Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Featured Region: Region 2, Cagayan Valley

Featured Recipe: Guinataang Alimasag
(Crab in Coconut Milk)
by Chef Socrates Z. Inonog, ACF, CCE

This January, Isla Kulinarya takes you to the region of Cagayan Valley, a part of the country that not only takes pride in its historical treasures and unexplored locales, but also boasts of having picturesque deep caverns, wide arable lands, and the long, immense Cagayan river that is abundant of fresh water fish, crustaceans, and other seafoods.

The Cagayan Valley region, otherwise known as region II, is located at the northern tip of the Philippines and is composed of five provinces:  Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Batanes. Its capital  is Tuguegarao City and is located at the northeastern part of the of Luzon. Cagayan, not to be mistaken from the city in Mindanao named Cagayan de Oro, also includes the Babuyan Islands to the north.

Among its many features, Region II is also known to be the country's tilapia capital (species of cichlid fishes from the tilapine cichlid tribe), as well as the country's rice and corn granary because of its  fertile lands.

People say that although the Cagayan might lack commercial sources, its people, known as the Ibanag, Ybanag, Ybanak ,Ibanak or simply the Cagayanos, will be able to survive through tough times not only because of the region's abundant resources, but because of the flair of its people for making delicious delicacies.

Delicacies mostly served in the Cagayan region include rice cakes, Pinakbet, Pansit Cabagan, Tapang Baka, Ginisa Nga Agurong, Tuguegarao Longganisa, Pancit Batil Patung, and the Guinataang Alimasag (crabs in coconut milk) of Batanes.

Guinataan, alternatively spelled as ginataan, is a Filipino term which refers to food cooked with gata or coconut milk. Thus, coming up with the word ginataan, or "done with coconut milk."

Aside from being cooked in coconut milk as its name suggests, Guinataang Alimasag is very easy to make because the dish does not require much other ingredients other than the basic garlic, onions,  spinach leaves (for garnishing) and of course, the crabs and the coconut milk.

Ivatans (people of Batanes) and tourists alike enjoy having the Guinataang Alimasag mainly because the usual size of the crab plated here is the largest living arthropod in the world and is a type of hermit crab that is known to have large pincers strong enough to crack coconuts and eat its contents. These crabs from Batanes are not only known for its unusually large size, but are also known for its creamy crab meat which has the aftertaste of a coconut when its sac is squeezed.

Aside from its fine and distinct flavor, the Guinataang Alimasag has been a Filipino family favorite because of its health benefits. The Guinataang Alimasag is rich in iodine and other minerals that makes it a nutritious dish.

Guinataang Alimasag
(Crab in Coconut Milk)

 Prep time: 5-10 minutes
 Cook time: 25 minutes
Serving: 6

- 4lbs crabs
-8cups coconut milk
-1/8 cup cooking oil
-4 large cloves garlic, crushed
-3 tbs. ginger, julienned
-3 tbs white onions, minced
-3 pcs jalapeno pepper
-2 tbs rock salt
-  spinach leaves (optional)

1. Wash and clean crabs, discard carapace and claws then set aside
2. Saute garlic in oil until light brown
3. Add onions then crabs. Stir well until crabs change color.
4. Add coconut milk and jalapeno pepper.
5. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
6. Simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Season with salt.
8. Add malunggay/spinach and continue simmering for 1 minute.

To serve: Place crab on a platter then glaze over with gata and garnish with spinach. Serve with hot steamed rice.

Isla Kulinarya lets you explore the islands, taste the food, relive the memories--- all made possible by Island Pacific Supermarket. Go and visit an Island Pacific near you with branches in Southern California located at Cerritos, Canoga Park, North and South Vernon in Los Angeles, Panorama City and West Covina; Union City and Vallejo in Northern California. Check out our website at Stay connected with us--like us on Facebook (island pacific market), follow us on Twitter (islandpacificUS) and Blogger (island pacific market). Fro your comments, suggestions, and request for recipes that you want us to feature, please email "Presyong Isalnd Pacific."


  1. Oh my, thanks for this post. I would really try to prepare this one. My husband loves crab so much, especially in this kind of preparation, unfortunately I am not a good cook. Well, with these ingredients and procedure, I think I can do it this time. Many thanks!

    Cagayan de Oro

  2. Thanks for posting this recipe.It helps me a lot especially to my major subject that really need explanation not just recipe but also how to cook it and ingredients as well.