Char-Grilled “Pampano”



Sunday market at SIDCOR (Eton Centris, EDSA, Quezon City, Philippines)
where I chanced upon mega cute “tiny tomatoes” and Baguio grown “habanero-breed chili peppers”.
The ingredients’ instinct in me literally pushed my pocket to get some
and try at home particularly the claim of vendor that such “habanero”
has higher Scouville Heat Unit (the Capsaicin content which is the measure of chilies’ hotness)
than our local “Labuyo” (bird’s eye chilies)
Had to let my palate lay taste on it…even a bit.
Question is: just that? Won’t allow as is.
Need to have something to go with my trial…
instantly then, our famous prep: “INIHAW” (charcoal grilling).
That’s when “Pampano” (pomfret) became my main character for this issue.
 Prep time:                   30 minutes
Cook time:                    45 mins.
Total time:                     1 hour 10 mins.
Makes/Serves:             2
Cooking medium:       charcoal grille, charcoal, oil brush
Special instruction(s):

1 medium size Pampano, fully cleaned, internals removed, 2 slits on each side.
1 packet “Sinigang Mix” ( Knorr or Maggi tamarind flavored soup mix powder).
30 ml. olive oil
6 cloves crushed-minced garlic
1 small minced onion
12 pcs. tiny tomatoes fully washed to serve as sides.


50 ml. soy sauce
2 pcs. Labuyo sliced thinly
2 pcs. Baguio Habanero Chili Pepper sliced thinly
OPTIONAL calamansi or lemon juice
1.    Fully scatter, by hand, Sinigang Mix unto all sides, slits, inner head and body of Pampano.
Make sure all parts are covered for full flavor penetration. Set aside.
2.    Crank up charcoal the way you fire them up. AVOID UTILIZING gasoline or kerosene
as fumes contaminate flavor and aroma of grilled items.

3.    While awaiting fiery red coals, heat olive oil in pan. Add garlic and onion. Fry to dark brown state.
4.    Using this oil, brush unto all parts of fish and to the wire rack you will use to grill it.
(This system will DEBUNK and PROVE WRONG the Filipino myth that all fish to be grilled MUST have scales
intact-to prevent sticking to the grill rack).

5.    Grill your innovated Pampano to desired doneness which normally will just take 3-5 minutes per side…
brushing extra oil once in a while…and WITNESS how easy it is to turn (SCALED)
fish without sticking to grill medium.

         Oh my GOD. Habanero, though just packing few thousand heat units more than Labuyo (Habanero: 100,000 to
350,000 Scouville Heat Units and Labuyo: 80,000 to 100,000 SHU), it, former, really gives a burning sensation on
tongue and fingers (despite several soap and detergent hand washing). Should you find some, BE EXTRA CAREFUL.
         (more pungent/piquant and expensive)

DISCLAIMER: Above are test kitchen and household-produced dishes. All ingredients utilized are of food grade quality passing international and domestic sanitary standards. While we find the results highly acceptable, no guarantee nor explicit assurance is hereby issued when recipe is performed by readers. For one, although of similar breed, spices, herbs and other ingredients vary from country to country/region to region that possibility of affecting end taste, aroma & bite-feel is great. Further thereto, mentioned sensory evaluation (aroma, taste, mouth-feel) is subjective.

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