Friday, November 25, 2005

Linguini with Aligue (Crab Fat) Sauce

I served this during a party at home.

I usually shy away from pastas served with aligue or crab fat sauce in restaurants, for health reasons as well as suspecting the sauce won't really have real crab fat. I always hear my mommy warning me never to buy bottled crab fat because they are bound to make you sick. Kape, or talangka, the small, local mud crabs, have to be alive when cooked, or you'll get vomitting spells and severe loose bowels. So we were limited to homecooked kape. And it is never served at night, mainly because of the inconvenience of calling on a doctor in the wee hours of the morning.

I made an exception when pasta with aligue sauce was served during a friend's birthday party. I happened to know the cook very well, and there were so many guests that I took comfort in the fact that I would have company in the hospital, if ever.

That was more than two months ago, and nothing untoward has happened to me, so I asked the cook where she got the aligue. She recommended two brands which turned out to be well-known, already with a reputation, so I sampled them and prepared to serve pasta with aligue for a party for the hubby.

I found Navarro's taba ng talangka at the Central Luzon Trade Fair, and it was great that they had free samples, because their product came in three kinds - 50%, 80%, and 100% (premium), pertaining to the crab fat content. The first two contained bread crumbs as extenders, both tasted fine, but the vendor recommended the 50% as the best one to use for pasta sauces. However, I got taken by the taste of the premium, which I bought, along with the 80%, and mixed them.

I also sampled Razon's of Guagua, Pampanga. This brand carries only one kind, though, reportedly 100% aligue. I liked the texture, which looked more 100% than Navarro's premium. It tasted better, too. This is what I sent to my BBM3 recipient, to flavor pancit palabok, a Filipino dish which she professed to love.

Navarro's and Razon's aligue are soured by calamansi and vinegar, respectively, to extend shelf life. The sourness is just right to counter the richness of the crab fat. Navarro's is more sour, though, because calamansi is really tart. This removes the necessity of squeezing calamansi or lemon wedges on cooked pasta and pancit palabok.

Aligue Sauce
500 mL aligue or mud crab fat
3 tbsp basil and parsley pesto
500 mL tomato sauce
125 mL evaporated or fresh milk
1 clove garlic, minced finely
1 medium onion, minced finely
2 tbsp olive oil
finely ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Sautè garlic in hot oil. When the garlic stops to sizzle but has not yet turned golden brown, stir in the onion until transparent. Pour in the aligue and cook for two minutes. Pour the milk and the tomato sauce, stir, then cover for five minutes. Turn off the heat, stir and mix in the pesto and salt and pepper. Add sugar if desired.

Top on previously cooked and drained linguini or spaghetti, and sprinkle ground parmesan cheese.

Good for 1.5 kilos of pasta.

The pesto is a homemade mix of half basil and half parsley processed with a clove of garlic and olive oil.

To do away with the tired garlic buttered baguette toasts that always accompany pasta dishes, I served quesadillas with honey garlic mayo dip.

Another use for aligue: Palabok with Aligue Sauce

  • Razon's
    - Jupiter Street, beside Super Bowl of China/Starbucks
    - Fiesta Market!Market! open air food court, beside Trinity
  • Navarro's

  • - Region III kiosk, Fiesta Market!Market! open air food court, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
    - Tiendecitas, Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas
    - Greenhills


    Anonymous said...

    oooh! i'll do this! i still have some crab paste left from my mom last time she came for a visit! and i love pesto might as well hit two birds in one prep right?

    Anonymous said...

    I think you can also attribute the difference in taste to the style of cooking. Razon's is from Guagua (eastern) while Navarro's is from Masantol (southwest).

    The easterners (that's us, hehehe) prefer less spices that tend to highlight the natural flavour of the main ingredient (more garlic, no tomatoes) while the southwesterners tend to go heavy on spices.

    Anonymous said...


    Can't wait to have my own place and do my own cooking for friends, with the help of friends who know what good food is of course.

    Anonymous said...

    hi kai!

    I love pasta! Your recipe gives this italian dish a definitely unique local twist, a welcome respite from ubiquitous sweet tomato sauce that pinoys love. Is crab paste available in any supermarkets around Makati?

    Btw, you may want to try a vegetarian spread for bread or quesadillas to offset indulgence in crab paste, hehe! Mince a sprig of parsley and a clove of garlic. Mix with a cup of mashed potato. Add salt to taste. I just don't know if the taste will go well with your pasta. Hmmm... let's experiment.

    Kai said...

    So sorry, I forgot to include in the write-up where the crab fat I used could be found. I updated the post for reference.

    Yup Ces, great combination, too!

    Karen, thanks for the info. You're such a mine of information.

    Vi, will be glad to cook for you, too. Thanks for the invite to your party, and for the inspiration, extended to the cook herself!

    YO, sent you a personal email. Thanks for the vegetarian quesadilla tip, you know my weaknesses, hehe. Will be sending some samples up to you sometime soon, I seem to have snagged a catering activity!

    Anonymous said...

    i've tried this one, using cream instead of evaporated milk...and angel hair pasta instead of linguine...

    also, i want to correct karen, guagua lies on the western part of pampanga, and masantol on the southern part...and yes, there is a variance in the way we cook...

    Kai said...

    Ah, yes, Kong Wi, I'm sure cream would greatly enhance the sauce, as would full cream milk, but I had a headache just thinking about the fat overload, haha, so I used the reconstituted kind of milk, which, rumor says, actually comes from coconuts.

    I use angel hair pasta whenever I could, even in soups. I used linguini this time to increase the carbohydrate content, in anticipation of the richness of the sauce.

    Celyn said...

    I've been looking for this recipe. I was able to try one when I was in the Philippines at my friend's family restaurant. It was a bit spicy though but I loved it. I stumbled upon an aligue in a bottle at the Filipino store near us and I bought. I don't know what percent it is but that's the closest you can get from where I'm at. Too bad we can't order on-line for Razon's or Navarro's. Or can you? Does anyone know a website where I can order that? Anyways, I'm going to try the recipe for lunch...hehehe! Thanks again!

    Kai said...

    Sorry Celyn, all comments are supposed to go to my email inbox as well, but it hasn't been working for a long time now in my account, so I can't keep track properly of any new comment in my previous posts. So the reason for this very late reply.

    Anyway, since a few people have been looking for bottled aligue, I've contacted Navarro's but they don't ship outside the Philippines. Your best bet would be for relatives to buy and ship for you - I've shipped it and encountered no problem with customs. Or you can email me directly and I'll be glad to send a few bottles for you.

    Anonymous said...

    you should try the new taba ng talangka in the market. its better than the other brands now. it's called NENA'S crab paste, available at greenhills, market market, quick gourmet store at tomas morato infront of ratsky, the famous SALCEDO MARKET every saturday and LUNG CENTER MARKET every sunday. I assure you this is the best TABA NG TALANGKA in the market! if you want you can text my friend at 09266439021 or call 7107597, email at!