07 Feb2012

Sand, sea and seafood. It rarely gets better than that. Some sun would have been nice, but that’s okay, you can’t always have all the ducks lined up. :) Last Saturday was hot and sunny and on very short notice, we decided to rent a banca and do some island hopping the following day, Sunday. We called Islands Banca but all their boats were booked, so we arranged for another large banca through friends of friends. The guest list of Zubuchon managers, supervisors and their spouses or families quickly swelled to 25. We ordered a small lechon, lots of puso (rice in coconut leaves) and folks were given tasks to purchase some shrimp and fish to bring on ice, to be grilled at our destination, Pandanon island, roughly an hour away, roughly midway between the provinces of Cebu and Bohol. Nothing fancy, but abundant food and drink.

The day started out a bit grey and overcast, but it looked like it was going to clear up… so off to the islands we went at 8 am, first on a little dinghy to get to our rather large banca, then to our main destination. For several of our employees, it was actually the first time to experience this kind of trip, and it was a pleasure to have them along. I am not the best on boats, so I was pleased to have a massive banca, and apparently equipped with an equally massive engine that was only running on the equivalent of first or second gear…

By the time we got to Pandanon, a fairly populated island, but that intelligently set aside the best beach and swimming area for tourists and charge a reasonable fee of PHP150 for the day and PHP250 for simple huts to base your stuff in, storm clouds were brewing on the horizon. We were the first folks there, and would be the only folks for at least another two hours so it felt very much like this wonderful tip of sand and sea were all ours… several boats docked after that, but it still remained quite pleasant.

We started cooking our lunch at about 11am, in communal barbecue pits placed between huts. A bit of charcoal, some rusty charred screen grills…

We rinsed the several talakitoks and sea prawns we purchased at the Opon market (Lapu-Lapu City) in the sea, drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper and put them onto the grill…

The fish and prawns were so fresh that the guys kept kidding each other that they would swim away if left for long in the water…

Local islanders had some pitik pitik or slipper lobsters for sale (we didn’t buy any) but they were also cooked on our grill. We did, however, purchase all of the live alimasag one vendor had on offer, and had them boiled in sea water, photo up top, and they were SUPERB. Sweet meat with that salty overlay… perfect with vinegar and crushed garlic!

For me, this is one of the most honest ways to enjoy the bounty of the sea, simply seasoned and grilled. And somehow, being on the shore heightens one’s appetite and taste buds, so the experience is almost always memorable…

A hearty lunch for 25, a few cases of beer and softdrinks, and an hour of beach volleyball which was more fun than I thought for a bunch of middle aged lechoneros and lechoneras (hahaha), and all under heavy grey clouds… but it didn’t rain much until we decided to head back to Mactan. Then it poured. And we had one last stop to snorkel near a marine reserve…

Here, a photo of the sand bar near Pandanon, with one of the Islands bancas at the tip. If it were a sunny day, it would have been even more perfect. But we’ll take a day of rest and relaxation with good food any day of the year… If we did this a day later, we would have been in for a serious ride if a “tsunami” had hit after the strong earthquake that hit the Negros and Cebu… :)



  1. Betchay says:

    I love the 1st photo above…..they are my favorite! Boiling in seawater must have given the alimasag the freshest superb taste! You are a good boss….treating your staff to a day of fun and relaxation after they worked hard during the Sinulog. And thank God you were safe from the earthquake and “possible tsunami”! God is really good!

    Feb 7, 2012 | 8:14 am


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  3. Anne :-) says:

    MM, just curious….did the shrimp stay succulent after grilling? We tried grilling them before but it went all chewy….

    Feb 7, 2012 | 8:31 am

  4. Thel from Florida says:

    Alimasag looks so yummy! Kagutom!!!

    Feb 7, 2012 | 8:31 am

  5. millet says:

    that talakitok looks so fresh it seems like it just swam right into the guy’s hands. going to bantayan in a few weeks, and looking forward to days like this.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 9:02 am

  6. Connie C says:

    Did the pitik pitik get snobbed? Though ugly looking, I find their meat sweeter than lobster.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:07 am

  7. bakerwannabe says:

    Connie C I agree with you regarding the sweetness of pitik pitik. My mother used to buy these by the basketful and we would have them for dinner. I usually eat half of the load. It is my favorite. I dip it in soy sauce and calamansi. with rice. Oh bliss.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:20 am

  8. Marketman says:

    Connie, we only saw the pitik pitik after we had purchased the crabs, and we had lots of food already… otherwise, they would have been wolfed down as well… :) Anne, just keep the shrimp in salty water before grilling, and don’t overgrill, if cooked right, they shouldn’t be chewy.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:32 am

