Takobong is a Philippine regional food from one of the provinces in Mindanao particularly from the Maranaos (literally means “the people of the Lake”). Its main ingredient is grilled tuna coated with spices, slow-cooked over low heat until the liquid disappears, and then oven or sun dried or grill dried.
The secret ingredient to any authentic Maranao dish is the spice called “palapa” (pounded Sakurab + Ginger and Chili). Sakurab is a locally-grown spice similar to spring onion but with a thinner leaf and more distinct unique flavor. If “Sakurab” is not available in your area, you can substitute it with spring onion, albeit not exactly similar in taste but it is the closest spice I could think of.
I learned this recipe from my mother although there might be different versions depending on the locality. Some places may cook it with or without the coconut milk but the process is all the same (grill, cook, dry).
Takobong is very ideal for long travels and camping because it does not spoil quickly due to the cooking procedure it went through. That is the idea for the cooking process. It was meant to make the Takobong last for days or months with proper storing. We usually store our food inside a rattan basket and hang it in the ceilings of the kitchen.
So, let’s start cooking.
- 1 Whole Tuna
- 5-6 Sakurab or Spring Onions (if it’s not available)
- 2 Onions
- Thumb sized Ginger
- 1 Bell Pepper
- 3-4 Chilies
- 2 Tomatoes
- 1 tsp. Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Black Pepper (Whole or Powder)
- 2 tsp. Salt
- 2 cups thick Coconut Milk
- Clean the tuna fish, season with salt, and grill.
- Meanwhile, prepare all the rest of ingredients (except for the coconut milk); slice into small pieces and grind altogether.
- Pour the coconut milk in the mixture and mix well. Set aside.
- When the grilled tuna has cool down, remove the bones and head. Slice the tuna meat into large pieces.
- Coat each piece with the spices mixture, and then arrange the coated tuna in a cooking pot.
- Pour the remaining mixture on top of the tuna.
- Cook over low heat for 30 minutes or until the liquid disappears.
- Let it cool down. Then oven dry or sun dry the tuna or grill it again.