27 July 2007

Batangas' Tawilis


We were done with our annual company sportsfest when some friends decided to drop by Tagaytay to while away the rest of the nice weekend afternoon and have dinner there as well. At the sound of dinner, the others exclaimed, let's have Tawilis!

The Sardinella Tawilis, or simply called Tawilis (a.k.a Tunsoy in Cebu), is one of its kind because:
- it can only be found in the Philippines
- it lives in only one place: the Taal Lake in Batangas
- it's 1 of only 2 freshwater fish in the family Clupeidae (which Herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens also belong to).

Apparently the Taal Lake opened up to the Balayanbay until a violent eruption of the Taal Volcano in the 16th century sealed-off the lake. Eventually the water lost its salt content and the Tawilis evolved with the change, becoming a freshwater fish.

It was my first time to partake of this popular fish. We dropped by the RSM Restaurant in Tagaytay and ordered a fried version, along with Filipino favorites bulalo, sinigang, and some grilled meat and fish.

RSM is a nice restaurant with one side open to the side of the mountain, letting in the fresh, cool night air.

And how did the fish taste like? Hmmmm.... it was like unsalted tuyo... its texture and taste was certainly different from the salted ones. Ok, I'm not at all very good at describing the flavor but that's what it was. Like unsalted tuyo. Intriguingly different. Which reminds me... I have heard it's name in the Baguio public market too. Wow, it's really a popular local fish, isn't it?


Sinigang, bulalo, and grilled meat and fish with Tawilis!

Half-eaten sisig with Tawilis!Fresh coconut juice with Tawilis!


However, due to the uniqueness in habitat, the Tawilis is in danger of extinction, what with the increasing demand for the fish. I wonder if they can regulate its capture?


Addendum July 30:
I have heard before of the Tawilis and that it can be found in Taal Lake, but what I did not know was that it's not found anywhere else in the world! And that there are only two freshwater sardines existing in the world, one of which is the Tawilis. And that this fish is in the endangered list.

I just learned about this fact when I did this post and researched about the Tawilis. And it is indeed an endangered species.

Had I known the state the Tawilis is in, I would have discouraged our eating it.

Reference:
http://www.thenewstoday.info/2005/07/19/iloilonews10.htm

I will be posting in my blog a list of endangered species as part of my advocacy for nature conservation so guests to this blog will be better informed than I had been at that time.
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