How to Cook The Best Pinais na Dilis (Anchovies) Filipino Recipe

Our beloved country, the Philippines, is a nation surrounded by waters. And with that comes a wide variety of aquatic life where most of our countrymen get their food and livelihood source. And since we are a tropical country, our landscape is dotted by tropical trees like the banana. 

These elements, combined with the spirit of ingenuity and creativity, comes the creation of our featured recipes for this article. It is a simple yet unique dish that will tease not just your curiosity but also your palates as well. 

I guess it would be a pain if we prolong the introduction about this timeless Filipino classic dish. Let’s go ahead and share what you need to know on how to cook the best Pinais na Dilis. 

What is Best Pinais na Dilis

(Photo Credits To: Ang Sarap Recipes)

Dilis (Dulong) or anchovies are small varieties of fish that are often found in brackish waters. They are commonly used as ingredients for condiments and also dried and sold for consumption. In contrast, pinais is the general term for any food wrapped in leaves that are steamed or boiled. 

By the looks of it, one can even be mistakenly referred to this dish as tamales. However, the taste is different because our recipes, like most traditional Filipino cuisine, rely on vinegar in cooking. This is to extend the shelf life of foods, and the fermentation of vinegar adds that distinct flavor that most of us are used to. 

Ways to Cook Anchovies in Banana Leaves 

There are a few ways to cook this dish that you can experiment on. So to give you an idea, we listed some of them here. 

Steamed Dilis in Banana Leaf Recipes

Banana trees grow abundantly in our country. Given the type of soil and climate that we have, it is no surprise that they naturally dot our landscape. And our ancestors have been utilizing the leaves for many purposes, specifically in cooking. 

In this method, the Dulong are seasoned with salt, pepper, vinegar, and ginger, and then they are wrapped tightly in banana leaves. Then they are steamed until the banana leaves are wilted. 

Roasted Dulong in Banana Leaves Recipes

Another method that uses banana leaves is by roasting them over hot coals. Banana leaves are known to resist high temperatures because of the amount of water that they can hold and retain in their fibers. This makes them useful for cooking. 

So the process is the same, the seasoned Dulong is then wrapped in banana leaves and then roasted over charcoal. This method adds a smoky flavor to the dish, making them taste even better. 

Other Delicious Variants

(Photo Credits To: Panlasang Pinoy)

And because of the many islands and regions that we have, many variants have also been created for our menu. And here are some of them. 

Pinais na Dilis Okoy

Okoy or fritters are deep-fried recipes that commonly use vegetables as its main ingredient. But this dish can also be made into okoy, which ups the ante for our menu. 

After steaming the dish, flour and eggs are added onto the mixture. The purpose is to bind the ingredients together; they are then deep-fried until golden brown, then served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, chilies, and chopped onions. 

Pinais na Dilis Batangas

This variant of our menu hails from the province of Batangas. And what makes it different is the use of tamarind in stewing the dish instead of vinegar. This substitution gives the dish a tangy and zesty hint.

The process is the same in the recipes, and the only difference is the use of tamarind fruit in place of the vinegar. The Dulong is seasoned, and the tamarind is included in the wrap. The dish is then steamed or stewed until cooked.

Pinais na Dilis Spicy

This variant has an added kick to it because of the addition of chilies. The most common variant of chilies used for stews and steamed recipes are finger chilies; however, you can also use red chili variants if you want more heat. 

The process is the same as the original dish; the chilies’ addition is different. Include the chopped chilies in the anchovy mixture, then wrap them in banana leaves and steam. 

Dulong in Banana Leaves Paksiw

Paksiw, or cooking in vinegar, is a classic cooking method usually done with fish. The technique is somewhat simple and can be done quickly: however, if you desire authenticity, you can use a clay pot if you have one in your kitchen.

Line up your cooking pan with the banana leaves. And aromatics like onions, ginger, and pepper, then add vinegar and water. Then put the Dulong on top and simmer until they change color. 


The humble Dulong star for this dish, is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which is beneficial for heart health. Talk about small but excellent. 


Dilemmas when cooking are unavoidable, so we have listed some troubleshooting steps you can apply when cooking this food. 

  • If the dish is lackluster in flavor, add a tablespoon of fish sauce to the mixture. 
  • Use the midrib of the banana leaves to tie around the wrapper if they loosen up while cooking. 


This food may look simple and easy. However, it takes practice and patience to cook them perfectly. To guide you on that journey, we made sure to give you tips in achieving that goal. 

  • When choosing which Dulong to use, always look at the eyes; they are supposed to be bright and white. 
  • Use younger banana leaves for the wrap. Mature leaves are more brittle and have the tendency to be ruptured when cooking. 

Best Served With 

We also noted some recipes perfect with our featured recipes, which will help you appreciate it even better. 

This is a classic pair, especially for folks who grew up in coastal areas. The natural sweetness of the shrimps goes well with the acidity of the Dulong. 

The slightly bitter yet meaty flavor of this vegetable dish is a fitting complement for our dish’s salty and sour taste. 

The rich and savory taste of this organ meat is somehow similar yet contrasting to our menu’s texture and taste, giving your palate a complex delight. 


Traditional recipes like our menu will always remain relevant recipes in our cuisine. That is why we are confident that with all the information we have shared with you, you will recreate this authentic Filipino classic in your kitchen. 

So until next time, happy cooking!

For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!

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Best Pinais Na Dilis Recipe

A popular dish in the Philippines during holy week, where anchovies fish is wrapped in banana leaf and cooked in vinegar.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Pinais na Dilis
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 31 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 184kcal
Cost $5-20


  • 1 lb Anchovies
  • 5 pcs Banana Leaf
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper crushed
  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1/2 cup Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Water


  • Wash the anchovies.
  • Season with salt, black pepper and ginger. Mix well.
  • Get a pan. Wrap anchovies in banana leaf and divide the mixture into 4.
  • When all mixtures are wrapped already, add vinegar and water into the pan. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Open and add cooking oil.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!


Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1866mg | Potassium: 434mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 57IU | Calcium: 167mg | Iron: 4mg
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