If you have spare time for a market adventure in Cebu City, head off to the Taboan Dried Fish Market for good bargains of dried danggit (rabbitfish). The price per kilo ranges from Php400-Php600 which is significantly lower than the Php80-Php100 100g packs sold at the department stores or at the airport terminal kiosks. The variation could be attributed to the abundance of the fishermen’s catch (scarcer during full moon) and the time of the year (more expensive during the Sinulog festivities).
Now there are many dried fish stalls at Taboan. Both sides of the street are lined up with stores that sell danggit and other dried fish that look, taste and cost the same. So I decided one day last January to look for a trustworthy suki for my dried fish fix. I avoided the more established stalls along the street because it may be difficult to reasonably haggle with them considering that the owners have to pay higher rent for the premium location. They also have to hire a host of workers to look after their spacious stores.
I then found Nang Aying’s Dried Fish which is located right inside the Taboan market. If you pass by the Taboan Dried Fish signage, Aying’s is the second stall to your right. They do not have any visible signboard by the way so you might want to ask around if the directions I provided would not suffice. And no, I do not get anything from them in return for mentioning them in this entry. They do not know about the existence of this blog in the first place. This is just my way of thanking their crew for the great service that I get from them every time.
I would usually buy a few kilos of the small/medium-sized (or bite-size proportions) unsalteddanggit which is a few pesos expensive compared to the salted ones. You may wonder what is the difference between the two since both must have been dashed with salt to prevent the fish from spoiling. The unsalted versions, I learned, are washed with tubig tab-ang or fresh water while the other one is washed right at sea. The ‘unsalted’ fish would just have the right amount of saltiness as result.
The dried fish are then packed in 100 grams for distribution to my aunts or relatives or friends. Each pack is also thermally sealed so as to minimize the pungent aroma from getting out. For a minimal fee, they could also pack the dried goods in a small box especially for those who would be bringing the danggit on their flight out of Cebu. These may be secretly stowed in your hand carry bags for those who are travelling on promo tickets. Just make sure that each pack is wrapped with layers of newspaper so that it would not be an inconvenience for every one else on that flight. But I’ve also heard of accounts where these were not allowed for hand carry so it would be better to squeeze everything in a box just to be sure.
Finally, wear everyday outfit in going to Taboan. The smell of the dried fish stinks and it will stick to your clothes, to your bags and to yourself even if you just spent a few minutes in the vicinity. The scientific explanation for that still eludes me to this day but perhaps the air at Taboan is congested with this strong odor because of the sheer volume of dried fish in the market.
I would not make a great deal about the scent because it immediately wears off after a quick bath. But do your evening date and every one else for that matter, a favor by washing up and changing your clothes after dried fish shopping at the Taboan Dried Fish Market.