Written by Cyd Francis D. Recidoro
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Fishing is the second source of livelihood in the island-province of Marinduque. The town of Balanacan is among the main sources of freshly-caught marine products  such as tulingan, alumahan, and dilis (also known as anchovies)  in the municipality of Mogpog.

As fish are highly perishable foodstuff, and dilis, in particular, are only abundant from the months of July to January, fisherfolk are in need of other preservation or processing methods, aside from the traditional salting and drying, to ensure that they have sufficient supply of marine products to sell all year round.

Seeking to address this need, the Department of Science and Technology  MIMAROPA Region (DOST-MIMAROPA), through the Provincial Science and Technology Center in Marinduque (PSTC-Marinduque), introduced the technology of vacuum frying through a project in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment IV-B (DOLE IV-B) and the Local Government Unit of Mogpog (LGU-Mogpog), with the Balanacan Multi-sectoral Credit Cooperative (BMCC) as project beneficiary.

Vacuum frying, according to the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), is a non-conventional method of deep-fat-frying of food materials. It cooks the food by frying in oil inside a vacuum chamber wherein both the oil temperature and pressure are low that reduces the absorption of fat by as much as 42%. Moisture removal is accomplished at a lower oil temperature and the changes in food during frying are not as harsh compared to that of conventional frying resulting to high-quality fried products When packed in an appropriate package, the product requires no preservatives making it ideal as a health snack.

Training on the operations of the vacuum fryer, with dilis as raw material, was conducted on February 2014 at Marinduque State College (MSC) with technical staff from DOST-ITDI as resource persons. The training was attended by 10 members of BMCC, four (4) faculty, and 10 Food Technology students. The training, consequently, produced three (3) variants of the vacuum-fried dilis: plain, spicy, and barbeque flavors.

Vacuum-fried dilis, considered to be the first of its kind in the country, is exceptionally crunchy and has low fat content compared with when it’s deep-fried. Due to the lower temperatures applied approximately 130C (266F) the formation of suspected carcinogenic compounds is significantly lower than in food cooked in traditional or common frying methods where the approximate temperature reaches 170C (338F). With these attributes, vacuum-fried dilis is positioned to target the market segment consisting of children and health buffs.

The cooperatives production facility, presently housed in the MSC campus in Boac, yields an average of 2,880 packs (at 30 grams per pack) per month.