20 Jul2006


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 crab2decided to steam them and let them cool before extracting the crab meat. Alimasag crab meat is “lighter” and less “rich” 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. I’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 housepaint…

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 crab3have 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 couldn’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 didn’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!



  1. Bay_leaf says:

    One of my mom’s specialty, crab meat torta. As a kid i’d help her clean out those things, stuffing some delicious white meat into my mouth when she wasn’t looking…tedious, and time consuming, but the end product was delicious.
    But i still prefer them in their natural state, i mean, steamed, then with rice on the side, and toyo and kalamansi for sawsawan…
    The hubby loves them chili crabs! :)

    but you’re right, MM. Nature just makes the most fascinating designs ever. Love that close up pic.

    Jul 20, 2006 | 4:17 pm


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  3. skymermaid says:

    my lolo’s favorite ulam: stuff a mixture of crab meat, shredded young coconut meat, chopped onions and garlic, salt and pepper into crab shells and steam. i used to think this dish was a total waste of perfectly yummy butung but now your post made me remember my grandfather’s recipe and change my opinion about it.

    Jul 20, 2006 | 4:23 pm

  4. connie says:

    I just like to eat crabs as it is, just have melted butter on the side or a mix of lemon with salt or patis. I never liked stuffed crabs, maybe because of all the “extra stuff” they put in it that you barely taste the crab meat. I’ll wait for your recipe, MM, and see if it is something I’ll like.

    Jul 20, 2006 | 11:42 pm

  5. Choy says:

    i was allergic to crabs and shrimps till i was well into my 20’s. i remember being hospitalized when i was like 6 yrs old, for anaphilactic shock after an aunt gave me a tiny morsel of crab meat, purportedly to help me get rid of my allergy.

    anyhow, i eventually outgrew it, and i love crabs and shrimps with “pinakurat” or simply vinegar with garlic and chillies.

    but because i never had it in my growing up years, i never learned how to pick them off the shell. so my mom had to make “himay” for me. now my wife does it.

    i’m so lucky to have such a great excuse. whattalife!

    Jul 21, 2006 | 7:54 am

  6. maddie says:

    in my “kasag” (alimasag} eating experience, the plain shells are usually female and the spotted ones are male. The female has more crabfat (the orange ones), the males lesser (icky greenish looking but still yummy in taste). usually the males or spotted ones have more meat, sweeter and tastier, too.

    Jul 21, 2006 | 11:08 pm

  7. Ebba Myra says:

    gosh, don’t show crabs to my daughter, and there will be a never ending dinner. My family loves crabs, I mean my whole family, my parents, cousins, sisters, and now my daughters and grandchildren. I cannot find the variety though that my aunt serves to us from Quezon. Locally they called it “kuray” and its kindda hairy and little spotty. My mom cooks it in pure fresh squeezed coconut milk, with an additional fresh grated coconut and ginger and garlic. She lets them boil, then simmer till the sauce gets thick and a little oily. Serve with white rice.. ummm sarap talaga.

    Aug 22, 2007 | 10:38 pm

  8. Tanamay says:

    Ebba Myra,

    “Kuray” comes from Mauban in Quezon and can be caught in the island of Cagbalete. They are seasonal and when in season you can see them in the market in a big can (bakeries use these big lard can). I do not know what they call it in English. They are small, black roundish shell, orange hairy legs. As your described it that’s only way of cooking my Mom does and really delicious.

    -tubong Mauban

    Jul 17, 2008 | 4:28 pm


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