Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Postcards | Ifun Fish Cake with Chili Mango Slaw

Friends provide comfort. 

Old friends serve like postcards from home.  And like postcards, they bring forth warmth, joy, laughter and memories. Yes, memories! And at my age I have tons and tons of them. So when I spent the weekend with some of my high school friends, 48 hours was not enough to cover the 20 years of catching up we had to do.  And every minute counts.

"Well aren't we going out?" our host Bonni asked us while we were enjoying our coffee. "There are so many places to see here in Chicago..." he suggested.  But he still hadn't convinced us - we remained skeptics, unwilling to abandon the time-travelling we did through our stories about years past. Instead, we were content to gather around the dining table, filling the room with our boisterous laughter, reliving stories upon stories that transpired a few decades ago.

"If that's the case, I'll cook some Ifun [ee-foon]"  he said again. But this time - he caught our attention.

I don't know what it's called in Tagalog (or even in English) but Ifun, is something we Ibanags eat.  Sold in the local markets in small tubs, the small fish with the big beady eyes reminds me of home.  Bonni insisted it's called Silver Fish, and yet another food blogger Market Manila says it's dulong in tagalog.  I am still not sure of its common name, but what I know is that our hosts Priscilla and Bonni served a delightful brunch and this his how the morning spread was presented:

I was mesmerized... the last time I've seen this dish was more than 20 years ago.  So in my head I was trying to create a new dish, and my friend Melo noticed it immediately.  And in true high school peer pressure fashion, I succumbed to their suggestion that I should go to the kitchen and create something.  My new dish is what I call Ifun Fish Cake with Chili Mango Slaw.

Ifun Fish Cake with Chili Mango Slaw
This recipe comes in two parts.  The first part is Bonni's Ifun and the the second part is my take on the dish.  

2 cups of Ifun (silverfish; dulong, you could also use any other fish flakes)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 thumb size ginger finely chopped
1 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg, slightly beaten


Heat the pan for a minute then add the olive oil. Saute onions, ginger and tomatoes. Add the ifun (or flakes). Keep tossing until the liquid is reduced to almost dry.  Add the slightly beaten egg.  Stir them together and voila... it's ready.

Now for the second part, all you have to do is add one more slightly beaten egg.  Mix together with panko bread crumbs.  Add parsley flakes.  Form a patty and bake the patty for about 10 minutes in 375 degrees oven.

For the mango slaw:  Mix together, sliced mangoes, sliced scallions and sliced tomatoes.(You may also add chopped cilantro)  Set aside.  Mix together 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1/3 cup vinegar, sliced onions, 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger, 1/2 tsp of chili garlic sauce, salt and pepper and sugar  to taste.  Drizzle a little sesame oil.  You may add chopped Thai Bird's Eye Chili. Toss the mango slaw together.  Enjoy!

To Bonni, Priscilla, Ian, AJ and Milena, thank you so much for the warm hospitality.  You guys made us feel so at home, we feel that we have a second home in Chicago!

and thank you Melo for taking the time to be with us... Sa uulitin!


  1. I love ifun. Isn't it called anchovie fry? Dulong taste different from ifun Malou.

    1. If you google it, silverfish comes close. Yes it might not be Dulong but the picture that MM shared in his blog looks exactly the same as IFUN.
      Thanks for dropping by. It's been awhile since I last saw you!

  2. I love your presentation. It makes the humble fish looks gourmet. I like how simple the ingredients are too. Isn't it pandaca pygmea the smallest fish?

    1. Wow it's my first time to hear pandaca pygmea again in such a looooong time. I kow we learned that in Grade school haha.

      Thanks for the kind words. I really hope to meet you someday!

  3. Hi Malou, such a beautiful dish, and lovelz presentation as well! Looks super delicious:) Have a wonderful weekend, my dear friend! xo

    1. Hello Elisabeth! Great seeing you! Thanks for the kind words. You have a wonderful weekend yourself too!
      Take care,

  4. Great looking dish! Sounds awfully tasty. Isn't it so fun to visit with old friends? Thanks for this, and have a terrific weekend.


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