Monday, September 14, 2015

My Love Affair With The Red Crab

My foodie family loves crabs. They are our favorite crustaceans, hands down. We would always consider serving them when we have guests coming over, or on any ordinary day that we could get our hands on good-sized ones, preferably bursting with aligue, the crab’s cholesterol-laden digestive system also called hepatopancreas. We love aligue so much we would buy bottled taba ng talangka to mix with our rice or pasta. My sister-in-law Joy used to buy them from a source in Pampanga.

Home-cooked curacha
At home, we would usually have our crabs steamed, sometimes with just ginger and lemongrass. Other times, we would have them fried with garlic or covered with aligue for more decadence.

Anywhere in the world, crabs are always a great idea (even in Vietnam where I once saw them listed on the menu as crap). Whenever I’m in San Francisco, my friends would drive me to Judah Street to dine at a Vietnamese restaurant called Thanh Long. Their roasted crab and garlic noodles are a pairing like no other.

White Pepper Crab at No Reservations

When my friend Badette and I went to Singapore last May, we enjoyed white pepper crabs at No Reservations and chili crabs at Lau Pa Sat Market. We actually ordered the black pepper crab at Lau Pa Sat but the waiter misunderstood and served us the chili crab instead.

When I couldn’t have crabs at home, I go get my fix at The Red Crab Alimango House. I equally love Casa Armas’s Thanh-Long-style king crab but it has ceased being an option since the restaurant closed its Podium branch.

Almost always, I go for Red Crab’s Crab Maritess. The crab is buried in a pile of toasted garlic that I love mixing with my steamed rice. When I used to have an annual catch-up lunch with my former boss, Boss Mike, this is what we’d order, along with his favorite, adobong pusit.

On this recent visit with Judd, however, I went for the Fidel’s Black Pepper Crab because I’ve been craving for the peppered version since that botched opportunity in Singapore.

We chose an 800-gram crab, classified as big, which is a good size for two people. They certainly didn’t hold back on the black pepper; the condiment enfolded the entire crab.

I went for the carapace first, and got as much as I could of the “crab butter.” I loved peeling the pepper-drenched cornflour-coating and mixing it with my rice. Then I went for the body while Judd had the claws. I pried the meat out of every chamber. The cartilage was tough, but the flesh was sweet and spectacularly delicious laced with the moderate heat of the black pepper and ginger. Thank God I was wearing a bib because, midway through the meal, I had butter dribbling down my chin and black pepper splattered all over me. I was licking my fingers until the end, perfectly content at what I consider to be a truly happy meal.

The Red Crab Alimango House
Tomas Morato Ave, Diliman, Quezon City
Phone (632) 374-8406

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