Recipe #15: SINABAWANG TAHONG (Mussel Soup)

When I was working in the provinces, I was surprised that not a lot of people in the Visayas and Mindanao eat tahong or mussels. Although there are fishing villages where they cultivate tahong for commercial comsumptions, some people think that tahong is dirty because they thrive in murky, muddy waters.

Another reason is probably because of the abundance of other seafoods in the provinces that’s why the humble tahong is not getting its due respect. For instance, most people would prefer talaba (oyster) over tahong.

But oysters in Manila is very expensive especially if you order it out from a fancy restaurant. I remember ordering talaba in Iloilo — a small basin full of oysters only cost 35 pesos. Super cheap, di ba?

Anyway, here’s a popular tahong dish that my family always prepares when we crave for seafood. Some call it Tinolang Tahong or Sabaw ng Tahong. There’s a term my Lola used to call this dish before, but I coudn’t remember it.

There are two version of this: one is ginisa (sauted in garlic and onion) and the other one is nilaga (stew). What I have below is ginisa because it’s more flavorful. I’ll just call this dish Sinabawang Tahong for the mean time until I remember the name. Enjoy!

Sinabawang Tahong Recipe

You will need:

  • 1 tspn cooking oil
  • 1 tspn butter (optional)
  • 1 tspn garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 1 kilo tahong (mussels), shells cleansed
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tspn fish sauce (patis)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vinegar

To prepare:

  1. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, saute garlic, onion, and ginger in oil and butter. When the onion becomes transluscent, add the tahong. Stir occasionally for about two minutes.
  2. Add water, patis, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Simmer until the tahong shells are open. Discard the shells that did not open. Pro tip: do not overcook the tahong! The flesh will shrink if cooked for too long.
  3. Taste the soup. Add salt, if needed.
  4. Serve with steamed rice. Eat with your hands! Preferred condiment is a mixture of white vinegar and patis.


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