Tabo-an Market, the danggit haven of Cebu!
Danggit is a small thin salted dried fish referred as a poor man's food by most people. It is also known as rabbitfish or spinefoot fish in English.
The dried danggit is one of the most well known pasalubong of Cebu like their famous dried mangoes. It is one of Cebu's delicacies, a favorite treat that can be included during any meal of rich and poor classes alike.
Tabo-an Market has a varied selection of dried seafood delicacy. Aside from danggit, they also have dried shrimp, dried squid, variety of dried fish, dried fish bones, fish tocino and fish tapa.
For the best danggit experience, you should eat it with bare-hands. Using spoon and fork would only make eating danggit difficult. It is best fried into a crisp, dip it in vinegar with chili peppers and match it up with hot garlic or fried rice and freshly sliced tomatoes.
Danggit doesn't spoil easily. You can buy it for Php60 per 1/8 gram, Php280 per half kilo or Php450-Php480 per kilo at Taboan Market. Don't forget that you can always haggle with the vendors for a lower price.
The Tabo-an Market is same as the typical Filipino public fish market setting. The smell of the place is appalling because of the mounds and crates of dried seafood surrounding the place. You may find it stomach-churning if you're not used to the pungent smell. Vendors wrap your danggit in layers of newspapers not like in supermarket that they pack and seal it in plastics.
Expect that you'll smell like fish after your Tabo-an trip so don't go there on the day of your flight to buy some pasalubong if you're not from Cebu. If you're not up to the Tabo-an Market experience but still want to have the flavorful danggit for your breakfast or as pasalubong, it is also available in big supermarkets nationwide but is much expensive.
Did you know that other local names of danggit are samaral, taragbago, kitang, or tabago? It is part of the Siganus family. The scientific name Siganus is the Latin term by which Mediterranean rabbitfishes were known in Ancient Rome. Rabbitfishes grow to about 40 cm (15.7 in) and have small, rabbit-like mouths, large dark eyes, and a shy temperament that gives them their name.
How to Get There:
From Manila, you can fly to Cebu (estimated cost of Php3,000++, round trip, 45 minutes). And from the Cebu Airport, you will need to hire a cab (minimum price of Php400.00, 20-30 minutes) to go to the actual city and to your destination.
Going to Tabo-an Market could be difficult for first time Cebu visitors using the public transportation or if you're not familiar with the jeepney routes. If you opt to ride a jeep make sure that it has a sign "Tabo-an/Carbon Market".
Taboan is just a few minutes ride from Osmeña Circle. If you're new to Cebu and is just within the city, it is best that you hail a cab (around Php150) and ask to be taken to Taboan Market. The place is very popular among Cebuanos so no cab driver can make a mistake of not finding it.
(danggit/ rabbitfish; photo by Dustin Mijares)