Ok, folks, brace yourself for the avalanche of delicious things that is about to hit Kawaling Pinoy pages! Let me tell you, that Philippine vacay was all about food, food and more food! Kilayin, sapin sapin, kapit, kalderatang kambing, kalamay gabi, pinapaitan, tibok tibok, BBQ chicken asses (yes, chicken asses!) and this ginataang seafood were just some of the things I enjoyed and learned how to make during my trip. I am super excited to share all the awesome recipes here in the days ahead.
Ginataang seafood is one of mom’s signature dishes but although it was a regular on many of our special gatherings over the years, last week was the first time I actually watched my mother prepare it. I have to say, her cooking method for this seafood dish goes against my own cooking practice. Kitchen wisdom tells us never to boil coconut milk (or any fluid milk for that matter) as it will curdle. As I recommend in my chicken curry recipe, coconut milk should be thickened on a low, gentle simmer to ensure a smooth and creamy sauce. In this ginataang recipe, my mother cooks the coconut cream on a rolling boil until it has significantly reduced. I love this woman dearly, you guys, and I trust her explicitly. When she says, BOIL, boil we shall. Like I’ve said before, she knows what’s up and proved herself right once again. The coconut cream curdled to such a delicious creamy mess and sinfully clung on each and every succulent piece of mussel, shrimp, crab and squid, I couldn’t stop at one cup of rice!
- 2 pounds squid
- 1 pound crab (about 4 to 5 pieces)
- 2 pounds mussels
- ½ pound shrimp
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
- 6 cups coconut cream (kakang gata)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Holding the squid firmly, pull the head from the body including internal parts and tentacles. Pull out the clear cartilage inside the tube and discard. With a knife, cut the head and the ink sack from the tentacles. Set aside the tentacles. Peel the spotted outer membrane from the squid and discard. Under cold running water, wash the tentacles and the tubes inside and outside to remove any remaining tissue or debris. Drain well. Depending on size, cut squid into halves.
- Under cold running water, wash crabs well. Scrub shells with a kitchen brush to rid of dirt and grime. Rinse and drain well.
- Pick through the mussels and discard "dead ones". The shells of mussels should be closed tightly. Gently tap opened mussels on the kitchen counter. They should close up immediately, if they don't, discard. In a large bowl of water, soak mussels for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse under cold running water to remove any dirt or grime on outer shells. Hold the beard (the brown thread sticking out between the shells) and pull it out towards the hinge end of the mussel. Rinse and drain well.
- With scissors or knife, trim tendrils from shrimps. Rinse and drain well.
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook until limp and aromatic. Add shrimp paste and cook, stirring regularly, until lightly browned.
- Add coconut cream and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until reduced and begins to curdle.
- Add crab and cook until color changes. Add mussels and cook until shells open. Add shrimps and squid and cook until color changes to pink. Continue to cook until sauce has thickened and reduced, clinging onto seafood. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.