Dagupan's Bonuan Bangus - The Best There Is

We Filipinos have this deep love affair with milkfish or Bangus (the Philippines' national fish) that has been going on for as long as I can remember. And who could blame us when it tastes so darn good and no other fish comes close to its unique flavor. I have tasted Bangus produced from a variety of provinces such as Western Pangasinan, like Bolinao and Alaminos, and even some from Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan. I was pretty much satisfied with all of them, that is, until I had the opportunity to taste the milkfish that comes from Dagupan. 

The Bonuan Bangus in my honest opinion is several notches above the rest. It far surpasses the others, both in the looks and taste department. It's in a class of its own and renders the competition merely ordinary in comparison. Once you've had Bonuan Bangus, you can never go back. You know the huge difference between conventional chicken and native chicken? Well, for me, Bonuan Bangus can be considered native bangus. And here are some of the reasons why this particular milkfish grown specifically in Bonuan is regarded as the best:

  • The water
    The Dagupan river is classified as brackish, which means that it is a combination of fresh and salty water which makes it the perfect place to raise bangus. Some say that this is the real secret or one of the biggest contributing factors to the outstanding and incomparable taste of the Bonuan milkfish. The fresh water comes from Mt. Ampucao in Benguet while the salty water comes from the Lingayen Gulf.

    Due to Dagupan's close proximity to the sea, the tides frequently change. This frequent tidal action regularly flushes the water in the fishpond/river which is the reason why the Bonuan bangus doesn't have an earthy taste or maablir like its cousins grown from different provinces in the country. The regular flushing of the water also contributes to the growth of lablab which the fish feed on.
    The water that comes from the fishponds in Bonuan is also another contributing factor to the outstanding taste of the fish. The Dagupan river is classified as brackish, which is a combination of fresh and salty water. To some, this is the real secret as to why Bonuan bangus tastes better. The fresh water comes from Mt. Ampucao in Benguet and the salty water comes from the Lingayen Gulf. This makes the Dagupan river all the more preferable for raising bangus.  - See more at: http://doonposaamin.ph/articles/plants-and-animals-to-discover/7-reasons-why-the-bonuan-bangus-is-the-best-from-the-rest#sthash.sXuP85c2.dpuf
  • The soil
    The sweet taste of the Bonuan Bangus is partly influenced by the clayish soil condition in Dagupan fishponds and rivers. Studies show that the soil was found to be low in phosporus and high in calcium. The bones of the fish are bigger due to the high level of calcium concentration and this allows for more meat. The nutrients present in the soil is also essential for the growth of the lablab.
  • The feeds
    The authentic Bonuan bangus exclusively feeds on a naturally-grown aquatic plant called lablab which consists of diatoms, planktons, and benthic blue algae. This a unique feeding method practiced by Bonuan local fish growers that has been passed down through generations. In order to grow lablab, the water from the fishponds have to be flushed out and allowed to dry for a day.
How to spot the Authentic Bonuan Bangus:
  • Weight - cannot exceed more than 250 grams due to their diet (lablab)
  • Small mouth (only feeds on fine algae)
  • Short round head (from the constant diving downwards to eat)
  • Shorter lower fin (from grazing the bottom of the river when they feed on lablab)
  • Fat yet firm protruding semi-round tummy, solidly textured
  • Scales - finer, shinier and visibly smaller
Don't be fooled, some vendors around the metro actually cut the lower fins to make it shorter and pass them off as Bonuan Bangus when they are far from it. Remember that the shorter lower fin isn't the only distinct characteristic of the best milkfish from Dagupan.

My family and I were very fortunate to have sampled bangus grown from Dagupan in the form of boneless daing and tinapa, care of Ricky's Original Dagupan-Bonuan Boneless Bangus. The minute we sat down to dinner we all just devoured the lot and forgot about taking pictures. Quite frankly, during the cooking process we were all hovering by the kitchen since the whole house was smelling so tasty once the fish hit the pan. No wonder they were destroyed in a matter of minutes the second the plates were down. We did manage to say a prayer of thanks to the Lord first but that was our limit since we are bangus lovers.

Try out Ricky's Original Dagupan-Bonuan Boneless Bangus for authentic Bonuan milkfish, for inquiries please contact them through A-Rest-Tea Place, they have a booth there in front of Food City near the Bamboo Organ Church in Las Pinas.


Article published on August 25, 2015