Crab Feast Marked My 30th Year

Crab has been part of my birthdays ever since I got married in 2003. I could name only one birthday where Dex and I didn’t have crab, and that was when my birthday coincided with our company’s Christmas party. During the other birthdays, we’d be in Red Crab, Dampa (Seaside, Manila’s famous seafood market restaurant), or at my parents’ house with one of Dex’s crab specialties.

Last night as we were discussing where to celebrate my 30th birthday, I had completely forgotten about that pattern. I just really wanted to eat crab the next day. It’s only now, as I think about it, that I realize it has almost become a tradition.

Today we found ourselves at Healthy Shabu Shabu with good friend JD. I ordered the Meat with Crab set (Porkloin + a 500g crab)

What I love about the Crab Set in Healthy Shabu Shabu is that their crab is always consistently fresh and fat. Even the “gender” is consistent. This is called “Bayugin” in Bulacan (meaning: homosexual crab). I still doubt if “homosexual” is an accurate description, but I digress. The crab’s gender is important to a crab lover like me for reasons which I will explain later.

Take note that a small/thin crab does not necessarily mean it’s less tasty. In fact, most of the time, the opposite is true. In gauging whether a crab is fat or not, you should compare it with the other ones in the bunch - the one which is the heaviest for its size is usually the fattest/tastiest one.

Just look at that ridiculous amount of fat underneath the shell. “Bayugin” crabs have 2 kinds of fat - you guessed it - male and female. Best of both worlds. The pale yellow fat is the male fat, the bright orange one is the female fat. Male fat is much tastier, and if you’re a crab connoisseur like me, it’s more probable that you prefer it over the female fat. The female fat is the more popular choice, though, probably because it has less of that “sea” taste.

As if all that fat under the shell weren’t enough...

And these are my porkloin strips, with just the right amount of fat. (At this point, “Healthy” doesn’t seem appropriate anymore)

With the crab shabu shabu set, I usually let all the other ingredients simmer in the pot before adding the crab (‘cause the crab takes only a while to cook). Yam, corn, mushroom balls, squid balls, green leafy veggies, shitake mushrooms, tomato, tofu, as well as the egg noodles.

Here now is my sate sauce. It’s shabu shabu sauce seasoned with generous amounts of chopped garlic, spring onion, chili (siling labuyo in Tagalog - I always get Dex’s share too), and sate. I like to separate the egg yolk from the white and dunk it here. The white part goes to the soup.

Here, I’ve put the first two quarters of the crab into the soup while the shell is placed on top of the other ingredients, so that I could pick and eat some of the fat using my chopsticks.

After a few minutes - or ok, maybe nearly an hour - my soup looks like this. The pale yellow fat (a lot of it dissolved in the soup) makes the soup really tasty, while the texture of the orange fat really makes things interesting. Perfect bite: egg noodles with the fat plus the pork loin, dipped into the sate-egg sauce, followed with slurping the soup. Yum!

The aftermath.. almost. Messy just the way I like it. I’m ashamed to admit that I ate most of the fat. Hey, it’s my birthday!

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The Spaces in Between


Throughout the scoring phase of RPG Metanoia, I had bits of time scattered here and there to do other stuff (hence the title).  While waiting for directives or instructions for revisions, or hanging out at Starbucks with my arranger friends, somehow I managed to:

1. Write two new songs
2. Write 24 bars of big band for my next project
3. Log in 18-40kms of running per week.  Even joined a 21km race, which I wasn’t able to finish by the way, but that’s another story..

Sometimes, the spaces in between really matter much more than we think.

Incidentally, the song I wrote for the RPG Metanoia soundtrack album is of the same title.  You can download it (as well as the other tracks) here -

Watch the movie!  Screening starts Dec. 25, in theaters nationwide.

View full trailer

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