Something’s Fishy at SM City in Iloilo

Fish. You either love them or you hate them. My experiences with eating fresh fish back in the States were fairly limited since I lived in Central Illinois most of my life. Now while my Grandpa and my Dad were avid fishermen in their day, getting up before dawn to head out to catch some blue gill and bass, I don't remember my two brothers and I ever getting to eat any of them.  I can remember chowing down on some fried catfish and recall countless meals involving fish sticks which I doubt had much actual fish product in them, but fresh fish? Nope, never had much of a relationship with them. Until now.DSC

Pompano, or Ilat, as it's called at the fish market at SM City in Iloilo, is my favorite new menu item at our house. We can purchase it for P250 a kilo (5.74 US Dollars per kilo, or about $2.39 a pound), and my asawa steams it, adds ginger, sliced jalapeno and serves it on a bed of brown rice. It is absolutely delicious! I can't figure out how something that tastes that good is healthy food. I've mentioned that my spouse is dragging me along on her "health kick" (and I'm going along for the ride, sometimes kicking and screaming, however.)

So while my asawa was going over to the rice section to buy some more brown rice, I stood around the fish area at SM City to take some photos. Life is rough when you have so much spare time that you have to snap pictures of dead fish on ice.

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During a recent trip to the SM Hypermarket to buy a new Sanyo LCD TV, we also did our monthly grocery shopping, and I have to confess I  stopped by their fish section and purchased a kilo of fresh Tilapia for P120 (2.75 USD.) This was probably the first time in over two years that I did not purchase a can of Spam on a grocery trip. Frankly, I'm tired of it. I've eaten the stuff  several times a month since moving to the Philippines in July 2009. I haven't gotten a chance to try Gary Wigle's Special Spam Recipe, but I'm sure I'll be getting some more of the canned mystery meat in the future and try Mr. Wigle's recipe out.

Now don't think I've forgotten about junk food. Not at all. When my asawa and I made the aforementioned visit to the SM City Supermarket to buy the pompano, we had a morning merienda (snack.) My spouse got some fried rice with shrimp at one of the stands inside the supermarket, and I got two slices of Greenwich pepperoni pizza for P49 (1.12 USD),  and let me tell you that greasy pepperoni tasted great.

Did not find one single vendor that had soda dispensing machines (checked with four outlets) which had any soda available. My asawa went back into the supermarket to buy us a couple of cans. I asked  one young lady why no one had any soda available though they all had dispensers She told me that no deliveries have been made. Well, that does create a problem then. Can't sell a product if you don't have it.

While waiting for my wife to come back with our drinks, I walked over to the one solitary guy working at the stand called  "Hot Chicks." I asked him where the "hot chicks" were, because I only could see him, and he's a guy. With a puzzled look on his face, he said "we have chickens, sir, they are right here" as he pointed to their roasted birds. "I know," I told him, "I'm just messing with you." Told the asawa what I did when she returned with our sodas, and she just shook her head and rolled her eyes. Seen that look before. Probably will see it again.

Author: The Kano
POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 20 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

14 thoughts on “Something’s Fishy at SM City in Iloilo

  1. Dave,

    Thats a pretty good selection of fish they have. We usually have the guy scale and gut, but was told most locals like to grill the fish whole, guts and all. I think thats one reason of the smelly fish syndrome. I still havent figured out all the local names, lapu lapu? Just easier to point at the snapper or grouper.

    Anyway, steamed fish with ginger, chinese wine and soy is great and simple to do. Add some good tofu and mushrooms, really soaks up the flavor and bit more filling than plain rice.

  2. The only issue I see in the photos are the cloudy eyes. Fresh fish should have clear eyes, red gills and not smell that fishy. Maybe its the lighting.

    In Manila, the best place for fish is the fish market down by Mall of Asia and to the right along the coast. You know there fresh as they are still swimming in the tanks. You can pick you fish, and then take it over to the restaurant to be cooked however you want it. Not all that cheap though.

