Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ode to the Sea... Creature

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…

7 comments:

coco said...

Oh my! These remind me of a time I bought myself lobsters to cook a meal. After all the cleaning and cooking, I did not feel like eating them. I haven't had them since. I know it's crazy, but I feel something are better had at restaurants... ;)

I'm just wondering why did you use soda to cook these?

Zen Chef said...

I ate some in Hong Kong!
They were delicious but they look a bit creepy to the western eye. No head, two tails? i guess i didn't look close enough. haha.

Neruda by the sea? Nice. :-)

Sidney said...

Poor little animals... but so yummy (that is their error!) !

foodhuntress79 said...

Hello Coco :) Soda just compliments the sea taste of the creatures. Oh, I forgot to put there a drizzle of salt :)

Zen, snakes are creepier! Neruda sonnets before bedtime is nicer...

Sidney, that is why I had to recite an ode... to compensate for my cruelty :)

Anali said...

I'm all about the food, but the sea gets me everytime. I love these pictures!

foodhuntress79 said...

Thank you Anali. :) I can see that you like landscapes too, and yours are definitely great!

maybellesmom said...

Ahh, this is such an awesome post. I have only had these once in asia many years ago.