This is the main reason why I wanted to drive all the way to Real. I wanted to have a beach front barbecue for several days aside from shopping for all the wonderful seafood in the nearby fish market. So after a short trip to the talipapa (small market in English) we began our beach front BBQ for two.
I made sure that I took a lot of provisions with me instead of relying on the talipapa’s stuff…so in my picnic bag I had a good quality thai fish sauce, Kikkoman, white pepper, some vinegar from coconut sap, rock salt and even a can of herbed finishing salts I got from my last trip to Australia. We also brought our own mini griller, coolers, trashbag, charcoal and charcoal starter, food covers, matches, anti-mosquito incense and dishwashing soap (sorry guys, I like to make sure that everything goes well especially when you’re far from home).
We decided to get whatever looked interesting and whatever looked fresh and different. We built the night’s menu over the good things we would miss at home. We took the following items from the seafood market: fish, squid, large prawns, shellfish, ice, bird’s eye chili, ginger, green mangoes, red onions, tomatoes and calamansi..our common mini-limes. Tonight’s menu? Clam soup, Mango and Tomato Salad, Grilled Squid, Grilled Ulang (or large prawns) and Stuffed, Grilled Fishies. With Mig as the grill man, we popped open some beers and began the cookout.
Mango Salad or Ensaladang Mangga. What kind of Filipino cookout would this be without this famous salad made with whatever salty condiments you have! This version was made out of calamansi juice, salt and fish sauce with chopped tomatoes, red onions and green mangoes.
Clam soup. I bought these tiny ridged clams for the soup and I just put some water, sliced ginger and the clams and let it boil in a pot over the coals. I kept the clams in clean water and washed them twice just to get whatever dirt I can out. The clams were very sweet and came out wonderfully. We didn’t even have to put that much salt since the clams had natural salt and a good, fresh seafood flavor you can only get from something that was still alive when you put it in the pot.
And what kind of beach bbq would it be without some major fish descaling and gutting? I had to do this on my own, and I stuffed the fish with my pre-prepared mango salad. I had 2 fishes, I can’t even rememeber their names, but I liked the bigger one we bought since it was a good, fatty fish for grilling. I rubbed the fish with some rock salt prior to grilling just to make sure the salt seeps into the flesh, then, I squeezed some calamansi on it when I transferred it to the plate.
The grilled squid was lovely and tender. We just washed it and then sprinkled a bit of salt on it and grilled it. Cooked properly, the squid was so tender and juicy. It tasted of the sea and had the right amount of salting. You can never get the same texture once you’ve frozen a squid. This was definitely a fresh experience.
The highlight of the dinner was probably the ulang (large prawns). They even had their claws on! I was hoping that we had some butter but we didn’t so again, we just had the salt and calamansi to work with. But the most delightful part was eating the very fatty head! Even if I am usually a bit allergic to shrimp, I still ate this and it tasted like seafood essence with a ton of butter and cream. The flesh was crunchy in a way that when you bit into it, the flesh would have a burst of juice aside from biting into the muscle fibers of the prawn.
Over our early dinner, we watched the sun go down as we were grilling the last remaining seafood from the market. This was a really good way to have our seafood and nature fix at the same time.