Alimasag have spots and are generally smaller; alimango have a solid orange color and are bigger. There are many other varieties of crabs but these are the most common edible crabs in the Philippines. Talangka, treasured for its fat, are small crabs. Taba ng talangka, their fat, are bottled and sold as a local delicacy.
I don’t eat crabs–I am allergic to all kinds of crustaceans–but my husband and kids love them. We were in the Taytay market early thing morning and I thought I’d surprise them with a kilo of alimasag. We’re kind of craving for seafood these days since we haven’t eaten much seafood after the succession of typhoons sent the prices soaring. Prices were reasonable today and I thought I’d stock up the freezer with a variety of fish. I bought bangus (milkfish), hito (catfish), labahita and talakitok in addition to the crabs.
There were five crabs that, together, weighed a little over a kilo. My husband and kids finished four of them over lunch today. We had fried hito too since I wouldn’t be able to touch the crabs. We finished two pieces of hito, about 3/4 kilo, as well. Nobody asked for a mid-afternoon snack. We were that full.
There are two easy–and popular–ways of cooking crabs in the Philippines. We either steam them or cook them with a little oil.
To steam the crabs, mix about 1 tablespoonful of rock salt in 1-1/2 cups of water. Place the crabs in a wide skillet or work then pour the water over them. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat let the steam finish cooking the crabs. They should be fully cooked in about 6-7 minutes. Add 1-2 minutes for larger crabs.
Alternatively, heat 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet or wok. When smoking, add the whole crabs and sprinkle with a tablespoonful of rock salt. Cook over high heat for about 7-8 minutes, tossing the crabs often.
Serve the crabs with a dunking sauce made with vinegar, soy sauce, chopped garlic and onions, chili and sugar.
Note : The crabs in the photo were steamed.