How to Cook Milkfish

milkfish fry
This milkfish was fried with the head attached. (Image: antoni halim/iStock/Getty Images)

Milkfish, also called bangus or Chanos chanos, is a fatty fish that you can cook with simple preparation. This fish lives in warm waters around islands in the Indo-Pacific. Milkfish is common fare in the Philippines but may not always be readily available at your grocer. If you do not have milkfish you can substitute mullet. Milkfish can be cooked a variety of ways, including broiling and pan-frying.


Step 1

Clean your milkfish after making an opening at the back of the fish and removing the gills, intestines and any blood clots. Do not remove the fish’s scales.

Step 2

Sprinkle the inside of the fish with salt and pepper.

Step 3

Chop one medium onion and six medium tomatoes. Mix the onions and tomatoes. Stuff the fish with this mixture.

Step 4

Wrap your milkfish with banana leaves. Tie it with cooking twine to keep the leaves on.

Step 5

Broil the fish for half an hour or until it reaches desired doneness.

Pan Fry

Step 1

Clean and scale your milkfish. Also remove the head. Open the fish from the back, leaving the stomach uncut. Cut from the tail to the back of the neck.

Step 2

Pat your fish dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper.

Step 3

Mix 1/3 cup vinegar, 2 tsp. minced garlic and ¼ tsp. each of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place the milkfish in the dish with the fish’s inside facing down. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Step 4

Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a pan. Fry the fish in the oil. Cook until it reaches desired doneness--about four to eight minutes depending on the size of your fish. Turn the milkfish with a spatula about halfway through cooking.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife

  • Salt and pepper

  • Onion

  • Tomato

  • Banana leaves

  • Cooking twine

  • Paper towel

  • Vinegar

  • Garlic

  • Bowl

  • Shallow dish

  • Saute pan or broiling pan

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