro Twitter/Instagram: @unipronow