Mackerel and Spinach Adobo
Recently, I have made the conscious effort and decision to eat better. This is no small feat, as I barely have time to shop and cook (and blog it here) – and I refuse to eat anything that is labelled low-fat, low-calorie and whatever sugar free substitute is out there in the market.
For a time period, I took out egg, beef, bird (chicken, duck and turkey) and shellfish with legs out of my diet. This is because I went to a Chinese herbalist in Manila. Everyone I told about my “new diet” told me that chicken breast is the healthiest cut of meat. Healthier than pork, they say. Whatever! The herbalist must be onto something as I know that poultry causes allergic reactions to some people – but I am possibly validating that because pork is my meat of choice. And I only prefer dark meat chicken, hopefully fried to a crisp!
One of my solutions to this diet is eat more fish. That, and I LOVE FISH – I noticed that I have cooked a lot of it here in my blog, i might as well like what I eat.
To my dieting and the Lenten Season, here’s one of my solutions!
- A bunch of spinach. The kind you get from the Asian supermarket needs a lot of cleaning. You may substitute Chinese Spinach, Water Spinach or something that looks similar. In Tagalog, we call this Kangkong.
- 1 lb of Mackerel (you can get more, just make sure it fits in your pot.)
- Sliced fresh garlic (about 2 cloves)
- Soy Sauce (I use the Filipino brand, Marca Pina. Other brands would be Silver Swan and Datu Puti. I DO NOT RECOMMEND KIKKOMAN for this recipe. Filipino Soy Sauce is relatively cheap, it’s about $2.00 for more than half a liter. I think it takes me a year to finish the bottle.)
- Vinegar (Spiced vinegar has chilies floating in them when you buy them, but this is not necessary. If you have regular white vinegar – that works too. DO NOT GO FANCY AND USE BALSAMIC. See how cheap the spiced vinegar is? $1.79!)
- Fried Garlic – (Find it at the Asian store, or make some for yourself – you will find the process in my Arroz Caldo post. It’s $1.99 worth of happiness to me. Garlic rice in an INSTANT!)
- A tablespoon of cooking oil.
- Frying pan
- Lid to cover it – if you don’t have one, you can use a big enough stainless steel bowl (keep reading, you’ll see what I mean)
Leafy Vegetable Cleaning Procedure:
- Cut off the ends of the vegetable bunch and soak in a big bowl (if cleaning bok choy, dont cut off the ends). Let it soak for about 2 hours. This could be done faster by washing them individually – but why would you want to do that? All the grit and dirt will fall to the bottom of your bowl.
- After an hour, take it out from the bowl of water. You will see the grit settle at the bottom because it is heavier than the leaves. (IMHO – this is what ORGANIC SHOULD BE. Dirty, gritty and ready to be cleaned by me.)
- Repeat the process. You want to make sure that all the dirt is removed.
- Once you had two soaking cycles completed, rinse the vegetables again. Think about hand washing clothes. You must agitate it gently in your last rinse, just to give it a fair shake and make sure that whatever grit was left will be cleaned out. Set aside, and don’t bother drying it.
Mackerel Cleaning Procedure:
- Clean your fish AGAIN. The Asian supermarket makes a good job of gutting out of my fish, but because they do it really fast, they don’t do it as thorough as I want it to be. When they first come out of the bag, it will be bloodier than this. (ew. lol!)
- Check it right under the gills, and inside the stomach! This evidently needs more cleaning!
- Pull out the gills and SNIP!
- Pull out the remaining guts! (oh so dericious!)
- This is what you are trying to achieve. Remember, if you don’t clean this off now, THIS WILL END UP ON YOUR PLATE WHEN YOU EAT IT. Don’t be squeamish, and clean it well!
- In a shallow pan, measure equal parts water, soy sauce and vinegar – this measurement is not set in stone. Some people prefer it to be more acidic, some people prefer it to be more salty. If this is your first time making Adobo, the 1:1:1 ratio works. Adjust it when you make it again. You don’t need to soak the fish in it you’ll just be stewing it in the solution. Add one tablespoon of oil, to avoid the fish from sticking to the bottom. Add sliced garlic. Note: That chili in the picture is from the spiced vinegar bottle.
- Turn on your stove to medium low heat. Once it boils, cover. 5 minutes after it boils, check the fish. Check earlier if your fish is smaller. Yes, my frying pan cover is a stainless steel bowl, because it is dual purpose and it is cheap!
- Check the fish tail – If it has split, you know that that side is done. Flip it over, gently.
- Right after flipping, add the spinach on top. Don’t worry if it’s not thoroughly dried – it’s fine if it is damp. Cover. This is when the big metal bowl cover works – you don’t need to press the spinach down with the cover.
- After about 3-5 minutes, check. The spinach should look like this, and you are done! Arrange on a plate and serve with white rice!
What the fishbones look like:
Dedicated to my friends who always ask me, “where’s the meat? how do I debone it?” Here’s what the fish skeleton looks like. It’s not particularly bony, but just remember that there are bones running sideways, and front and back.
Remember the tummy part? Also remember that there are “fish ribs” there, so remove those too. Happy eating!
Thanks for reading!