A Pescetarian

 

I love eating fish. If people who loves eating veggies are called vegetarians, then call me a “pescetarian”.

Yes, I prefer eating fish in all its culinary forms than eating pork or beef. Do you know that fish is considered a brain food?

Fish also reduces the risk of heart ailments, stroke, obesity, arthritis, high blood pressure and cancer.

Pork, chicken and beef are usually prepared with chemicals or preservatives that may prove harmful to our health. Moreso, for canned sausages, liver spreads, corned beef and hotdogs.

Bicol Dish: Ginataang Yellow Fin

Bicol Dish: Ginataang Yellow Fin

Fish is likewise an iron builder thus lowering the risk of developing anemia. Mind you, most vegetarians may succumb to anemic deficiencies.

So, don’t you wish you were a “pescetarian” like me?

Fish in Sour Soup

 

Advertisements

Seashells and Crustaceans

Being the beachcomber that I am, I would like to share with you the various kinds of exotic SEASHELLS and edible CRUSTACEANS found in the seas of my native hometown of Sorsogon, Philippines.


The beach has always been an alluring and favorite destination for local vacationists and beach bums, but I noticed not all of them are that interested in collecting those cute sea shells of all shapes and sizes strewn all over the seashore. Maybe collecting isn’t their primary concern.

image

For me, sea shells are my passion. I take them home as tokens of our sea for a lifetime’s keepsake. Every type of sea shell represent wonderful works of shell art created for thousands of years.

image

image

Those empty sea shells were once a home to mollusks. These are soft and slimy sea creatures that build their shells by secreting a liquid that hardens in the passing of time. As the mollusk grows, their shell enlarge simultaneously. Special glands create color pigments just before new layers of shell harden. Marine mollusk are janitors of the sea bed. They forage for grub and serve as filters to cleanse our seas. Once washed ashore or crushed by strong waves, they also serve as food for fish or birds.

image

image

image

image

image

image

Sea shells are our partners in maintaining an ecological balance of our sea environment. That is why we should NOT over-collect them as it may disturb our ecosystem.

Some unscrupulous collectors even capture live sea shells in bulk. They are killed, cleaned and sold commercially.

The 2001 Philippine Fisheries Administrative Order 208 protects rare, threatened, and endangered species of sea shells. Taking or catching them except for scientific research purposes is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years or a fine of up to P120,000 (USD 2,697) or both.

The best time to select and collect these cuties is during low-tide. You will be amazed how the vast seashore would appear carpeted by these multi-colored sea shells.

They come in two types. The gastropod can be identified with a single shell such as the conch and whelks, while the bivalves have two hinged shells like clams and scallops.

After selecting my choice shells I preserve them by boiling them to remove dead tissues. Then I flush the shells with pressurized water for final cleaning. I then group the shells into their respective species and store them in a wooden box. The bigger ones I’d use as home decor.

image

image

Seashells and mollusk are also a favorite source of food in Sorsogon. There are numerous kinds of sea shells or conches. But most abundant and common edible conches in our area are called “sahang”, “balagwitan” and “liswik”.

image

image

“Liswik” is usually found in mangroves by the shore and are easy to catch at low-tide.

“Sahang”, “Liswik” and “Balagwitan” are glossy brown in color with pointed ends. You need a pointed stick or perdible safety pin to remove the meat from the shell. They are cooked with coconut milk and potato vine.

image

image

Also found here are shells with a pointed end. Eating its meat once cooked is by sucking the opening of shell to pull the meat out.

We call the bigger and longer one as “lansangan” or “burubod”.

The smaller (we call it “sihi”) and the bigger but shorter (we call it “dodo-dodo” or “samong”) ones are what we gather from mangroves or rocks.

You will need a bolo (native machete) to chop off pointed end of the “burubod”, “sihi” and “dodo-dodo” shells before cooking so you can suck out its meat.

image

Another interesting seashell found here is called “layag-layag”. It is known to be quite venomous if not handled correctly when caught. It has a kind of sharp “tongue” like tissue that injects the venom. When I was a kid I used to play with this not knowing it was venomous. While petting it, I just saw my finger bleeding. Thereafter, I learned to hold the “layag-layag” from behind. However, its venom disappears once cooked. Its meat is super delicious. This shell is one of my favorites. Picking out its meat is effortless. Just use a table fork and enjoy its tasty meat.

image

We also have lots of clams that are cooked with creamy coconut milk and veggies. They can be grilled with butter or just simply boiled and dip in soy sauce. And that’s good enough for a poor man’s lunch.

Delicious clam soup cooked with ginger and fresh highly nutritious and medicinal “malunggay” or horseradish (Moringa) leaves is another one of my favorites. It is said to prevent goiter.

image

image

Other than sea shells, Sorsogon also boasts of several varieties of crustaceans. They are scientifically called arthropods. Edible crustaceans include crabs, lobsters, and shrimps to say the least. I am sure all of you are familiar with these fine and yummy table fare.

image

image

image

Among the numerous crustaceans found in our waters, crabs, shrimps and lobsters are top choices for native dishes cooked Bicol (our province) style. There are more than a hundred and one ways we cook these dishes. And boy, they are all mouth- watering delicacies found only in this part of the world.

