20 Apr2010

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They called it “saliot” or “saliyut” or “sali-yot” at the public market in Coron, Palawan… and when asked to describe from where it was obtained, it became clear that it was some sort of shell meat. In fact, they were describing what sounded like large clams. Could these be from baby giant clams? I hoped not, as I think those are considered endangered and shouldn’t be touched at all. Plus there was so much of this on offer, it didn’t sound like there was a shortage of whatever shell was giving up its stunning looking innards for human consumption. Pieces of white “meat” were edged with the most mesmerizing opalescent like lips. The colors deep green blues, and irridescent shades in between framed by jet black. They were packaged in plastic bags in ready to go portions. I have no idea how they cook this, either.

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I haven’t found any more information on this ingredient and hope that some readers might be able to shed some light on them. What types of shells do they really come from, are these on coral reefs, or from deeper depths? How are they cooked? What do they taste like?

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Lynn says:

    If this is anything like the giant clams, we used to prepare it as kinilaw before it was classified as endangered. Of course, it was served as a side dish to lechon.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 5:03 am

     
  2. kitchen says:

    Hmmm…

    Apr 20, 2010 | 8:31 am

     
  3. kitchen says:

    Make a Clam Chowder?…

    Apr 20, 2010 | 8:32 am

     
  4. meh says:

    I can assure you, these are DEFINITELY giant clams!!! And yes they are protected under Philippine laws. SAD…………. I mean, I know seagoing people still eat them sometimes, but I did not know there’s a commercial market for them in the Philippines :(

    Apr 20, 2010 | 9:18 am

     
  5. meh says:

    Oh, to answer your other questions: yes these are collected from coral reefs. Giant clams have symbiotic algae living in their colorful mantle tissue, and these algae ‘share’ the products of their photosynthesis with their host giant clam. Thus the clams need abundant sunlight, and live in the same zone as corals (that incidentally also host the same symbiotic algae). The species is probably Tridacna maxima. What you show in the pictures look like fully grown individuals. Giant clams grow quite slowly, so at the rate they’re harvesting this is NOT AT ALL a sustainable fishery….. in my experience giant clams are appreciated raw, straight from the sea, by many Pacific Islander cultures. However most other Pacific Island nations have smaller populations and less voracious appetites, so they can afford to eat some of their giant clams. That’s not the case in the Philippines.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 9:24 am

     
  6. millet says:

    uh-oh, those look like Tridacna, (giant clams, or taklobo). even in the puerto princesa market i was shocked to see some of these being sold in the shell. the vendor gave me a salestalk about how good they were as kinilaw, and how much the foreigners loved them. when i told the vendor it was illegal to catch and sell them, he grew defensive and said they were just left there by someone he didn’t know, to be picked up by another person he didn’t know either. i wanted to tell him to go tell it to the marines. tsk, tsk…the poaching is unabated in most of the country.

    the DENR says with our long, long coastlines, they simply do not have the resources to patrol everywhere. but i think they could start with the markets and provedores.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 10:27 am

     
  7. Teresa says:

    Let’s put it this way; if there’s no market demand then there is no need for supply. Starting at the markets would be a good measure to control the situation and enforce the law. If the retailers are pressured to stop trading then what’s the point in taking them out of the sea. However, won’t that drive the price of the commodity higher, much like the long list of illegal stuff, that is continuously traded? This is sad…Do they produce pearls? I happen to like pearls too. MM, how much did these sell for?

    Apr 20, 2010 | 11:33 am

     
  8. junb says:

    If ever these are proven to be the endangered giant clam species I don’t think the poor fisherman or the villagers will be the one to blame here :(

    Apr 20, 2010 | 11:48 am

     
  9. juli says:

    I am from Culion. These came from what we call taklobo. Big as in BIG clams. The tagbanuas used to sell these hooked on rattan strings. My grandma makes delicious adobo with these. Hard to digest though. Sometimes you get lucky and find pearls in its flesh. Oh how I miss home and island food.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 12:05 pm

     
  10. Ley says:

    Those are meat from takobo, an endangered specie. I saw pictures of takobo displayed in the airport along with other endangered shells. There is a floating restaurant in an island in Lapu Lapu City that sells these shells with impunity. Their number patrons are Japanese vacationing in Shangrila. They serve the meat kinilaw style.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 12:07 pm

     
  11. adam says:

    Very very unlikely to be for Tourists in Coron (unless it’s being flown out to the Cities) – it’s not really their thing. I guess instead gathered and sold for local consumption. A sad reflection on how very quickly natural resources will diminish here. Am pleased you did not see / show any sharks fins or large Rays at the market MM otherwise that really would have ruined my week…. It’s ironic that we all take delight in seeing wonderful produce in the markets but somehow vendors and purchasers cannot seem to resist the opportunity to munch their way through anything endangered.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 1:35 pm

     
  12. Jack Hammer says:

    Hahahaha…..Caveat Emptor….Hot Soup…you will land in….Yoda says.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 3:09 pm

     
  13. Jack Hammer says:

    From Wikipedia (unconfirmed):

    Mass culture of giant clams began at the Micronesian Mariculture Demonstration Center in Palau (belau).[25] A large Australian government-funded project from 1985-1992 mass cultured giant clams, particularly T. gigas at James Cook University’s Orpheus Island Research Station, and supported the development of hatcheries in the Pacific Islands and the Philippines.[26] Recent developments in aquaculture, specifically at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and in the Marshall Islands, have succeeded in tank-raising T. gigas both for use in home aquariums and for release into the wild.

