One of the greatest food writers in the Philippines was a lady by the name of Doreen Fernandez. When I was in the Philippines I took for granted her contributions to our cuisine and so I rarely paid any attention to her works which was a pity since I have been crazy looking for some of her books which are almost impossible to find. Last month in Melbourne I went to a store called Books For Cooks where tucked in a corner was one of Doreen’s books. I couldn’t believe my luck! The book is called Palayok (a type of native cooking pot) and while not a recipe book, is filled with valuable information on what and how our cuisine has come to where it is today. The chapter I’m reading now for instance, is on the Spanish influences on food.
This influence is of course inevitable considering we were a colony from 1521 to 1898 (I tell everyone we were colonized for around 300 years, but now I realize it’s 377!). The first Spanish settlers were officials and their families then later on, friars. Ingredients in the Spanish kitchen often make an appearance in our food like chorizo (sausages) and jamon (ham). Another example, is in our cooking methods. To saute in the Philippines is called “gisa” from the Spanish word guisar.
Another cooking process commonly used in the Philippines, is called relleno which means to stuff. With some types of relleno, the Spanish influence is much clearer, for example, rellenong manok (stuffed chicken) will typically be stuffed with pork, chorizo and ham. Other relleno has been adapted to the produce more easily available in the Philippines, for example, rellenong bangus or stuffed milkfish (milkfish is very accessible in the Philippines).
Which brings me to this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Challenge which was to make Relleno – which makes it’s appearance more during the Christmas season. I chose to make Rellenong Alimasag which is a stuffed crab, Philippine style. Meat is removed from the crabs and mixed with some vegetables and refilled on the top shell and then fried. This is one of the most festive dishes that I could think of that really celebrates the fresh seafood we have in the Philippines. The dish itself is not difficult to make, but it is quite time consuming to remove all that meat from the crab – if you are lucky enough to afford good quality shelled crab meat, it makes life easier. Sometimes I add diced prawns if I’ve “accidentally” eaten some crab meat filling in the process of picking out the crab meat!
Rellenong Alimasag (Philippine Style Stuffed Crab)
- 4 live blue swimmer crabs
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 small waxy potato, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Place the crabs in the freezer for 30 minutes to send them to sleep, then drop then in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and allow to cool. Pick out the meat from the crabs and place them in a bowl. Reserve the top shells and give them a good rinse and set aside.
- Heat 50 ml of the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion for around 5 minutes until translucent. Add the diced carrot and potato along with the garlic cloves and cook until the vegetables are soft, around 10 minutes over a low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the vegetables in a bowl with the reserved crab meat and mix in the lightly beaten egg. Allow to cool slightly and then divide the crab mixture among the four shells.
- Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large pan and carefully place the crab shells (crab mixture facing the pan) on the heat and cook for around 5 minutes over a medium heat until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with ketchup (banana is my preference) and mayonnaise on the side.
Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.
Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.
If you’re interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please feel free to drop by our foodblogs and leave a comment – we would love to hear from you!
Asha – http://forkspoonnknife.blogspot.com/
Anna - http://www.anniesfoodjournal.blogspot.com/
Dahlia – http://www.energychef.blogspot.com/
Joy – http://joyjoycreativeoutlet.blogspot.com/
Maribel – http://www.foodgeek.webs.com/
Jen - http://www.jen-at-work.blogspot.com/
Pia – http://bisayajudkaayo.blogspot.com/
Mimi – http://lapinchecocinera.blogspot.com
Erika – http://ivoryhut.com/
Kat – http://www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk/default.aspx
Oggi – http://www.whydiss.blogspot.com/
Katrina - http://lardonmyfrench.blogspot.com/
Rochelle - http://www.whydiss.blogspot.com/