Palayok (Clay Pot)

I was very proud of myself for having made Paksiw na Isda for the first time. It’s one of my favorites amongst the various fish entrees commonly cooked in a Filipino household. To be able to cook it using my mom’s treasured clay pot from many moons ago was an honor in itself, and even more so when she asked for seconds…

‘Paksiw’, one of the many common everyday dishes for Filipino families refers to entrées cooked in vinegar and garlic. Sometimes pertaining to meats like pork and seafood.

Paksiw na Isda is ‘Fish Cooked in Vinegar’. Usually made with ‘bangus’ (milk fish), I decided on experimenting with sea bass, and it was delicious! Wrapped in banana leaves and cooked slowly in ‘palayok’ (clay pot) made for a deliciously rustic and comforting meal.


  • 1 large or 2 medium pieces fish about half a pound each, cleaned and scales removed; then cut into 4 parts (head, middle sections, and tail)
  • 1 small ginger, sliced and pounded
  • 6 cloves garlic with skin, crushed
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 small bitter gourd, chopped (optional)
  • 1 medium-sized Chinese eggplant, 1-inch slices (optional)
  • 1 large Serrano chili pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoon salt (or fish sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
  • 2 large banana leaves, washed, separated and split into 4 pieces, plus extra (optional)
  • Cooking strings (optional)

Recipe Preparation:

  1. Layer a pan or palayok with a large banana leaf.
  2. As an option, wrap individual pieces of fish with banana leaves garnished in garlic, ginger, and lemon slices. Tie with cooking strings, otherwise, skip to step 3.
  3. Arrange the fish in the pan (or in the palayok) along with the ginger, garlic, onion, bitter gourd, eggplants and Serrano chili. Season with salt, whole peppercorns. Additionally, you can also season with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Cover and simmer in medium heat for about 15 minutes. Then simmer for another 15 minutes in low heat.
  5. Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving plate (or serve it directly in the palayok).

Serve hot with steamed rice. Enjoy!