While we sat leisurely under a thatched roof gazebo in the Clarin Ancestral Home, I noticed that the lawn was “pockmarked” with substantial holes surrounded by dirt around the edges. It was almost as if someone was digging down looking for buried treasure. Duhh, turns out it was a type of native mud crab(s) digging OUT of their underground abodes to seek food and sunshine up above! How odd is that? I have NEVER come across these types of crab before. The house was built over sandy soil, some 50-100 meters perhaps from the sea shore. And there was a major two lane road between the property and the sea… so these critters were tunneling quite a bit of distance to get here from the sea! The staff at the cafe said there just tons and tons of these crabs and they actually caught them to eat!
They showed us a large ceramic pot in the yard, which housed their current catch, OMG, there must have been a dozen large “kagang” or crabs, mean looking things with reddish brown claws. They were very much alive but a bit ticked to be imprisoned in this pot. At least they had some grass clippings and a plate of grated coconut to keep them amused.
Apparently, locals like to cook them in a stew of coconut milk and heavy with shredded coconut meat. They all readily admitted these weren’t as succulent or populat as the more well-known alimango and alimasag, but I guess you have to try them to really experience and taste the difference. I was a bit concerned that they were thriving in mud and soil and thought they might taste of soil, but I quickly realized alimango in ponds or mangroves were probably doing something very similar…
We were shown the clever bamboo traps “pasgang” that were set out at night to catch the critters. Some bait is put in the bamboo cylinder, the crab enters and its movement within triggers the “gate” to snap closed. The ultimate environmentally friendly crabtrap. Cool.
We left with one unsettling thought in my mind… imagine heading out to your backyard at night to smoke a cigarette or chat with friends and suddenly the lawn starts crawling to the soundtrack of the movie “Jaws”??? These kagang could easily bite off your little toes. Ughhh. :)