Alimango vs. Alimasag, what's the difference?
Alimango are mud crabs, with rounder body, thicker and rounder claws, meatier and easier to pick the meat than the alimasag, or blue crabs -- which has thinner claws, just like pictured here.
Crabs are usually bought alive to ensure that they are fresh - thus making it a struggle to clean and cook.
Ever had a crab with a side of grit and stone? or overcooked crabs that the flesh is dry and tasteless?
...or where the shell is hollow and all the crab fat is gone?
What we call crab fat or taba ng alimango is sometimes called crab roe, crab butter, crab muster or crab mustard (said to refer to its color when cooked).
Let's start with how to clean the crabs to remove the grits and sand.
You will need a deep container or bucket, a set of tongs and a heavy lid.
It is better to do this under running water.
1 Fill the bucket with water and dump all the live crabs. Have the lid handy to close in on crabs that are trying to get out of the container. Let this sit for about 10 minutes.
2 Holding the lid in place, dump all the water from the container and fill a second time. If the water is still murky, repeat step 1, otherwise, set aside for 5 minutes.
3 To transfer the crabs on a cooking pot without much resistance from them, the most 'humane' thing to do is to put ice on the water to make them sleep. Put enough ice on the bucket to make the water ice cold.
4 Fill your pot with just a quarter full water and bring to a boil.
5 Transfer the crabs onto the pot, bring back to a boil and turn the heat down to simmer.
6 Cook for 20 to 25 minutes for a dozen piece crab, or about 10 to 15 minutes for less than a dozen. DO NOT PUT ANY SALT.
7 Take the alimasag out of the pot, serve hot with rice, along with a side of lemon/fish sauce or vinegar dip.
Just a side note ---
One time, we bought 2 dozen crabs from a shack along a road down south NJ and the lady asked us if we want them cooked, saying that they would even remove all the taba for us for only $3. Imagine our shock... we have to pay for them to remove the best part of the crab? We took the live alimasag and ran...
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