Sometimes, the most stunning natural colors and patterns are seen in food. A few days ago I had our cook purchase some alimasag or blue shelled crabs at the Seaside Market with the intention of making some rellenong alimasag (stuffed crabs). Once the crabs arrived at home, we decided to steam them and let them cool before extracting the crab meat. Alimasag crab meat is â€œlighterâ€ and less â€œrichâ€ when compared to alimango (mud crabs) but it works well in several dishes. Their shells turn a spectacular orange and oddly, some crabs have more distinct and stunning patterns than others. In fact, some crab shells are almost monochromatic and boring. Iâ€™m not sure why there is a difference, whether it is driven by gender, maturity, life cycle, etc. but once the main shells were separated from the legs and cleaned out and placed on plate, they were an impressive sight. “Crab Shell Orange” should be a patented color for housepaintâ€¦
The huge dish of steamed alimasag seemed worthy of a photo as well. With a little bowl of vinegar or lemon and salt and a pile of steamed rice, it would have made a terrific meal. But we decided to push through with the original plan for rellenong alimasag instead. Once the 16 or so crabs were picked clean, the pile of crab shells was impressive. I couldnâ€™t let the shells go to waste so I picked through them (removing entrails, and other undesirables) and put them in a pot to simmer gently with some water to extract the essence of crab. Add some celery, onions, carrots and herbs and simmer some more until you have this heady crab stock that is the perfect basis for a totally decadent crab bisque. I didnâ€™t have any crab meat left for the bisque so I froze the stock and plan to make the crab bisque in the days ahead. Next up, rellenong alimasag a la Marketman!