When I was working in the provinces, I was surprised because not a lot of people in the Visayas and Mindanao eat tahong or mussels. Some of them think that tahong is dirty because they thrive in murky, muddy waters. I don’t know with some, although there are also fishing villages where they cultivate tahongs for commercial comsumptions.
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. Why would I eat tahong if there is talaba (Oyster)? But talaba in Manila is very expensive especially if you order it out from a classy restaurant. Very unreasonable. I remember ordering talaba in Iloilo — a small basin full of oysters only cost 35 pesos. Super cheap, di ba? But that’s another story.
Anyway, here’s a popular tahong dish my family always prepares. 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 were two version — 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!
- 1 tspn cooking oil
- 1 tspn butter (optional)
- 1 tspn garlic, minced
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and julienned (cut into strips)
- 1 kilo mussels (tahong), shells cleansed
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tspn fish sauce (patis)
- salt (optional) and pepper to taste
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 and pepper. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Simmer until the tahong shells have all opened (Do not overcook the tahong! The meat will shrink if cooked for too long.).
3. You may add more water if the soup has dried up. Taste the soup base, then add salt only 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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