Tilapia grows fast. For this reason it is, like milkfish, catfish and mudfish, being raised in great volume in fishponds throughout the country. The fish is seldom processed or canned, dried, frozen or fermented. It usually transported by middlemen to markets and sold live immediately after catch. Tin tubs (banyera) or styrofoam boxes filled with water at 20% of their capacity are used for transport. The containers are covered with polyethylene nets or wood slats to prevent the fish from escaping. Tilapia marketed in this way usually stays alive from 4 to 6 hours.
For long travel, tilapia is iced in containers in amounts equal to the volume of the fish. Depending on the length of travel, re-icing may be required. Iced tilapia will remai in good condition for as long as 10 days. Some fish dealers say that under ideal conditions of catching and handling, good quality iced tilapia can remain in acceptable condition for 3 weeks.
When your tilapia harvest is large and the fish commands a cheap price, there are a number of processing methods for business.
Not too long ago, The MAF’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and NSTA’s National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) conducted tilapia processing experiments. The joint project yielded 3 advanced processing methods for the following products: 1) canned tilapia (sardine style and escabeche style), and fish tapa. Procedure for each product follow:
Tilapia Sardine Style
- Select fresh tilapia and clean them by removing the scales, heads, fins, tails and viscera.
- Cut the fish cross-sectionally into the size that would fit the size of the cans you are going to use. Soak in brine solution (95% water and 5% salt) for 30 minutes and drain.
- Pack tilapia in tin cans and exhaust for 30 minutes to remove air, thus, creating a partial vacuum.
- Drain off water extracted from the fish and add the following ingredients for every can of tilapia:
- 1 tbsp hot oil
- 2 tbsp hot tomato sauce
- 1-2 pcs of siling labuyo (hot pepper)
- Seal the can immediately in a can sealer and process under pressure at 15 lb for 45 minutes.
- Cool the cans under running water. Dry the cans, label and store properly. (Bottles with sealable caps maybe used instead of tin cans for containers.)
For more information, contact:
TRC at TLRC Building
#103 J. Abad Santos cor. Lopez Jaena Sts.,
Little Baguio, San Juan, Metro Manila
Tel: (02) 727-6205