BONG-oos, not BAN-goos. More bong, than ban... It sounds foreign, probably because it is. And I'll point out, it's a food reference and not a drug one.

As part of my project for the Lenten season, I want to share with you a fish dish that my Dad would cook on days when the weather was nice. Granted, the weather in New Mexico, much like the weather in Texas, is usually nice, but he chose nicer days for this meal because it was something he would cook outside. It can be a grilled or fried dish, so I will leave it to the cook to decide which method works best for them.

Bangus, which is the Filipino name for a milkfish, is a fish commonly found in the Pacific and Indian oceans. This is a very simple recipe that we usually eat with plain white rice and that's it. You can broil some broccoli florets, or some chopped up Swiss chard and kale, with a little bit of minced garlic and oil to serve on the side and that would be great, too. It's a bony, white fish, so a good substitution fish could include halibut, cod or red snapper. Ask the fish monger behind the counter and they can usually recommend something.

White fish with onions, garlic and tomatoes

1 whole white fish, cleaned but with the head and fins still intacted

1/2 cup of yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup tomatoes, diced

4 or 5 cloves of garlic, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Butchers twine

You may have to add or take away from the amount of vegetables, as the size of your fish will vary

In a bowl, take your trinity of vegetables (it's a very common mix of ingredients in Filipino eats) and add salt and pepper to it. Mix it well so that its all combined. Take all the veggies and stuff it into the empty cavity of the fish. Take some butcher's twine, soaked in water to avoid catching fire on the grill, and needle and stitch the belly of the fish shut.

The season the fish with salt and pepper and score each side of the fish two or three times and cook on the grill or in a pan and fry in oil. Don't deep fry the fish, but use enough oil to cook it well on both sides, about 1/2 an inch of oil will work. Grill or fry until the fish is cooked thoroughly, or firm to the touch.

Once the fish is done, let it cool and remove the butcher's twine. Be careful not to break the bones when serving and be weary of the smaller bones when eating. If you go along the top of the fish and use a fork, you can usually pull of the fillets in big pieces.

Also, here's a quick dipping sauce to serve along with the fish. Take some a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a little bit of diced onions and a pinch of red chile flakes and mix them together in a small bowl. Take the whole pieces of fish and dip it into the sauce or spoon the sauce over the fish.

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think, email me at jrodrigo@vicad.com.