Cook It!: Kinunot, or Demonfish Cooked in Coconut Milk

Monday, May 28, 2012 Jonette 2 Comments

Why yes, you read the title right.

About a year and a few weeks ago, Mik and I found ourselves stranded in a whale shark-watching resort in Donsol, no thanks to man-high floods on the main road and terrible weather. The resort staff and tour team kept us mostly-dry and warm, and fed us, educating our palates a bit more.

Everyone, meet dinner.

original picture from superpunch
vintage label from

Well, not really, but you get the idea. 

 The meat texture was rather surprising: yielding, stringy, and tasted interestingly like chicken. The ginger and peppers cooked in the coconut milk helped our appetites along. 

My wet market run last week put me smack dab in front of a stall selling fresh demon fish, or ray meat. The fishmonger running the store was quite kind and patient. He skinned and de-boned a kilo of the stuff for me, and taught me the recipe as he worked with the ropey, dense, piscine muscles. 

(Caveat: There are some regions in the Philippines where fishing for rays is legal, and there are some where it is not. Allow me to point you to a cautionary tale where a few fishermen caught a rare megamouth shark and cooked it in a melange of coconut, peppers, and ginger -- much to the horror of naturalists and conservationists everywhere. It is the very same recipe I will teach you now. Just be careful with your choice of meat, and know where it comes from.)


You Will Need: 

  • 1 kilo of ray meat 
  • 3 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • a handful of ginger
  • half a garlic head
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 2-3 large green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • clean hands
  • a clear conscience 


Let's Get Started! 

  • Peel and crush about two thumbs' worth of ginger. Heat the vinegar and water in a Teflon-lined casserole. (The teflon part is important. You don't want this to turn into a chemistry experiment off the bat, I assure you.) Toss in your peeled-and-crushed ginger thumbs.
  • Take your ray meat, and wash it well. You might encounter a strange ammonia-like smell to it -- don't panic. It's just the way the meat is. 
  • Once the vinegar's begun to steam a bit, put in the ray meat, and let it boil. Make sure all of its parts are boiled properly.  This step is to remove any extreme fishy smell to it.(Note: boiling it for five to ten minutes makes the meat a bit chewy; twenty to forty minutes makes it tender.)

  • When the meat's a nice whitish color, drain it, and set it on a plate to cool. (You will want this to cool because you will be using your fingers on this later.) Throw away your boiled ginger; it has served its purpose. Let it sit for five to seven minutes.
  • By now, your ray meat will have cooled enough. Now take it, preferably with a willing accomplice, and follow the gif below. 

 The end result of your shredding endeavors:
a mountain of meat.
  • Assemble the rest of the cast. 

  • Take out a larger Teflon-lined casserole (or wash the last one you used, if that was your largest one.) Put your coconut milk in it, and set it to simmer. 

  • Add the assembly of garlic, onion, ginger, peppers and peppercorns to it. 
  • Mix well. Let it simmer some more on your lowest heat setting.
  • Add the shredded meat to the spiced coconut milk melange. Mix well, and simmer for a few more minutes. Go and wash your hands, because they now smell of the deep blue, and maybe even a Deep One. 
  • Serve over steaming rice. Best enjoyed with someone adventurous you love.

If I had the chance to do this over, I would maybe toss in a few more sliced green chilies into the mix.

Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoyed this recipe.


  1. I don't know if I'm brave enough to try it, but it does sound promising! ;)

    1. Why, thank you! It certainly is a most unusual dish. :)


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