Food from The Philippines: Loro Fish (Parrot Fish)

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ December 2nd, 2010. Updated on July 14th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Filipino food.
A parrot fish from The Philippines

Getting ready to eat a parrot fish (click to enlarge)

Eating Parrot or Loro Fish from The Philippines

Loro means Parrot in Tagalog (the northern language of The Philippines). To many people outside of Asia, or the Caribbean, the Parrot fish is that brightly colored beautiful fish you see in underwater photographs or videos. Dare I mention, Nemo here!

In Polynesia Parrot fish is considered “royal food” and eaten raw by only the King!

What is a Parrot fish?

It’s actually an incredible fish. It get’s the name “parrot” not from its bright bird like coloring. But rather from its mouth. Which has strong teeth that are formed in bone that are similar to a parrot’s beak. Click the photo above to see the beak-like mouth.

Parrot fish on a barbecue

Cooking Parrot fish on a local  barbecue (click to enlarge)

Parrot fish are also notoriously difficult to classify. They change color throughout their life cycle. And, are hermaphroditic. Many are born female, and slowly change into males!

They live and eat around coral which gives them a very hard fish scale for protection against sharp edges.

Another interesting fact is that at night, the parrot fish releases a slimy mucus from its mouth to envelope its body. It does this to hide its scent from predators.

How much does a parrot fish cost?

Here, in The Philippines eating Parrot fish is no big deal. It’s readily available in most wet markets, and supermarkets.

A cooked parrot fish

A cooked parrot fish (click to enlarge)

There are also tourist restaurants that serve it too, some at a high cost. To give you an idea of  how much Parrot fish really costs, I paid 40 pesos (USD$0.90) for the one photographed above. The fish weighed about 400 grams.

Parrot fish are also found in tropical pet shops.

How do they cook Parrot fish in The Philippines

There are many ways. But, the most common is in a simple onion like stew. Fried and served with salad and vinegar. Or, in this case grilled over a charcoal barbecue after being stuffed with onion, bell pepper, and garnished with salt and pepper.

What does parrot fish taste like?

Scaling a parrot fish is quite difficult due to the hard scales. Which I think is why it’s not so popular a fish for eating compared to other varieties found in The Philippines. But, scaling is important otherwise it’s like cutting through armor!

I was really expecting something quite different from a brilliant bright blue fish like this. What I got was a tasty light flaky fish, with not too many bones. I wouldn’t say it was any different from any other white fish out there. A mild fish taste, but nothing out of the ordinary.

It seems the parrot fish is a lot better looking than tasting!

This is an additional article featuring Filipino food

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16 Great responses to Food from The Philippines: Loro Fish (Parrot Fish)

  1. LeslieTravel says:

    As a vegetarian, I feel bad for the fish! It’s so beautiful. Glad to know it looks better than it tastes– maybe fewer people will try it ;)

    • It’s a beautiful and fascinating fish alright Leslie. A fact of life here is that it’s food, it’s plentiful, and people can afford it. That said, to but your mind at rest, it’s not that popular due to the work being needed to prepare it :)

  2. Marnie Alvez says:

    I’ve admired this beautiful fish whenever I snorkel or dive but it wasn’t until last weekend that I have tried how good it tastes =) Sorry we Asians eat all creatures big and small in water, land and air haha. The fish was filleted and cut into small squares.. added some vinegar, fresh chili and fresh onions. The best kinilaw or ceviche I’ve tasted in a long time! =)

    Like most markets here in the Philippines, you can ask the vendor to scale the fish for you, fillet or cut it to your preferred way, usually with no extra cost. I love fish! There are so many ways of preparing it aside from the boring fried way =) You should try it!

    • You are right, in Asia nearly everything, or should that be everything is considered food. Except for Geckos? Maybe!

      The fish people offered to scale if for me, but I wanted to take a photograph too. Its only then I discovered the tough scales. And you are right, there are more ways to eat a fish than just grill!

  3. Laura says:

    Another fascinating insight into unusual foods – brilliant! It looks beautiful and I can’t imagine eating it.

  4. Renny says:

    Wow. I always thought it was something under the water that made them so colorful. I don’t think western eyes could eat this. Almost like eating Bambi!

  5. the fish looks delicious, its a pity its not as sweet as it looks and it is hard

  6. Kristina says:

    It certainly looks beautiful! It’s quite big and am surprised to know there isn’t much bones in its body. Adding more spices might make it tastier.

  7. Claire says:

    I didn’t know any of the things in this post, and I LIVE in the Philippines! The fish looks so unique and colorful that I felt sad when I saw it on the grill. :( Seems a shame to eat something so pretty if it doesn’t taste out-of-the-ordinary, though. Thanks so much for the post, I enjoyed reading! :)

  8. bill says:

    i spearfish in ecuador and there are lots of parrot fish. i dont think its any better looking then any other fish. i rate fish by how good they taste. parrot fish are easy to shot. it is what i shot if i cant find somrthing better and want to eat dinner. when fileted and cooked in pineapple juice it tastes like lobster. it also makes great ceviche due to its firm texture. coked over open flame the scales burn off. when it is fileted cutting the meat and skin off together and then remove the skin. the head and bones also make great soup. when i shot a parrot i dont tell my friends. its to easy to shot to be proud of kind of like trigger fish which also taste great, i ate one of those tonight

  9. Peter says:

    Here in Hawaii it’s on the delicacy.. It cost about $12-15 per pound. Best way is stuff it with mayonnaise onions lup Chung/Chinese sausage bacon bites. Wrap it with foil then grill. Don’t forget to salt n pepper fish also…

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