Here surrounding the island,
There's sea. But what sea?
It's always overflowing….
(I'm getting that dreamy nostalgic look again) Neruda- reading is an intimate rite to me and my… ssshhh.
- ok, where was I?
Yes, I definitely see myself one of Neruda’s fishermen (though I should admit that they are nobler), yet still I identify with being hungry and cold from the shore. But this time the sea is not my foe for it opened up its coffers and placed gifts of delicious creatures in my hands… or rather, in the hands of the happy fishmonger from whom I bought these…
These are not shrimp, comrades, but a different specie of the alupihang dagat, or the sea mantis caught fresh out of the still Philippine waters. Not as succulent nor as fleshy as the shrimp or lobster, but the essence is just the same- white flesh, the familiar crustacean smell, taste , though with higher moisture content and therefore more perishable. In a country where anything savory (pork cracklings, potato chips, instant noodles, etc) is eaten with rice, so are these creatures cooked in many savory and spicy ways: with young fern and coconut cream, with egg noodles, etc. Yet again, as I would have crabs my way, I want delightful sea creatures all natural- the taste of the sea, the natural juices…
Sea mantis cooking 101. Best purchased alive and wiggling their little legs. If you’re not about to cook them yet, just keep them alive in a basin of water. Relax, they won’t claw and creep away under your sofa. Then because of its high perishability, expect immediate shift of smell after a few hours after they died. So… best purchased alive. Period.
In a pot, place about 500 grams sea mantis. Pour 1 bottle soda (Sprite, 7- UP), about 250 ml. Cook for about 15 minutes or until done. The creatures will change in color. See above.
Best eaten with bare hands, with rice, soy sauce, hot sauce… or any sauce you please. But when I ate them that afternoon, I was also drinking hot coffee… and I don’t know why the combination feels so right.
Cooked alive, at least they died with the recitation of an ode…