The main ingredients that go with Bicol seafood dishes are coconut milk, sweet potato tops and spinach leaves, veggies of your choice, spices like onions, garlic and of course hot chili peppers.

The Bicol region is known for their spicy dishes, quite similar to Thai food I would say. Cooking is simple, quick and without too much frills. Just serve it hot and voila, you have a dish you will want every time.

Here is how I cook my favorite crab dish.

image

1) Using an ice pick, I pierce the center mass of a freshly caught crab to “dispatch” it ( please refer to my photo above).

2) Wash it well then boil the crab(s) in coconut milk mixed with crushed garlic and a bit of salt and wait until the crab turns red in color.

3) Add coconut cream, thinly sliced onions, salt and chili pepper with washed spinach leaves or any leafy veggies you like. Then cook over a fire or stove.

image

image

Another way I cook it is by:

1) Steaming the crab, lobster or shrimp.

2) Boil unripe and chopped jackfruit (papaya or any veggie fruit will do) in coconut milk with crushed garlic until cooked.

3) Then add the steamed crustacean, coconut cream with thinly sliced onions and peppers. Add salt to taste. Turn off the stove after a few minutes (Don’t forget lest you end up with a grilled or over-cooked dish! LOL).

Serve with steaming plain rice and cold drinks!

image

image

By the way, we have a unique and rare crustacean called “kupapa” or the Slipper Lobster here in Sorsogon. It looks like a regular lobster but it is clawless, clumsy and slow. In Israel they call it “the sea cricket”. It is normally cooked split and grilled with melted butter. Being an endangered specie, catching this lobster is prohibited in Israel and Italy. This big and fatter crustacean is known only to divers and adventurous gourmands. In other words, it is a super rare delicacy. And what’s more, its sweet meat is super duper delicious. I had the privelege of eating this lobster only once. And boy! this is one of a kind delicacy I will never forget. It is very expensive and sought after in foreign restaurants by gourmets. And you know what? I had mine for FREE! I hope I stirred up your gastronomic appetite guys! If you can find one, let’s drink to that!

Cheers!

[Originally published at bitLanders.com rated 5/5 Star]

By the Sea

image

Living by the sea can be very rewarding. Here in Sorsogon City, I learned a lot from the sea. You will never go hungry here if you know how.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

There are variety of seashells that provide nourishment. From the biggest abalone down to the smallest sea shell. You need a thorn taken from a nearby mangrove shrub to pick out the delicious meat from its shell.

Isdang Bato

image

image

image

image

Or, you can go fishing anytime for a good catch or two just enough for your tummy. If you are patient enough to haul in a ton of fish then that’s big money by the end of the day.

You will never go hungry if you love and take care of our sea.

 

image

Seafoods and Veggies

 

 

image

How would you like a newly caught grouper (lapu-lapu) done?

I am lucky this tasty fish are plentiful in the waters of Sorsogon City. It is an expensive dish in Manila restaurants. Moreso, in five star hotels. It is commonly steamed but you can also order it in fish stew called “sinigang” in the Philippines. Lapu-lapu when steamed or grilled is very meaty and palatable.

Do you know that in the deep sea waters fishermen here swear they grow as big as a Volkswagen beetle car? Wow! That I love to have on my plate!

image

 

Another popular and common fish found in the waters of Bicolandia is Yellow Fin. It is equally meaty, palatable and tasty especially when grilled.

Whenever we have guests we grill the yellow fins and spread out a large freshly cut banana leaves on the table. Then we fill up the leaves with hot rice. We have tomato, onions, chinese orange or golden lime and soy sauce with crushed small red super hot and spicy pepper.

Fresh coconut juice or soft-drinks are likewise served. Then we line up all the newly grilled and delicious fish in the middle of the banana leaves all for the taking.

image

 

image

image

Did we forget anything?

Nope! None of the forks and spoons stuff. We eat with our bare but cleanly washed hands Filipino Style. You’d eat to your heart’s content! And after that hefty lunch it’s time for us to head for the beach to enjoy swimming and collecting various species of multicolored and multi-shaped seashells that lay on the seashore for your picking. It’s for FREE!

image

image

When I was in Manila I used to cook buttered shrimps. Or, just steam crabs, dip in vinegar with onions, salt and crushed small red pepper (labuyo).

Or, cook crabs in coconut milk with Potato Vine or Swamp Cabbage (kangkong in Filipino, scientifically named Ipomea aquatica Torsk), salt, garlic, and onions.

image

When I was in Clark, Pampanga there was an eatery that serves buttered mixed seafoods and vegetables. I loved it! With so many ingredients (prawn, squid, crab meat, lobster, clams, young corn, carrot, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) I’d rather buy it than cook it. Taste so yummy!

image

image

image

Here at Sorsogon City we have plenty of crabs and seashells and you know what, it’s for free on a great catch. I love picking crabs by the sea!

Yes, you can pick as many live crabs as you want during low tide. I am quite an expert when it comes to crabs! Just come over and I’ll be glad to show you how to pick live crabs by the sea floor and most especially how to cook it in various dishes, Bicol Style!

 

Sorry to my Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) friends!

image