Thursday, April 9, 2015

YummY! - Coconut Crabs @ Hiro's-Batanes

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           Jotaro's Food Review          
Basco, Batanes - March 2015
An upside down coconut crab wrapped in banana leaves.
I had never tried coconut crabs before or even seen one in real life. In fact, many have not even heard about them. So what are they?

Coconut crabs are fearsome looking creatures; they look something coming out from the Aliens movies or like one of the monsters from the Ultraman TV series.
They are a species of land-based hermit crabs with large claws and thick legs (their legs are the size of a crab's claws). They have a head that looks like prawn's and round bodies.
And, yes, they do climb coconut trees to get at those coconuts and eat them.

Coconut crabs are the largest crabs and can grow up to one metre in length form leg to leg and up to 4.1kg in weight. They are land-based and oddly will drown if thrown into the sea or water.

Besides coconuts, the coconut crabs eat other fruits and at times will eat carion.
In the Batanes islands, are cacti looking Thatch Screw Pines (Pandanus Tectorius) the sweet fruits of which also forms part of the crab's diet there.

We had coconut crabs while on a cycling adventure in the Batanes, Philippines. We did not specifically look out for coconut crabs there, in fact we did not know that the crabs were fairly easily available here. We were having some authentic Ivatan fare (... see Philippines Ivatan Food @ Batanes blog) see at Hiro's Cuisine when we noticed that they sell coconut crabs; at 1000PHP for one that's slightly more than a kilogramme, it was not cheap. But then we asked ourselves, "Why not?" After all we had not tried coconut crabs before and they are not easy to come by these days. So, "Why not?"

The crab came served on a large banana leave, the green contrasting the red very well and made the crab looked even better. Thank goodness they had already pre-crushed the crab after cooking. According to Lydia, the best way to cook the crabs is just to simply boil it.
The crabs were huge, their legs alone were as thick as a normal crabs claws. And this is just a regular sized one.

Another view of the crab. Clock-wise from bottom left is the stomach (the best part, we will come to that later), the claws, the body and then the head.

Okay enough viewing of the crab, time to dig in.
I started with the legs, saving the best for last. The coconut crab legs are not like a normal crab's, as mentioned earlier each is as large as a normal crab's claw and full of meat. The leg meat is soft and fresh, tasty like a normal crab's. I then work my way to the main body.... and then work my way to the claws.

Each claw is huge, more than a foot long and more than five inches around at the thickest part. Although the shells were super thick (on account that the claws have to crack up coconuts), inside it was full of meat.

And now for the last part, the best part - the STOMACH.
The stomach is oval-shaped about the size of a goose egg. It is protected by segmental shell.
Now the way to eat this is to slowly peel off the segmental shell, pull out the intestine at one end, and slowly cut open a small slit at the top so that the contents in side won't spill out.

Inside are the eggs, creamy like a yolk. It looked a bit yucky but with each mouth that I savoured, I just wanted more until it was all empty. It tasted like the soft eggs of a normal crab but much, much more creamier (probably from the diet of the crab - coconuts, Screwpine berries, etc.)
Trying out the crab was decades of curiosity realised. Now I can say I have eaten this rare delicacy before.

106, Abuyo Street, Kayvaluganan, Basco, Batanes, Philippines.
Tel (Smart): +63-0999 995 4211 / +63-0920 217 9031     (Globe): +63-0927 387 8172
Hours: Open everyday for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
GPS : 20.449344, 121.972562

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