Adobong Hito is not only delicious and nutritious, but it's also easy to make and budget-friendly, too. The moist and succulent catfish is pan-fried until crisp and simmered in tangy and savory vinegar and soy sauce mixture until flavorful. Best enjoyed with steamed rice!
Adobong Hito is a variety of Filipino adobo. It uses catfish and the usual adobo ingredients of soy sauce, vinegar, and aromatics, along with ginger to neutralize the fishy smell and tomatoes for an added layer of flavor.
If you're looking for another delicious way to enjoy our quintessential stew, this fish version is a must-try. The savory-tangy flavor of the sauce perfectly blends with the delicate texture of the fish, and the result is just mouthwatering!
- Hito or catfish is a fresh-water fish with black skin and is very slippery. They are known to have a “beard” or “whiskers.” You can also use kanduli, which is another type of catfish and is silvery gray.
- Calamansi and salt- removes the slimy gel that coats the catfish. You can also use vinegar in place of the calamansi.
- Ginger- adds a tangy freshness, light spiciness, and warmth to the dish. It also neutralizes the fishy odor.
- Vinegar- the acidity or sourness brightens the flavor of food.
- Soy Sauce- adds umami and depth of flavor to the dish.
- Roma Tomato- use ripe ones as they are sweeter and juicier
- Sugar- helps balance the saltiness
- Star Anise - adds a sweet-licorice-peppery taste
- Dried bay leaves- adds aroma
How to prepare hito
- Catfish have mucus-covered skin instead of scales, which they use in cutaneous gas exchange (skin breathing/respiration). To remove the slimy film, rub the fish thoroughly with rock salt and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrape the salt off with a blunt knife. Rinse the fish with vinegar or calamansi juice and rub it again with salt. Lastly, rinse it very well with water.
- If grilling the catfish, you can also clean the skin with wood ash (abo) if available.
- They're bottom-feeders and live in muddy, murky waters, and can take on a dirt taste or lasang putik. Buy from a reputable source to ensure the freshest fish.
- You can choose farm-raised catfish, which have a cleaner and milder flavor. If using wild-caught, you can scrub the fish with vinegar or calamansi juice to rid of the muddy taste.
- Although you can cook the catfish straight in the adobo sauce, I recommend pan-frying it first to add crispiness and to keep it from falling apart when simmering in the sauce.
- Cook off the strong vinegar flavor by allowing it to boil uncovered and without stirring for a few minutes before adding the soy sauce and water.
How to serve and store
- Adobong hito is best served with steamed rice as the main entrée for lunch or dinner. It's also delicious as a pulutan with an ice-cold beer.
- Store leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Reheat in a pan over low heat or in the microwave at 2 to 3-minute intervals until thoroughly heated.
- 1 (about 2 pounds) whole catfish, cleaned and gutted
- ¼ cup salt
- 5 calamansi, cut into halves
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic
- ¼ teaspoon peppercorns, cracked
- canola oil
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and julienned
- 1 large Roma tomato, chopped
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 whole star anise
- fried garlic bits
- green onions, chopped
- Rub the fish thoroughly with rock salt and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrape the salt off with a blunt knife. Rub the fish with vinegar or calamansi juice and rub it again with salt. Lastly, rinse it very well with water and cut into a 2-inch thickness.
- In a bowl, combine fish, soy sauce, peppercorns, and half of the garlic. Marinate for about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain fish and scrape off any stray aromatics. Reserve liquid and aromatics.
- In a pan over medium heat, heat about 1-inch deep oil. Add fish and fry until lightly browned and almost cooked. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
- In another pan over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until softened.
- Add tomatoes and cook, mashing with the back of a spoon, until softened and release juice.
- Add vinegar and bring to a boil, uncovered and without stirring, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add reserved soy sauce marinade and aromatics, water, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil.
- Gently add fish, bay leaves, and star anise.
- Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until fish is cooked through and sauce is reduced.
- Transfer fish into a serving plate and garnish with fried garlic bits and green onions, if desired. Serve hot.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”