Takla / Crayfish / Crawfish


Late afternoon, we visited the Mangga market in Tagbilaran, Bohol to see what the local fishermen had brought back from their day’s toil at sea. Locals shop this market around 4-5:30 p.m. (and early morning, I gather) to buy the freshest ingredients for their dinner. Besides the sanga or whale meat that I wrote about yesterday, I spied these creepy crawlers that looked somewhat like crayfish or crawfish. When I asked what they were, the vendor said they were called “takla” and that they were caught in mangroves, or marshes with brackish water. After inspecting them more closely, and looking up references, they do indeed seem that these are one of dozens if not hundreds of members in the crayfish family around the world. Isn’t that cool? I had NO idea we had crayfish locally. We had no way to cook them on our brief trip, so I just took some photos (instead of buying and cooking) and added a mental note to remember and get back to Bohol in April/May so I could try them then…


Some locals felt these were “sweeter’ than prawns, while others described them as having a “stronger flavor”. Crawfish would be delicious steamed with some lemon butter sauce, or even included in a seafood paella. I wish they were more abundant and available even in Manila… If you are from the surrounding provinces like Negros, Leyte, etc., do you know if these crayfish also thrive in your area? Please leave a comment if they do. Thanks.



54 Responses

  1. I’m from Australia and they look alot like what we call yabbies or freshwater crayfish.. some of my best memories are going down to the local creek/lake on a hot summers day with a couple of nets and chicken bones and catching these delicious things! They are very much like sweet prawns.

  2. I live in Sorsogon and I have seen crawfish in Prieto-Diaz, a municipality here. It’s known locally as ananakla. The taste is indeed sweeter than shrimps and much more aligue too. On the other hand, shrimps taste brinier. The aligue is found on the head and in cases of fat ananakla, is a vivid shade of orange. Try cooking this in chili-garlic sauce. Sarap!

  3. MM,

    We call these crawfish in the US, they are abundant in Louisina and they are often boiled with potatoes, corn, spices, etc.

  4. MM, these or a relative specie were once abundant in Bataan and neighboring provinces, but not so much these days since they thrive on clean freshwater rivers which are harder and harder to come by….as far as I know, these or a relative specie are protected by law and NGO’s like Bantay Kalikasan…and due to scarcity and hassle of catching it (read illegal)…these go upwards PHP400++ per kilo

    and yes they are sweeter than prawns

  5. denise, it didn’t sound like these were illegal in Bohol, but I can’t say that for sure. They were roughly PHP100 per kilo in Tagbilaran, and relatively available at a certain time of year…

  6. It was being sold to us before as baby lobsters. but at the “cheap” price of shrimp. go figure :P but after trying it, I realized that I am allergic to it. or maybe cuz it was the first time i tried it.

    funny though. in kapampangan (my mom is from tarlac), takla means poop.

  7. I remember flipping through tv channels some years back and I came upon a local agriculture show with a segment on crayfish farming. so I guess crayfish have been farmed locally for quite some time now.

  8. Hi Mr. Marketman. =D I believe these are quite plentiful during certain times of the year in the Kabankalan City public market about 80 kilometers south of Bacolod. The the locals refer to them as pahi. Price goes for about 300 pesos per kilo which is rather expensive compared to the ones you encountered in Tagbilaran. =P

  9. Aha! I was wondering when you were going to feature these babies. Lots of these here in Leyte. Be careful when handling them because they can be snappish and make good use of those pincers. For the non-Bisayas, they’re called takla because of the clucking noise they make. Delicious plain sauteed in a bit of oil, with ginger juice, kalamansi, salt and black pepper. Their shells are a bit tougher compared to shrimps’.

  10. i had a basinful of these in Marinduque a long time ago, where they are called “manakla” (“takla” sounds….uhmmm..totally unedible :-( …..i think i had one too many because i remember having severe abdominal cramps that night. those in you pics look like fat ones. wait, would they be related to “alupihang-dagat”? i think those are called yabbies, too. they used to have large, succulent ones in tawi-tawi which the locals call “kamun”.

