Pesang isda recipe (Pinoy original): Fish with ginger & sayote

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  May 25, 2022

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The pesang isda recipe is an adapted Chinese-influenced dish of fish, rice wash, and ginger.

In a history of the dish as discussed by known food historian Doreen Hernandez, our Filipino term “pesa” comes from the Chinese term “peq-sa-hi” with “peq” and “sa” standing for broth and “hi” for fish.

Literally, then, the term would mean “plain boiled fish”. And that’s exactly how we Filipinos have done pesang isda as well; a stewed fish-based dish!

Another version of this dish substitutes the fish for chicken (pesang manok).
Pesang Isda Recipe (Pinoy Original)
This pesang isda recipe is simple and easy to follow, as this is mainly a ginger stew.

The fish commonly used for this recipe is dalag (murrel) or hito (catfish); however, you can actually use any type of fish for this recipe. One perfect substitute is tilapia.

Aside from fish, the recipe also includes heaps of sliced ginger to counter the strong fishy smell of the fish and also to act as the main driver of the taste in this dish.

Also included are peppercorns (very important since this will give another layer of pungency to the dish), napa cabbage or cabbage, and pechay.
Pesang Isda

Check out this video by YouTuber Localife Phillippines to see how pesang isda is made:

 

Pesang isda recipe and preparation tips

For the broth itself, this pesang isda recipe would tell you that you have to use rice wash so that the broth will be white and more on the textured side. If, however, you don’t want the rice wash, plain water will do.

For more flavor, you can add a fish broth cube or seasoning.
Pesang Isda Recipe

Pesang Isda Recipe (Pinoy Original)

Pesang isda recipe (Pinoy original)

Joost Nusselder
The psang isda recipe is an adapted Chinese-influenced dish of fish, rice wash, and ginger. It's a simple fish stew dish you'll love.
4 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 4 people
Calories 450 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs lapu-lapu (or other white fish of your choice) cleaned and cut into serving pieces
  • 2 thumb-sized ginger peeled and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed and peeled
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ tsp peppercorns
  • 2 pcs sayote (pear squash) peeled, seeds removed and cut into wedges
  • 1 small Napa cabbage washed, trimmed, and quartered
  • 4 stalks green onions washed, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2 inch length
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cups water (or rice water is better)
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Sprinkle lapu-lapu with salt. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic, onion, and ginger in vegetable oil until onion is almost translucent.
  • Add water and bring to a boil. Add fish sauce and peppercorns.
  • Let it simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors in the soup.
  • Add fish and sayote. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sayote is almost cooked.
  • Add Napa cabbage and green onions. Simmer for about 3 minutes or just until wilted but still crisp.
  • Remove from heat. Serve hot with rice.

Notes

In this recipe for pesang isda, I used lapu-lapu. You can substitute this with your favorite choices, like tilapia, mahi-mahi, bangus, and more.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcal
Keyword Fish, seafood
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Once the dish is served, you can either have fish sauce (patis) or fish paste (bagoong) as a side dip for added flavor. You can also have siling labuyo for an even stronger kick to your taste buds!

This dish serves as a viand for both lunch and dinner and with its broth favored when temperatures are low.

Aside from pesang isda, you can also try my pesang manok recipe. Comments and suggestions are very much welcome!

Mabuhay!!

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.