Tipay (Mother of Pearl Muscle/Meat) a la Noli


When news of my impending visit reached Culion island, our gracious host immediately set about to find some unusual food items that I might be interested in trying. He was aware of my amusing quest to find a fresh kasoy fruit the last time I was there (despite the season having just passed) and figured out that I had some pretty weird food quirks. So he sent a text message to ask if I would be interested in eating some “giant clam meat.” Obviously, something got lost in the translation as I pondered, mortified, that a possibly endangered species would be sacrificed for Marketman’s benefit. I tried to clarify and asked if this was those large clams and they said yes… and I said they were endangered and shouldn’t be harmed. I obviously thought the clam in question were those enormous ones that were 4-5 feet across and show up in cartoons hanging on to people’s arms or legs… It was the type of clam, after all, that made the world’s largest pearl, The Pearl of Allah, found in the Sulu Sea, off Palawan shores 60+ years ago and now the object of a major inheritance battle in the U.S., if I am not mistaken…


So during our first meal on the island, I was ceremoniously handed a plate filled with what looked like flat scallops and they said they were “tipay.” After a bit of discussion, it turns out (thank goodness!) that they were from farmed Mother of Pearl oysters (Pinctada Maxima) and they were the muscle of the shell, quickly sauteed in hot oil and with a dash of oyster sauce. They were quite delicious. A bit chewy but in a pleasant sort of way. Similar indeed to scallops and a totally new food for me. It turns out our host did some construction work for the nearby pearl farms and he knew a lot of the staff at the farms… he was able to ask for some of the discarded fresh oysters/Mother of Pearl meats after a harvest of cultured pearls that very morning. Cool. Very cool, if you ask me. And even cooler, the oysters are now farm raised by the thousands, hence the abundant availability of mother of pearl plates these days in local handicraft stores, at very reasonable prices. Of course, jokingly, I asked if Noli found any pearls when he opened up the shells that morning…

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14 Responses

  1. this is very good as kinilaw, MM. it is very crisp when raw. “adductor muscle”, i think, it what it’s called (am not sure). however, the ones I’ve tried before were from the taklobo (giant clam), long before these were endangered.

    in Leyte and Samar, scallops are called “tipay”.

  2. hmmm. are scallops the same as “capiz”? as in the ones they used in old windows and lamps? that’s how “tipay” was translated to me by relatives in leyte.

  3. Never had the opportunity in my entire life to have a taste or seen tipay meat. Now you introduce them to me and I am glad to know how they are – they look exotic to me. I am very familiar with mother of pearl when well crafted it is a masterpiece either as a piece of jewelry, carved and framed as a piece of wall hanging ornaments or part of the tableware ensemble.

  4. Very, very cool indeed! Not just a new taste but a very rare bit of meat.
    Incidentally, Wikipedia’s description refers to the giant clam as a geoduck clam. Not!!! Just google geoduck clam and you’ll see what I mean.
    Since these clams are “farmed”, I wonder why the meat is not readily available (or is it)?
    Grreat read MM, tenks a lot!

  5. Hi MM, anent your survey. I made carbonara using your recipe, only I used bacon available in the supermarket, and just one type of cheese-Kraft parmesan. Still, it was very good. Thanks!

  6. pictada maxima is the host for the south sea pearls. Yes they’re quite delicious alright. Quite yummy around the neck.

  7. i think that would also taste good if it were made as “tinola” or “kilaw”… yum yum yum

  8. Hi MM…if what you were given to eat belonged to the goduck family, the neck is the prized meat and can cost an arm and a leg. It is usually sliced paper thin and eaten raw with a dipping sauce similar to an Oriental dressing like Ginger Sesame dressing just napped over the paper thin slices….MASARAP!!!! But here is the best part, I think…if they are a CLOSE relative to SCALLOPS both in TASTE and TEXTURE, maybe you can coax them into turning it into a cottage industry like making the XO SAUCE recipe that I shall be sending to you via my sister. You can show them what the raw ingredient and the finished product looks like. I think it will be a good source of revenue for them instead of discarding them. DRIED SCALLOPS can cost an arm and a leg depending on the grade….sounds good?

  9. Tommy, thanks for that link. I have always been wary of Xango/pyramid type sales schemes. Frankly, I’d like to know how much mangosteen goes into each bottle if they are selling $350 million worth a year! And since the seasons are so short, how they are storing all this mangosteen pulp and who is peeling it as I haven’t seen a mangosteen peeling machine yet… On the flipside, I should charge PHP2,000 ($50) for a tiny bottle of my artisanal mangosteen jam and sell a limited edition of just 100,000 bottles a year globally and I will make a mint! :) At least I can prove I put about two kilos worth of mangosteen fruit is in every 8 oz bottle of jam!!!

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