  9. Eileen says:

    Everything looks so fresh and delicious. Pitik pitik is one of my Dad’s favorite. We usually have this when we go home to his home province Zamboanga city.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 11:15 am

  10. bisdakRN says:

    There’s something about the sea breeze and the sound of the lapping waves that heightens the appetite that even the sand and a few (or a lot) pesky flies can not even dampen. Ahhhh, cebu…i’ll never get tired of your beauty and all the fresh seafoods that you offer. Love the white sand….. Island hopping should be one experience that every local and tourist alike should not miss.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 11:30 am

  11. sophie says:

    this makes my tummy growl….(it sounds like an angry lion, lol)… i do salute you MM for being a great boss to your staff. taking good care not only of their welfare but making sure that they are enjoying too outside of their work.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 12:05 pm

  12. PITS, MANILA says:

    wow, you’re a good boss (even with that “lose it” bit), MM :)! everything on the grill looks delicious. and those boiled in seawater (never thought of doing that) — my favorite cooked seafood! all that and maybe some chopped tomatoes, siling labuyo and salted eggs on the side, and i’ll be very happy and content … a nice nap after …

    Feb 7, 2012 | 12:33 pm

  13. Jeff says:

    We did, however, purchase all of the live alimasag one vendor had on offer, and had them boiled in sea water, photo up top, and they were SUPERB. Sweet meat with that salty overlay… perfect with vinegar and crushed garlic!

    Wow pwede pala gamitin ang dagat for cooking! :)

    Pitik-pitik…uhmmmm…looks delicious! The closest thing to that here in Manila is the Alupihang Dagat… :)

    Feb 7, 2012 | 12:42 pm

  14. junb says:

    This is what life is supposed to be!!! Those shrimp and crab will cost a bomb if purchase in the city!

    Feb 7, 2012 | 1:35 pm

  15. MP says:

    Like Jeff, I didn’t realize you can boil seawater! Would it not be too salty?

    Too bad we can’t find any pitik-pikit in Manila. They’re one of my favorites…

    Feb 7, 2012 | 1:41 pm

  16. Libay says:

    “…And we had one last stop to snorkel near a marine preserve…” MM, maybe you mean MARINE RESERVE here? It’s an area (usually within a municipal water) where access is regulated and may include a marine sanctuary within its boundary.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 2:06 pm

  17. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Island living..life is good…we will be going home in May..not soon enough:):) Pictures are awesome!! we get a lot of fresh alimasag here either from the gulf or Maryland, .
    but cooking it your way …far from it:):) Everything looks delicious!!! life is a beach.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 2:33 pm

  18. Footloose says:

    An outrigger canoe, a calm sea and grilled fresh fish and shellfish, umm I can almost smell this salty idyllic arrangement.

    Alupihang dagat and pitik-pitik are the same (the two pictured above are humongous). Down our way, they are also called palpatok. Pitik-pitik and palpatok sound like onomatopoeic names taken from the knocking sound they produce when they jump. Their meat is sweeter and much more tender than that of lobster (actually closer to the taste and texture of true scampi) but they are daunting and painful to get to on account of their sharply barbed exoskeleton.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 3:56 pm

  19. Sarah says:

    Wow. What a spread, MM! Nothing better than fresh seafood, a salty breeze and sand between your toes.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 4:12 pm

  20. ariel says:

    Perfection, MM! Add cold beers, or chilled Albarino or Chablis and it’s heaven on earth!

    Feb 7, 2012 | 4:12 pm

  21. Kate says:

    So beautiful, MM :)

    Feb 7, 2012 | 4:30 pm

  22. Anne :-) says:


    Thanks for the tip. :-)

    Feb 7, 2012 | 5:40 pm

  23. Josephine says:

    It’s minus 9 degrees here this morning so this lovely story and photos of boats, beaches and beautiful edible sea creatures is a real heart warmer…

    Feb 7, 2012 | 5:44 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Footloose, could the alupihang dagat confusion be due to the use of a similar name for different crustaceans across the archipelago? Here are photos of alupihang dagat from a Legazpi market, different from the pitik pitik in the photos above, and in these photos from Palawan. But elsewhere in the country, they could have different names… Libay, you are absolutely correct, “marine reserve” it is, and the post has been edited, THANKS! In Maine and coastal New England, they sometimes boil lobsters in sea water… it’s like using salted water for pasta I suppose… :)

    Feb 7, 2012 | 7:37 pm

  25. eustressor says:

    I love the photos!!!

