Matang Baka

Ark of taste
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Matang Baka

Bigeye Scad (Selar crumenophthalmus), is a saltwater fish usually found in tropical waters known as Mat- an or matang baka. As the name implies, the fish has huge eyes that are covered in a fatty eyelid. Its elongated fusiform body is colored metallic blue green on the top part that fades to silvery-white on the lower part. It also has a narrow yellow stripe that runs horizontally along its body from the top part of the operculum to the base of the caudal fin. Another distinctive feature of the fish is its deeply forked tail that is attached to a rather slim base. It is mostly nocturnal, so it is best to catch them at night.  For some local fisherfolks, the best time to fish for the Bigeye Scad is when it’s a new moon when there are no strong winds either that night or it’s going to mess up your chances of fishing. Others are using electric lamp. They are looking for a spot where the Bigeye Scads are congregating before shining the lamp onto the water. They slowly shrink the light size until the fish being more concentrated in the circle of light near or under the boat so that the bigeye scad will congregate there before throwing a net or fish traps. Usually, it is caught on hooks and lines, with beach seines, trawls, purse seines and traps
The Bigeye Scad is a schooling fish often found in huge numbers along coastal waters. Commercial fishers widely target this fish all around the globe. They are known to be oily but have firm, flesh and is known to be quite tasty.

Like in many other types of Fish, Mat-an can be cooked according to one’s own preferences. It can be grilled, fried, or made into fish soup recipes with mixed of vegetable leaves such as Kamote or Kangkong, Tomato, Ginger, and Onion. Others are adding Iba or batwan (local souring ingredients) in the dish to obtain the source-taste-soup. In one of the communities in Roxas City (Capiz) they dried the surplus catch of Mat-an to preserved and sell it as dried fish. To obtain the dried product is necessary to clean the fish. Then sliced in into half and then soaked in a mixture of salt water and rocksalt overnight. The next day, the marinated fish then layed in the drying mat called Kapil and then sun-dried for about 3-4 hours in the morning and another 3-4 hours in the afternoon depending on the weather.  Dried Mat-an can be a main ingredients into local vegetable mix soup called laswa or in a dish called Ginataan nga Gabi. It can also be grilled or fried and eaten directly when cooked, best paired with fried rice, eggs and coffee during breakfast.

Mat-an is almost available daily in all public markets specially during market days in every City/Municipality. Usually in the remote areas, there is this so called “Potpot”, a habal-habal/motorcycle carrying boxes of fish soaked in crushed ice, roaming around and sell different kind of fish which usually includes Mat-an. Today it is threatened by over fishing and habitat pollution. Conservation measures and management of the fishery are needed to allow the population to recover for future generations.

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Western Visayas (Region VI)

Production area:Province of Capiz