    1. We live near General Santos City which proclaims itself to be the tuna capital of the world. You can get tuna belly or tuna cheeks at a good price here. It is really good to grill the tuna on the barbeque like a steak. It almost tastes like steak and is very good partnered with a cold San Mig eating as a group with friends and family in the kubo. These are the times that make life great.

  3. Hi Dave,

    I am actually supposed to be working on our multicab truck right now but since the boss is working in her flowers she has not noticed that I snuck away to the sky kubo to check my emails on my laptop. Part of my daily routine is always checking out your blog. We seem to have the same appreciation for the little things in life. As for fish I will have to let you know that I have a fishpond stocked with maybe two thousand tilapia. The fishpond looks like a small swimming pool with a walkway through the center. I enjoy tending to my chickens and fish every day.Life is what you make it. At this point in mine and Marie’s life we always are expressing our happiness to each other. Marie always shares my first experience of grocery shopping with her friends. They always laugh when I told her that it is hard to shop for meat when there are so many faces looking at you in the display case. They also tease me a little when I run away to another place when one of our animals is slaughtered. I tell them that I dont mind the butchering but I don’t want to see the killing. Marie always thought that I don’t like fish. After five years of marriage we were in the fish market and I pointed to a fish with white meat and said I would like to eat that. She sliced it up and fried it for me. It was great. I explained that I only like fish that does not have a strong fish taste. So now she is happy that her hsuband can eat fish. She told me that the fish that I like is considered to be class A fish. I guess I still have a little spoiled American in me.

    1. We are really excited at the prospect of you and the reknowned Sainted Patient Wife coming to visit us. We hope that you will consider spending a few days with us. In my mind I have a plan for us to take you guys around to see the things that make our place special. We have a great life here and sharing it with friends would make it even better. To make my offer even more enticing I will again state that all you have to do is find a cheap promo flight on Cebu Pacific and then everything else is on us. I have had friends visit before and for some reason it feels like I am on vacation when they are here.

  4. I miss the different types of fish and seafood there. Always so much fresher than anything here in Ontario. Also liked the varieties of mussel and oysters that were available there. One of my favourite fish was Tangigue (Mackerel) and a fish salad made with it.

  5. Just throwing in my two cents worth: I like the Century canned tuna. Brought back several cans when we returned to the States: regular flake tuna, spicy tuna, and corned tuna. They all make a great tuna salad sandwich, one of my favorites.

    Hmmm……wet fish markets + my crystal clear ice……a new marketing idea when I get back there!

    1. Unfortunately John, no, they haven’t figured out what to do with the ice yet. And I’m not there to help them figure it out! Since my brother-in-law is of the same mindset as the locals, he has been no help at all. Offering him suggestions versus actually showing him how to market the product has been futile. I’m seriously looking forward to my return to the Phils. in March so that I can get things going. Angelo is a good man and he’s honest, but all he knows how to do is mind the store. Sales leveled off after I left earlier this year and have remained flat. I would love to have you be an “authorized” Ice Station at your place. We’ll have to figure out how to do that!

    1. Gaisano Mall of Tagum. We now have 4 Gaisano malls. Plus an NCCC mall. The new 168 mall and SM is buying land to build a new mall here. 😀

  6. Dave,

    I like to eat tilapia, flounder and canned salmon. I fry tilapia and in olive oil or canola oil, but not deep fry it. Just put enough to cover bottom of fry pan. I use cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper to coat the fish. Cooks fast and put it on bread with hot sauce on it. I like making salmon burgers. I use bread crumbs, lemon pepper, onions and an egg and mix it with the salmon and make out of it. Cook in in olive/canola oil until brown, put on bread with hot sauce on it. Very good and healthy for you. Just a few more ideas for you to cook fish. Thanks so much for the photos of the fish. Always looking forward to reading about your daily life. Take care and be safe.

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