  11. I’m from Donsol Sorsogon and so far, have not seen those in the local market. If it’s caught in the mangroves, Donsol should have it. The rivers in Donsol are still unpolluted. Will ask around and check it out. The locals might not just be interested in it hence they don’t catch it. Just like the butandings… the locals have seen them since God knows when… but my mom said that when they were younger, my lolo would tell them to keep quiet and keep still when they encounter it (fear of the hunge unknown). They know for a fact that it’s just fat and very few meat so no use catching them…

  12. wow wow wow wow!!! i’m so excited to see that we have these locally!!! backyard crawfish boil coming up! artisan chocolatier, whaddya think?

  13. They are distantly related being both crustaceans but not quite kissing cousins since alupihang dagat are stomatopods caught in salt water and these look just like French écrevisses which thrive in fresh water.

    They are called ulang in Tagalog. A friend from Laguna once brought us a pot of them cooked in coconut milk (as most special dishes there) until the liquid ran down and the crayfish slicked up and glistened. Que rico.

  14. I come from Bohol MM and everytime I’ve the chance to go home to Tagbilaran, my taste buds holler for ‘takla.’

    I had my first taste of pan-fried takla 10 years ago in the town where it is most abundant–Calape. Takla factoid 101: fishermen in Calape use tobacco butts and ash as bait for ‘takla’ and make the ‘takla sound’ (you know what I mean? So the name ‘takla’) whilst they fish to attract the ‘takla’ near mangroves. (The detailed catching procedures escape me now). The town’s street vendors sell them strung together in a ‘sako’ string, much like the one in your photo. I’ve tasted a variety of prawns, lobsters and what-not but, by far, takla still has the smashing taste for me. Indeed, sweeter and tastier than prawns!

  15. mmmm…takla…i’m going to repeat what clarissa said, “takla” means poop in kapampangan. so i am now more disinclined to eat them. ;)

  16. Here in Vietnam there’s really no crayfish but they sometime repackage the crayfish from China and labeled it as made in Vietnam. Though they have tiger prawns whom they often mistaken for crayfish but they are not. But one thing is for sure… Australia has a large crayfish fauna.

    You always have interesting discovery that you always share, thanks MM. :)

  17. @wahini…..I’m allergic to crustaceans, but I’m willing to try some…should be good with a bottle of ice-cold beer!! The veranda at Casa Escano would be a perfect setting!

  18. MM i saw u on travel yestrday here in abu dhabi… wala lang kse la ka pix sa blog mo lage
    nkatalikod atleast ngaun lam ko na how u look like..ang saya saya really wen i saw u on travel and i was like shouting thats him like i knew you personally.. hehehe personal n rin cguro un kung araw araw mong binabasa blog ng tao db?its sort of a habit na nga eh.. yun lang hehehe..kaw nga ba yun? hejehe naniniguro lang bka mali..hehejehe…keep on writing…god bless….

  19. MM…I made a search on your archives and am now a bit confused between these babies and the post you made on “ulang”…too many seafood varieties that I have eaten over the years…hehe

  20. Looks like sea roaches hehehe! A similar species is abundant in the mudflats and sandy coastline of bataan…they call it ”palatak” or ”alupihang dagat”…its tastier but less meatier than prwans. By the way..”TAKLA” hahaha…its the old tagalog word and present day capampangan word for poopoo…hehehe!(“,)

  21. Whenever we go down south, especially early spring, I’m always on the lookout for crawfish/crayfish Cajun style boil using freshwater crawfish from Louisiana mainly. I love digging into a pail/bucket-full of these! Dipping the sweet tail-meat into drawn butter/lemon dip & sucking the fatty heads clean!

    Vietnamese immigrants to the Gulf area have taken on this southern signature dish & spreading the joy of eating this delicacy – Asian version, not just in the Louisiana-Texas area but all along both Western & Eastern seaboards as well and venturing into the midland states.

