Adobong Hito

Adobong Hito is not only delicious and nutritious, but it’s also easy to make and budget-friendly, too.  The moist and succulent catfish is pan-fried until crisp and simmered in tangy and savory vinegar and soy sauce mixture until flavorful. Best enjoyed with steamed rice!

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Adobong Hito is a variety of Filipino adobo. It uses catfish and the usual adobo ingredients of soy sauce, vinegar, and aromatics, along with ginger to neutralize the fishy smell and tomatoes for an added layer of flavor.

Ingredient notes

  • Hito or catfish is a fresh-water fish with black skin and is very slippery. They are known to have a “beard” or “whiskers.” You can also use kanduli, which is another type of catfish and is silvery gray.
  • Calamansi and salt– removes the slimy gel that coats the catfish. You can also use vinegar in place of the calamansi.
  • Ginger– adds a tangy freshness, light spiciness, and warmth to the dish. It also neutralizes the fishy odor.
  • Vinegar– the acidity or sourness brightens the flavor of food.
  • Soy Sauce– adds umami and depth of flavor to the dish.
  • Roma Tomato– use ripe ones as they are sweeter and juicier
  • Sugar– helps balance the saltiness
  • Star Anise – adds a sweet-licorice-peppery taste
  • Dried bay leaves- adds aroma

How to prepare hito

Slimy Skin

  • Catfish have a mucus-covered skin instead of scales, which they use in cutaneous gas exchange (skin breathing/respiration). To remove the slimy film, rub the fish thoroughly with rock salt and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrape the salt off with a blunt knife. Rinse the fish with vinegar or calamansi juice and rub it again with salt. Lastly, rinse it very well with water.
  • If grilling the catfish, you can also clean the skin with wood ash (abo) if available.

Muddy Taste

  • They’re bottom-feeders and live in muddy, murky waters, and can take on a dirt taste or lasang putik. Buy from a reputable source to ensure the freshest fish.
  • You can choose farm-raised catfish which have a cleaner and milder flavor. If using wild-caught, you can scrub the fish with vinegar or calamansi juice to rid of the muddy taste.

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Quick Tips

  • Although you can cook the catfish straight in the adobo sauce, I recommend pan-frying it first to add crispiness and to keep it from falling apart when simmering in the sauce.
  • Cook off the strong vinegar flavor by allowing it to boil uncovered and without stirring for a few minutes before adding the soy sauce and water.

How to serve and store

  • Adobong hito is best served with steamed rice as the main entrée for lunch or dinner.  It’s also delicious as a pulutan with an ice-cold beer.
  • Store leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in a pan over low heat or in the microwave at 2 to 3-minute intervals until thoroughly heated.

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