King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Hello Everyone! I remember the first time I came across this dish; I was on the phone with my Dad asking him what he would like to eat for the upcoming week before his trip back here to the Philippines. He doesn’t get to eat much home-cooked Filipino food in Indonesia so every time he’s back home, I make sure to include in our weekly menu the things that he wants to eat, even if it is against his diet *facepalm*

One of the dishes he mentioned was Chicken Halang Halang. “What?” I said in confusion as I have never heard of this dish before. The way my dad explained it to me was “it’s like the Visayan version of Chicken Adobo.” But it is actually far from that. This dish more closely represents a cross between Tinolang Manok and Ginataang Manok.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Halang Halang is a Visayan dish where your choice of meat is stewed in a spicy coconut milk sauce. The word halang when directly translated to English, means spicy because of the use of chillies as one of the main ingredients in this dish. So essentially, the dish is called, in English, “Spicy Spicy” *cheeky grin* The coconut milk maintains the creaminess and richness of the dish while it tempers the spiciness of the chillies. It also has a hint of lemongrass, making the dish amazingly aromatic and taste super fresh.

Like most dishes, there are endless possibilities in making Halang Halang. I decided to attempt this dish using fresh King Mackerel steaks that I bought at the markets before we went into Enhanced Community Quarantine. It is definitely an exceptional dish that you can serve at home on a regular basis.

Delicious, no fuss, and easy to make.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk) Ingredients



For the king mackerel steaks

  • 6 large King Mackerel steaks
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder

For the halang halang gravy

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, lightly pounded
  • 2 small red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1 large green chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, julienned
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • Handful of chilli leaves


  1. Combine the seasonings and spices in a small bowl. Generously rub the spices into the fish steaks, making sure to cover all sides. Leave to sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium high. Make sure that the pan is scorching hot, but not smoking, before putting the fish in as this will prevent the steaks from sticking to the pan.
  3. Carefully place the steaks into the pan and fry for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned to seal in all the flavours. Depending on the size of your frying pan, or the size of your steaks, you may need to work in batches. Once done, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium. In the same frying pan, sauté the garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, and chillies until golden and fragrant, about a minute or two.
  5. Slowly pour in half of the coconut milk into the pan and add the lemongrass stalks. Cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Check and stir occasionally to avoid curdles from forming.
  6. Pour the remaining coconut milk into the pan and slowly return the king mackerel steaks to the pan. Cover and bring back up to a rapid simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat off and add the chilli leaves.
  7. Transfer to a serving plate and top with extra slices of red and green chillies for an extra kick of spice. Serve with hot steamed rice and enjoy!

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

This dish is guaranteed to tempt you to increase your rice intake. If you plan to stick with just a cup of rice – or just half like myself – make sure that you condition yourself beforehand because there’s a high chance that you’ll give in to the temptation. I know because I did. Oops.


– Ally xx


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