    Here are two articles, one from the NYT food section & the other from the Boston Globe re this growing & delightful trend:



  22. MM,

    I grew up in Olongapo City and these or a close relative thereof was called “atla” was a favorite delicacy of my mother’s. She got up in the wee hours (3 am-ish) to meet the fisher-folk in Subic who caught them as I don’t believe they ever made it to the market.

  23. Off the tangent, MM….just would like to wish SILLY LOLO and SILLY LOLA …HAPPY 50TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY (BELATED!)…

  24. Jack, are you referring to the bizarre 10-15% drop in the Dow last Thursday?, with the suspicion now being directed at computer trading programs, though the stocks jumped almost right back up, or because of the European crisis in the making? or both? Either way, I still think over the long run you can’t do too badly with good stocks… :)

  25. Since I am in the Executive Committee for Investment for our Company in Global Stocks, I keep a track of all factors affecting our Holdings. Market conditions as well as Technical Analysis.

    I made a recommendation a week ago TO SELL before the actual selloff and now we are laughing our way to the bank. We have also picked up many stocks in our Core Portfolio at 10-25% cheaper than at their Year High.

    I too am an advocate of Long Term Defensive Investing, but if we can make an informed judgement, and increase our Bank Balance, then ofcourse our Bonuses will be bigger. Bottom line being Cash in the Bank.

  26. I come from Iloilo and I have seen crayfish in my hometown but only very rarely….

  27. Happy golden anniversary to Silly Lolo. I trust the renewal of vows and subsequent honeymoon did not permanently put you out of commission. Hoping to hear from you soon (and this applies to BettyQ too).

  28. my great grandmother loved these!!! she would cut them open at the back, put them in a big bowl, pound lots of garlic, ginger, black pepper and just sprinkle them on cleaned, raw crayfish shake them vigorously after salting them. they sit for about 15 to 30 minutes, then she eats them raw. said they were sweet!!!! i remember her eating these with steamed rice.

  29. The newest restaurant trend here in Silicon Valley are crayfish restaurants. Many are owned by the Vietnamese community and offer the Cajun preparation which people are familiar with and ‘Asian’ preparations as well. Matter of fact, you can pretty much travel the world on your tastebuds in Silicon Valley. Good jobs maybe scarce, but at least you can eat (on a budget).

  30. @Chris Davis – i too, am from Olongapo and remember these being called ‘atla’. they are good just plain boiled or steamed with a good, spicy sinamak as dipping sauce.. they are very rarely sold in the market nowadays. i guess they became ‘extinct’ what with the polluted waters around Gapo… )-:

  31. I love crayfish! They’re good esp if they have aligue. We call them alupihan, but the ones my mom buy in Malolos look a bit different from the crayfish you spotted in Bohol. But I’m not sure..
    They’ve been disappearing actually. They haven’t been available in the wet market in Malolos for a few years already, until they reappeared last weekend. =D They are in season Jun-July, I heard.

  32. I used to work for a company that assigned me to work in Louisiana for several months and crayfish is a delicacy there and served boiled in large heaping baskets that you are expected to consume in one sitting. Most of my co-workers just loved eating these little creatures.
    For some odd reason ( I am a very adventurous eater and will try most anything ) I couldn’t get myself to try them. I kept thinking Termites.

  33. MM, my parents came back from Bohol yesterday and will be going back there next week or so. I will tell them to buy the takla – if they can still find them and bring them home. They brought back lobster from Palawan and ulang from Nueva Ecija before . Crayfish would be really interesting. I wonder if I can cook them Thai curry style…

  34. I didn’t know they have crawfish in the Phil. It’s abundant here in LA they just boil it with old bay and some creole seasoning

  35. speaking of crawfish from Louisiana, was in New Orleans a couple weeks ago for work and got to try crawfish etouffee (eh-too-fey) for the first time. it was soooo good!!! would highly recommend it to you MM!

