Posted by: Jimely Flores | October 30, 2015

Rabbitfishes (danggit) for sustainable plate series

Danggit or rabbit fishes in the Philippines are one of the fave breakfast main courses cutting across all classes of the society, from the really rich folks to the marginal ones. It is served in the most expensive hotels and resorts and also in the carinderias and turo-turo food outlets.

Rabbitfishes just like other fishes are high in protein (21 grams/100g raw), less fat (0.3g/100g raw), less calorie (98/100g raw). A preferred source of protein and calories from meat.

Unfortunately for the Philippines, most of the danggit sold in the market are juvenile individuals, with very high salt content (as mostly dried) and post harvest preparation are not within accepted clean fish preparation standards. Most of the dried species served for breakfast are mixed of Siganus fuscescens, S. canaliculatus, S. guttatus and a few individuals from other species. Length at maturity of these species are 5.6cm for S. fuscescens, 22.6cm for male and 23.9cm for female S. canaliculatus, and
Most of the individuals served for breakfast are less than the indicated sizes of maturities. The length at maturity indicates that at that size, 50% of the population are mature and have the capacity to spawn at least once before they are caught and cook. Not catching these fishes before they reach the length of maturity is important for the sustainability of these very valuable resources. The danggits are mostly salted and dried, with the salt content a thousand higher than the salt needed by a healthy person. Post harvest handling and preparation is way below the standard, washed and dried in unhygienic environment.

Personally, being a field person, I avoided buying and eating dried danggit. I know I was missing so much but thanks for responsible and sustainable mariculture by isdafarms, I could now eat dried and marinated danggit/samaral without burdening my conscience and worrying about my health. Isda farms are culturing samaral/danggit in the waters off Rosario, La Union using the technology of submerged rope framed cages (a more natural method for a happier, healthier fishes). The fishes are supplemented with their natural foods. The company though very small is helping in the creation of livelihood in the small community. Recently, I bought a kilo of their dried danggit/samaral and half-dried (lamaya) marinated in the local Iloco vinegar and garlic. Its a fantastic gastro experience. Finally I will not be missing the joyous experience of eating one of the great Filipino breakfast dish. But so far, I will limit my experience to something trusted, the isda farms samaral/danggit products.

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