ipon, fish fries/silver fish

Ipon? Ipon what? You mean hipon? Or iPhone? Yes, the tiny fish, ipon, which is a prized fish in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions, is often mispronounced, misunderstood, mistaken. Some non-Ilokano folks mistake it as hipon or small shrimps (aramang, alamang in Tagalog), due to mispronunciation or the way it sounded to them. And do you know that when you google image "ipon" much of the search results point to that pesky iPhone (Apple) luxury phone?

Fresh ipon from Santa, Ilocos Sur.

Ipon for sale in Dugo, Camalaniugan, Cagayan.

Another ipon (larger fries) for sale in Dugo, Camalaniugan, Cagayan.

This is ipon, a "tiny fish," but this is actually the fries of the goby fish, or in some instance, that of the anchovy fish. It's also called silver fish. And it's also called dulong in some Ilocos areas (not the big and rare, and as a result expensive, ludong). Ipon for some is considered an Ilokano exotic food or delicacy because of its mystery, rarity, high price, and of course of its distinct flavor favored by Ilokanos.

Ipon can be prepared and cooked in a variety of ways, kilawen (raw, with sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, diced ginger, salt), as a soup (boiled with lots of tomatoes, onions and ginger), as a tamales wrapped in banana leaf and steamed or grilled, or simply steamed or boiled dry, and many others.

Kilawen nga ipon.

Ipon in a savory soup with tomatoes, ginger, and onions.

Ipon soup.

Ipon soup (detail).

This is a real kicker! Boiled ipon with gamet (dried seaweed, nori).

Ipon with gamet (detail).

Steamed ipon with ginger and onions.

Kilawen nga ipon.

Ipon to be mixed as a kilawen.

Kilawen nga ipon and kilawen a kalding as pulotan.

Ipon is  also good with dinengdeng or the ubiquitous Ilokano medley of veggies and leafy greens in soup with the essential bugguong.

Dinengdeng nga ipon with bulong ti paria.

Ipon is also best as dried or daing to be fried or as a sagpaw, again, in a dinengdeng.

Ipon being prepared to be sundried, on a leaf and atop a galvanized iron roof.

Beautiful sun-dried ipon.



  1. It's also 'dulong' in southern tagalog region. In Batangas we usually cook it as omelet, sometimes as kilawin, haven't seen/tasted 'dulong' soup yet. :)

  2. That super white ipon is very scary, because from afar it looks like maggot (no offense). But the pink (fresh), yellow, or black ipon looks palatable.

  3. A specialty in Ilocos region - "buggoong ipon" is a condiment like "buggong munamon", both processed using salt.