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:02 pm

  26. natie says:

    Aahhhh—lovely!!!! Soon…very soon, MM…same waters, different islands….we have the same idea of renting a big banca. Brother brought his rod and reel–hoping for good catch, but if not, the local markets will provide….Thanks for sharing, MM…

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:07 pm

  27. millet says:

    no, footloose, alupihang dagat ang pitik pitik are not the same. The former are called mantis shrimp or pissing shrimp, and have a relatively smaller, narrower head and a rounded body. Pitik is called slipper lobster.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:40 pm

  28. Mari says:

    aaaahhhh…. the alupihan dagat is what my mom and the rest of our clan call `Tatampal.’ I miss it and all the seafood…. but not for long!!! See you soon!

    Feb 8, 2012 | 1:20 am

  29. sur says:

    am getting sick of winter– this is just the post to transport me from cold and frigid southwest US

    Feb 8, 2012 | 1:22 am

  30. Footloose says:

    You two are right Millet and Marketman, those two specimens upstairs are butterfly fan lobsters (ibacus peronii) whereas the ones I am referring to that are alternately called alupihang dagat, palpatok and pitik-pitik are actually stomatopods.

    Feb 8, 2012 | 1:45 am

  31. betty q. says:

    MP…depending on where you are, I dare not boil my lobsters or crabs in shores of some bays. If the waters are pristine like the waters of Coron Island or Tsesinkut Lake which boasts of the clearest and cleanest water on our side of the globe, then I will go ahead and use the sea water to boil the crustaceans. They live in the ocean anyway…so cooking them in their natural habitat like sea water is the best for them…no salt needed like in using tap water!

    Jeff..not all dagat water is suitable for cooking those alimasag!

    Feb 8, 2012 | 1:49 am

  32. rita says:

    those seafood looks so good! can’t get any fresher than that. that’s for sure.

    Feb 8, 2012 | 2:37 am

  33. betty q. says:

    I will turn those beauties into cioppino today for supper….toasted baguette slices smeared with garlic and olive oil on bottom of bowl, topped with the steaming cioppino splashed with Pernod and drizzled with my home made prawn/lobster oil then finished with a bit of gremolata… eat it out on the patio with a thick sweater on and a toque!!!! Puede na rin imagining I am out near the water somewhere….what am I talking about…I am near the Fraser River!!!

    Feb 8, 2012 | 3:00 am

  34. VanillaKyle says:

    That is so relaxing… :D

    Feb 8, 2012 | 10:26 am

  35. ami says:

    MM, since you featured some updates on your stock portfolio, I would love to hear an update on the vegetable garden in Cebu that your crew put up.

    Feb 8, 2012 | 12:08 pm

  36. Marketman says:

    ami, evil results… we still have tanglad and other items, but no organized rows of veggies anymore… they didn’t fare well… :(

    Feb 8, 2012 | 12:47 pm

  37. ykmd says:

    My mouth is watering at the sight of those crabs! Picture-perfect!

    Feb 8, 2012 | 2:16 pm

  38. Novie says:

    ang sarap naman po!!! love love…..the food…the view…maraming salamat po talaga….sa walang sawang posts…

    Feb 8, 2012 | 4:32 pm

  39. Connie C says:

    Hi bettyQ! Cioppino it will be for Valentine’s Day dinner with toasted baguette slathered with lots of garlic butter. Wish I had the Buddha finger for the gremolada in case the garlic gets too overpowering for my Valentine.

    Feb 8, 2012 | 5:49 pm

  40. betty q. says:

    Oh…that is what I am making , too, Ms. Connie!!!! ….since everyone will be home…Plus a wicked Tiramisu for dessert!

    Feb 8, 2012 | 11:25 pm

  41. Maria Isabel Rodrigo says:

    mouth-watering all of them…..kakagutom…

    Feb 9, 2012 | 5:30 pm

  42. pinayfoodie says:

    wow, always a visual feast MM :) would love to return to Cebu one day and traipse on your scenic beaches and sample its freshest sea bounty :) cheers!

    Feb 9, 2012 | 6:10 pm

  43. Giancarlo says:

    wow that looks yummy

    Feb 12, 2012 | 3:14 am

  44. Fards says:

    Scuse me, MM. @Bettyq, any easy way of doing tiramisu?

    Feb 12, 2012 | 7:01 am

  45. jem says:

    hi what company did you book for your island hopping beside the island banca? :)

    Jan 8, 2014 | 2:24 pm


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