The Happy Home Cook: Tinapa (Smoked Fish) Spaghetti In White Sauce

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Tinapa Spaghetti in White Suace (Photo by Rene Astudillo)

Tinapa Spaghetti in White Suace (Photo by Rene Astudillo)

Tinapa is the Filipino term that usually refers to fish cooked or preserved through the process of smoking. It is a native delicacy in the Philippines and is often made from blackfin scad (galunggong) or from milkfish, which is locally known as bangus.

I first encountered tinapa spaghetti at a potluck in Manila.  A friend brought tinapa spaghetti.  At first I hesitated to even try it because it was a type of spaghetti I’ve never seen or tried before.

But as soon as I had my first spoonful, I fell in love with it. It is in direct contrast to the popular sweet Filipino spaghetti usually made with ground beef, sausage and tomato sauce.


2 pcs, dried and salted fish (tinapa), deboned and flaked
4 cups, cooked spaghetti pasta
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small onion, minced
1 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup cream
2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps flour

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 tbsps Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped green onions


Prepare the white sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined. Pour in milk and cream, stirring constantly as it thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat Olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until golden brown.  Add onions and cook until tender and fragrant.  Add tinapa and sauté for three minutes. Sprinkle half of the parmesan cheese.

In a mixing bowl, add cooked pasta. Add the tinapa mixture and mix well. Pour in the white sauce and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining cheese and garnish with green onions.

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Rene Astudillo

Rene Astudillo

Rene Astudillo is a writer, book author and blogger and has recently retired from more than two decades of nonprofit community work in the Bay Area. He spends his time between California and the Philippines.

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