In my first ?pangat? recipe, where I used pampano and trevally, I mentioned that among the best fish to cook ?pangat? or ?pinangat? is ponyfish locally called ?karalla? here in Sri Lanka and ?sapsap? in the Philippines. Ponyfishes which are also known as slipmouths or slimys are small, deep-bodied, laterally compressed fishes with a bland silvery colouration.
They belong to the family of fishes called ?Leiognathidae? in the order ?Perciformes?, meaning perch-like. They inhabit marine and brackish waters in the Indian Ocean and West Pacific. They are distinguished by highly extensible mouths, slimy bodies with small scales and the presence of a mechanism for locking the spines in the dorsal and anal fins.
They also possess a luminous organ in the throat which glow or projects light through the animal's underside due to the presence of luminescent bacteria cultured within an organ surrounding the esophagus.
The variety called Common Ponyfish is my personal favorite and a usual find in the seaside market. This type occurs in the Indo-West Pacific in estuarine and coastal waters. It also exists in the muddy river mouths and sometimes ascends into freshwaters. It is silvery with a brown saddle on the caudal peduncle.
It has faint bars on the back and sometimes a dark blotch on the forehead. The anal fin is yellowish. Like all other species, it can protrude its mouth into a downward pointing tube. You can find the photo of the fish by continuously scrolling down below.
To cook this ?pangat? variation, we need the following ingredients: 3 medium plum tomatoes, cut-up, 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped, 2 pcs green chillies, seeded and julienned, 3 tbsp calamondin/calamansi or lemon juice, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp ground pepper.
In a mixing bowl, mash the tomatoes and onion until they are almost mushy and fully blended together. Add in salt and ground pepper and continue mashing to a pulp. Finally, add the calamondin or lemon juice and about ¼ cup of water. Stir to blend and then set aside.