    So maybe…..maybe…these are cultured, please make sure and enjoy !!!!

    Hot Manchow Soup Indeed !!!!

    Apr 20, 2010 | 3:28 pm

     
  14. Marie says:

    i never tried this recipe yet, ty for sharing

    Apr 20, 2010 | 6:00 pm

     
  15. millet says:

    no, am very sure these are not cultured. there is a Tridacna culture center in Pangasinan (Bolinao or Lingayen), I think, but it’s not for research, not commercial purposes.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 6:17 pm

     
  16. Marketman says:

    Hi everyone, I am still not convinced these are indeed giant clams. I am told by a native that this come from medium sized shells embedded in reefs. Giant clams are generally on the ocean floor separate and not attached to the reef. So there may be a difference. At any rate, I suspect its not right to eat these even if they aren’t giant clams…

    Apr 20, 2010 | 6:24 pm

     
  17. maru217 says:

    they are definitely giant clams or taklobo. MM, giant clams can be embedded in the reef, with the corals, and endemic giant clams are just medium sized.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 9:38 pm

     
  18. miks says:

    hi MM, my first post here! just to add to the discussion. The baby giant clams in anilao are growing w/in the coral structure. Sometimes only the very colorful lip can be seen because its within the crevices.

    Apr 20, 2010 | 11:09 pm

     
  19. meh says:

    Hi MM, I am a marine biologist working on coral reefs, so you can trust me on this one :> These are giant clams or taklobo, but you’re thinking of the biggest species that becomes really enormous and isn’t attached to corals (Tridacna gigas). Rather, this is the second-biggest species (Tridacna maxima). These are fully grown individuals, and yes they’re found on coral reefs. ALL giant clam species are protected under Philippine laws.

    Millet you’re absolutely right that there’s giant clam aquacultulre in Bolinao, Pangasinan, at the marine lab run by the University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute. The clams are ‘seeded’ onto reefs for research and conservation purposes. Definitely not for eating (although yes there have been incidents of poaching)…..

    Apr 21, 2010 | 1:08 am

     
  20. quiapo says:

    I didn’t know they were protected!! You can order them in Sydney at specialist Chinese seafood restaurants.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 4:06 am

     
  21. meh says:

    Quiapo — they are not legally protected in all countries. I don’t know what the laws are in Australia.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 6:55 am

     
  22. Marketman says:

    meh, okay I will totally trust your take on this as well as that of other readers. Giant clam, bummer, illegal too. I know someone who had a foreigner arrested when he killed one of her “pet” giant clams that she was caring for for decades in an effort to replenish lost stocks… Next time I see this in the market, I will ask the vendors about it, inform them they are illegal and definitely will not consume it. Thanks.

    Apr 21, 2010 | 9:27 am

     
  23. mixed feelings says:

    sad to see these on the market. i am however, very happy to see so many filipinos and other readers mentioning sustainable fishing. we need to keep spreading the word amongst our brothers and sisters in philippines about protecting our native reefs. fast cash is already destroying our country so stay strong fishers, stay on the straight and narrow…

    Apr 23, 2010 | 8:20 am

     
  24. Marketman says:

    my personal guess is that we passed sustainable fishing when our national population crossed about 30-35 million, about 50 years ago. If population levels had remained at about that level, we would have MORE than enough food from the land and sea. Instead, we are barreling towards 100 million in a couple more years, so it’s no wonder there are shortages of nearly every commodity. If there were 50 million less people, we wouldn’t have shortages in rice, sugar, fish, etc. :(

    Apr 23, 2010 | 8:56 am

     
  25. meh says:

    hear hear, MM! I want to echo Teresa’s question — how much were these selling for?

    Apr 23, 2010 | 10:05 am

     
  26. Marketman says:

    meh, I didn’t even ask, but I suspect they were dirt cheap, like PHP50-70 per package, which really breaks my heart when I think of the clams they come out of, and I am a carnivore…

    Apr 23, 2010 | 10:44 am

     
  27. mm says:

    i think there’s not that much tridacna in coron. if ever, the ones in the picture came from taytay bay and or linapacan area. and yes, the species is banned from trading or any movement in the philippines. these animals are supposed to be protected by law

    Apr 25, 2010 | 11:14 pm

     
 

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