Gim and I had a spectacular lunch today. Curacha cooked in coconut milk and Alavar sauce. Divine!
Curacha is a type of crab commonly found in the waters of Zamboanga. As such it’s available in the city markets round the clock. I would love to eat it as regularly as I eat lechon (roasted pork, goes very well with a Sunday) but unfortunately my cook is a bit allergic to crustaceans. He gets hives all over, and hyperacidic, when he eats too much crab or shrimp. So I have to wait several weeks in between curacha fests.
Today happened to be my lucky day. I slept in the whole morning and when I woke up, Chef Gim had already gone to the market, bought three large curachas and whipped up my favorite Guinataang Curacha in Alavar sauce! Yummy! So good it deserves to be on the menu of a five-star New York City hotel.
Alavar is a famous seafood restaurant in Zamboanga City, and they sell Alavar sauce, which is a secret concoction of aligue and spices. Whatever they put it in it, it’s sinfully delicious and makes every seafood dish doubly tasty.
In Chavacano, Curacha means “cockroach”, but the similarity between the two creatures ends in their furry-looking legs. Curacha is a wonderfully tasty crustacean. It is meatier and much cleaner than the mud crab, though ironically with a slightly earthier taste, and it’s meat a little less smooth but just as juicy. However the difference in taste is very subtle and I am sure most people would not be able to differentiate the two without checking their shells. I’m not yet sure which I favor more, the mud crab or the curacha, so I prefer to have them both in one dish!
Jump inside to see more photos of today’s lunch, and Chef Gim’s simple Guinataang Curacha in Alavar Sauce recipe below.
How to Make Guinataang Curacha (or Crab) in Alavar Sauce
1 kilo curacha or crab
1/2 kilo grated coconut
1/2 kilo Alavar sauce
1 bulb of garlic
1/2 thumb of ginger
4 pinches of salt
4 pinches of monosodium glutamate (Ajinomoto)
1 1/2 cup of water
Wash curacha or crab. Place in cooking pot. Set aside.
Place grated coconut in a mixing bowl. Pour water and mix. With your hands, squeeze all milk from the coconut. Set aside.
Mince garlic and ginger into tiny pieces. Set aside.
Sprinkle the salt, Ajinomoto, garlic and ginger all over the curacha or crab.
Pour coconut milk all over the curacha or crab.
Turn stove on high heat until the coconut milk comes to a boil. Then drop the alavar sauce into the pot and lower the knob to medium heat. When the coconut oil starts to surface (happens after around 20-30 minutes), turn off the stove.
P.S. If you don’t have Alavar sauce, go right ahead and do the recipe without it. It will just be Guinataang Curacha, then.