  36. I have 3 of these as pets. LOL Really want to try eating crayfish but sadly crays aren’t available here in Davao. :)

  37. As Artist Chef Vietnam posted, Australia has a wdie variety of crayfizh.crawfish.yabbie. Mostly these are freshwater species found in freshwater river, creeks, dams, and freshwater impoundmnets. THere are also several aquaculture businesses growing different species of these, mainly for export markets , but a growing domestic market . Some species are protected here in Australia, and some can grow over 12 inches ( 300mm) in length. The red claw variety are numerous in certain areas. Delicious to eat and a simple way to cook is to just boil them whole.

  38. My parents did brought home 2kg of takla yesterday. They ordered it directly from the fisherman at 250 pesos/kg, though they were way far smaller than your picture. I cooked it hinalabos-style for our dinner. They were more sweeter and malinam-nam than shrimps or prawns.

  39. Hi, I’m a filipino and I live in the cajun world right now, in Louisiana USA. people here raise crawfish and almost everybody raise and eat them. they catch crawfish from december to June the next year. anf if you wanna eat crawfish with the right ingredients, come and visit us, you’ll never forget the taste once you try it. we put crawfish boil, crawfish oil, garlic and bay leaves, we have the best food in the world here. God bless y’all.

  40. I’m from iloilo now living in australia. i have few fresh water blue lobsters (crayfish) in my aquariums. i have few more pairs of red claw crayfish coming 2 weeks from now. these things grow super fast and can reach up to about 500grams in just a year if you feed it right. here in australia they are a delicacy and not so cheap too. you’re looking at about $AU 25-35 a kilo of these (P975.00 minimum) definitely a sometime food for me, i’d rather buy galunggong instead, but don’t get me wrong because tastewise naman ay talagang napakasarap no matter how you cook the thingy. so when i’ve learned from here that it’s only 100-300 pesos there in pthe philippines, that’s so cheap i’d better buy a lot when i come back home….!

  41. its sounds “Funny:” to the kampampangan…because “takla” means poop…but they are delicious..

  42. Hello MM, do you think crawfish here in Louisiana will survive in the phil? thinking of having crawfish ponds in the phil. and can you give us some tips where to start? thanks

  43. Takla would be the subject of my research study.. I’ll focus on its cytogenetics or its biodiversity. anyone who can help me? :)

  44. yes we have takla here in negros oriental. you can see it it dumaguete city near in the port area. they use it as a pa in for fishing.

  45. I am from New Orleans in Louisiana and we eat crawfish in Louisiana. They are a staple of the Cajun people’s diet from Southwest Louisiana. I am happy to know that they are available because I would love to have a Crawfish Boil in the Phils. I am in New Orleans today but returning to the PI on Friday. I will stock my luggage with the spice packages for boiling crawfish (see crab boil at zatarains.com). In addition to the spices we add fresh corn on the cob, small potatos, large garlic and lemons to the boil. We generally boil them in batches of 15 to 20 kilograms and the average person will eat about 2 kg. The Cajun culture is very similar to the PI culture with their love a good party with lots of food and beer.

  46. Very similar to crayfish, crawdads or crawfish found all over the world. Extremely popular in Southern USA but also in the Northwest USA. Jake’s Famous Crawfish is a popular restaurant in Portland Oregon over 100 years old that features them in both their name and menu. And the Tualatin Crawfish Festival just south of Portland is an annual event.

    There are so many good recipes that can feature or include crayfish, put paella is a natural. Since crayfish are natural scavengers, commercial outfits that caught them would often keep them in underwater cages for a few days before selling, feeding them green matter (like lettuce) to allow them to clean their digestive system.

    I used to catch them while scuba diving, swimming along a lake bottom with a net bag and just scooping them up. Again, in Oregon USA.

  47. Saan po ba makakabili ng takla/crayfish dito sa manila? :o kailangan kasi namin for our project in zoology :((



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