With the plethora of fish in the Philippine seas, it would be difficult to know them all by name. Many are probably more familiar with their physical traits than their local, scientific, and common names.
We’ve compiled Tagalog and English terms of some fish and seafood that one might need to know if they’re buying them in a local market, grocery store, or even abroad.
Dive right in and learn their translations as well as some ways to enjoy them:
Anchovy (Engraulidae) is the English word for dilis. This small fish can be eaten as an appetizer, either dried or fried, and can also be paired with rice.
Galunggong is the local name of round scad (Decapterus punctatus). Others also call it mackerel scad or blackfin scad. This fish can be served in a number of ways, but it is typically deep-fried or cooked with vinegar.
Another kind of fish is slipmouth or sapsap (Leiognathidae). It is a common ingredient in Filipino fish stews and soups such as paksiw and pangat.
The same goes for long-jawed mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), or alumahan in Tagalog.
Of course, we wouldn’t leave out the unofficial Philippine national fish: bangus or milkfish (Chanos chanos). This fish is widely farmed nationwide. There are many scrumptious recipes that one can do with bangus also. Oftentimes, it is stuffed with tomato and onions and then grilled.
Next are two kinds of seafood: sugpo or tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon), and alimango or mud crab (Scylla serrata). These can be enjoyed when cooked in coconut milk.
Then there’s frigate tuna (Auxis thazard), a saltwater fish that is called tulingan in the Philippines. Sinaing na tulingan, or braised fish, is a popular tulingan dish from Batangas.
In Tagalog, threadfin bream (Nemipteridae) is bisugo, yellowtail fusilier (Caesio cuning) is dalagang bukid, grouper (Epinephelinae) is lapu-lapu, and catfish (Siluriformes) is hito.
One thing they have in common is they are an ingredient in a Filipino dish called pangat or pinangat na isda in which the fish is stewed in a sour sauce with tomatoes.
Finally, maya-maya is the Tagalog word for red snapper (Lutjanidae). This is another saltwater fish available in local markets.
Most of the items mentioned are staples in Filipino households. We hope this list helps you learn and remember the Tagalog and English names of these common fish and seafood in the country!