Sunday, June 21, 2009

Steamed “Alimango” (Mud Crab)

We were supposed to buy sea crabs (“alimasag”) yesterday for our regular Saturday seafood dinner. However the supermarket only had a few which didn’t look and smell fresh. Not wanting to pass the day though without the much awaited seafood meal, I suggested we check the seaside stores which sometimes sell sea crabs and shrimps. It proved to be a very wise decision indeed; we ended up with a better find - live mud crab (“alimango”).

The seller informed us that the mud crabs were freshly caught from the nearby mangrove forest. From the stores location you can actually see the thriving mangrove area which happens to be adjoining part of the alignment of the highway project we are constructing.

While southern Sri Lanka has vast mangrove reservation forest, it is quite surprising to seldom see these mud dwelling decapods crustaceans being sold in the market or even along seaside stores. I am suspecting restaurant owners have pre-arrangements with local fishermen to directly buy the daily catch. Why not? They are among the top orders by tourists’ diners even it’s often times pricey.

Since they are everybody’s favorite, we didn’t think long to buy all six crabs weighing a little less than 2 kilos at a very reasonable price (way lower than in Manila). We headed home smiling. Our dinner is assured to be special. The crab’s claws (chelae) will finally meet its match, they will be the ones to be gripped and crushed. C”,)

Basic preparation for mud crab does not require special knowledge or skill. Like shrimps, its delicate meat taste superb even without adding anything. You can practically just have it cooked in boiling water, steamed or fried in a little oil and it will taste good. But of course, with the correct amount of a few select ingredients, the taste will be enhanced to make it extra special.

For our crabs, we will prepare it the way most Filipinos cooked and enjoyed them - steamed. It’s simple, easy and foolproof. Yes, my 12 years old son Naven can cook it this way..:-)

First you have to clean the crabs thoroughly. You know where they live and you don’t want traces of its dwelling in your food, right?

You will need about 2 tbsp garlic, crushed, 1/2 tsp ground pepper (optional), ½ cup sprite or seven up, 3 tbsp vinegar, calamansi or lemon juice and 2 tbsp butter.

Arrange half of the crabs in a large pot. Sprinkle half of the crushed garlic and ground pepper on top. Mix sprite and vinegar and pour half over the crabs. Add the rest of the crabs and remaining garlic, ground pepper and sprite-vinegar mixture.

Steam tightly covered until crabs turn bright red, about 20 or 30 minutes.

When cooked, remove immediately from pot and serve. Make sure to have a lot of steamed rice ready.

Melt the butter and mix with calamansi (or lemon) juice for a wonderful dunking sauce. Others like calamansi + soy sauce + chili. My mom only likes calamansi + sea salt. My sister Cha likes the crab even without sauce at all. :-)) Whatever dips you like, it will come out as truly tasty but a little messy meal.

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