Adobong Hito

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!

Table Of Contents

  • Ingredient notes
  • How to prepare hito
  • Quick tips
  • How to serve and store
  • More Filipino fish recipes
  • Adobong Hito

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!

Ingredient notes

  • 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

Slimy Skin

  • Catfish have a 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.

Muddy Taste

  • 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.

Quick Tips

  • 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.

This is a simple recipe of adobong hito. Unlike other adobo dishes, this fish adobo does not have soy sauce. The combination of vinegar, ginger juice, garlic, salt and pepper is what makes this fish adobo differ from the usual fish adobo. And you will also notice in the procedure the proper way of preparing the catfish prior to cooking. Soaking the fish in vinegar for half an hour and rubbing it with sea salt will remove the strong fishy and muddy flavor of the catfish which is common to fresh water fishes.

To cook adobong hito; In the market, have the head and gills of the fish removed. Also remove the internal organs of the fish and wash it well. Let stand in vinegar for 30 minutes, drain and rub with coarse salt till slimy coating is removed. Rinse in vinegar again then wash fish in water. In a bowl marinate the fish in garlic, ginger juice and enough vinegar to cover. Let stand for an hour. Drain and reserve marinade. Heat pork lard and fry fish until crisp. Remove fish from pan and put out excess lard. Pour in the marinade and bring to a boil, simmer uncovered till the vinegar evaporates. Add hito and continue cooking till oil is clear.

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