Crab Three Ways…

When my eldest brother announced he was going to try and bring 10 hectares of family fishponds in the outskirts of Lucena City back from the dead, we all wished him well. So about 9 months later, when he was expecting his first modest harvest of alimango, or mud crab, of course we had to be supportive and purchase some of the bounty. He had suffered minor setbacks at the start, like did you know if you overfeed crabs they basically don’t know when to stop and die from overeating???, but was slowly getting the hang of things. He has since converted some ponds to raising bangus in addition to crab, and is doing rather well I gather. So much so he has contracted to take on several more hectares of fallow ponds some distance away from his current location. At any rate, I put my hand up for 20 kilos of alimango from his first harvest, and he had them airfreighted to Cebu for us to use in the test kitchens…

First up, a baked crab recipe with lots of garlic, butter, olive oil and lemon juice. It’s a personal favorite of mine, so easy to do, and it really tastes delicious. I have an old recipe for it in the blog, here. Folks at the office enjoyed it, but I think it rated third of all three recipes we tried with the crab bounty.

Next up, we used the crab in some crab with sotanghon served in claypots. This was a huge hit with the crew, and a little crab goes a long way… the noodles are the delicious filler that sop up all the crab flavor that would have otherwise escaped somehow. An recipe for this dish, here. Excellent with lots of rice, in true pinoy fashion, to have both noodles and rice in one mouthful. :)

Finally, the absolute crowd favorite by a mile was the chill crab a la Marketman, old recipe here. This finger-licking, lip-smacking recipe has rarely failed to please. Thankfully, we used the most amount of crab for this preparation. Overall, the crab tasted wonderful, though a few were thinner than we would have liked (not in the overfed category)… but subsequent harvests have seen them get better and better by the month. We would love to serve either his bangus and/or crab at our restaurants in Manila (easier transport) in the future, as the idea of cooking and serving what was raised on family property just seems so right.


23 Responses

  1. Oh yes, I will agree that your chili crab recipe will not fail to satisfy. I have an orange-stained white dress to prove how much I got into it during your Friday the 13th beach house gathering. Please PLEASE serve it at the Makati restaurant soon!!!

  2. I recall that it was the thinner side-crawlers, either underfed cultured alimango or alimasag caught in the wild out of season, that were set aside and patiently picked for their piddly meat by my dear mother for her crab omelette that marked me for life. Until now no lobe of foie gras sandwiching prodigal slices of truffles can lure me from a carefully picked over crab omelette.

    Btw, crab in plural is a form one employs here with particular care.

  3. Footloose, I recall your fondness for a good crab omelette, and intend to finally make good on my several attempts to add one to the menu, even as a special. I had a failed open face on on the blog a few years ago, and a normal one just after I started the blog… But I will also try a torta style version and see what looks and works best…

  4. That they over-eat is new to me. Their brain is probably too primitive to detect satiety. I knew that they tended to follow the orientation of the sun and prefer wading in the shallow water at the pond’s edge where skilled passersby and intentional poachers easily pick them up. Mother did not seed with mud crab spawns her family’s fishpond at the edge of town to avoid friction with the neighbours. The few that were winnowed out later from the bangus main crop came in as spores with the change of seawater and are called “singaw”.

    On a tour in Sapporo, while waiting for my order to be taken off the grill, the chef explained to me through my guide/translator that spindly spider crabzillas are only cooked live because of an enzyme that liquify their muscles right after expiring which most likely also explains why it’s customary back home to cook only live ones.

  5. Crabs are thinnest when they just molted, so one of the ways to get the best male crabs is to look for the dirtiest colored bottom shells. This indicates that they haven’t molted in quite a while and will surely be filled with a lot of meat. Pressing on the bottom sides of the male crab is another way to determine meatiness (they should be firm and hard to oress). Crabs can be pricey so making sure you get good ones is a good skill to have.

  6. Has he considered soft shelled crabs? I think they’d be much easier to transport (frozen) and perhaps have faster turnover (no waiting for them to achieve maturity and marketable size).

  7. My dear mom made Adobong Alimango to the delight of family and relatives. She would pick the fattest, roe-laden female mud crabs. She sets aside the roe and mixes in some vinegar. Crabs are sectioned, claws cracked. Then begins the magic. I never learned how she cooked it and will now have to ask the aunts. All I remember is the the fatty goodness of it all!

  8. TL me…Tulo Laway….making me crabby (i’m under the Cancer sign) and lusting for those especially the sotanghon version…..hehehehe….reminds me of the all crab meal we had in Osaka last November….

  9. such yummy ways of cooking crab!! Crabs were so expensive during the Christmas holidays

    crabs can die from overeating – fun fact!

  10. MM, just try plain steamed crabs on your menu.. I’d go for that, with baby-wipes on the side. Just like they do with lobsters in Maine.. No need for taste-test with crew.

  11. Natie, the key is keeping a reasonable number of alimango alive when customer orders are unpredictable and fickle… But for the weekend crowd, perhaps a special until the critters run out… I love fresh suahe just steamed as well… :)

  12. All this talk of crab reminds of more crab, those little ones called talangka to be precise. They were regarded by fish pond owners as pest and I can see now why, they over-eat the food set for their bangus. Simply salted and allowed to sit overnight, the pickled meat, coral and other solids were squeezed over rice with a bit of lime or calamansi juice and off to the races you go. A surefire recipe for a gastroenterology visit but we were young, strong and foolish so we did not care.

  13. Since I don’t have instagram, I’ll just post here. Goodluck on the dry run later and all the happenings this weekend!

  14. Try eating Pinais na alimango at Gloria Maris at Greenbelt 1, very good.

  15. Hi MM,
    Talking about crabs just makes me long for the dungeness crabs in Washington State. Did you try them when your out that way? They are just delicious. I usually cook them with lots of ginger and salted black beans or with ginger and coconut milk. Yum. The alimango, are these bigger than the blue crabs? I do find the blue crabs too tedious to eat.
    I will make sure to look Zubuchon up when I go to Manila. My sister and I were just in to one here in Cebu. I ordered the kamias shake for her and she liked it. Now I am trying to copy that.
    Lots of kamias at the farm. More power to you. God bless!

  16. *Out of topic* – Congratulations to your Sister for winning the Dalemain Marmalade Awards again! First prize for Any Citrus Marmalade and Marmalade Macnab! :-)

  17. Steamed crabs dipped in vinegar with lots of garlic, salt and black pepper. As simple as that. I’m happy…



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