A trip to the beach and a trip to the nearby market is always like a shot of pure energyâ€¦ like plugging in a cell phone that is â€œlow battâ€. Despite the market being a small town affair, and grungier than most in Manila, I find that the choices are often purer in the sense that there isnâ€™t a whole lot of â€œimportedâ€ fruits and vegetables (whether from Baguio, Mindanao or China)â€¦so things more naturally go together. And the natural colors of the produce, when photographed outdoors, beat any still life I can put together in the cityâ€¦ Take this â€œcenterpieceâ€ of sitaw (yard long beans), kalabasa (squash), onions, ginger, siling mahaba (mild chilies) and squash blossomsâ€¦isnâ€™t it just stunning? I used it as a centerpiece for lunch, but it would all eventually be cooked for dinner that eveningâ€¦
We had some last minute guests joining us at the beach on Saturday so I was hoping that there would be a lot of stuff at the market so I could pull off a good dinner of mostly locally sourced dishes. Luckily, a nearby fishpond/crabpond decided to harvest their alimango (crabs) that day and they simply flooded the local market. I had never seen so many crabs before and the prices dropped to just PHP230 a kilo, simply unheard of in this town. I purchased nearly 8 kilos worth and one of the crabs weighed in at about 1.5 kilos by itself! These were destined for the house specialtyâ€¦Chili Crabs a la Marketman!
Along with the crabs, I got a kilo of the most amazing prawns, the meat of several coconuts to make fresh coconut milk, and the vegetables described above. With all of this I planned to make a revved up version of â€œsitaw at kalabasaâ€ (squash and yard long beans in coconut milk) by adding prawns, chilies and squash blossomsâ€¦ So for about 12 people for dinner the menu was set : 7 kilos of chili crabs, a huge platter of veggies and prawns in coconut milk, and 1.5 kilos of barbecued pork liempo. Yum. Photos of the food coming up in the next few posts!