Monday, August 29, 2011

The Philippines Very Own Caviar: Taba ng Talangka

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The Kapangpangans (as what the people who hail from Pampanga are called) have always been known to be great cooks, and Pampanga is known to have the distinct title of being the ‘Culinary Center of the Philippines’.

One of the most sought after delicacies from Pampanga is taba ng talangka (shore crab or river crab roe/fat). Talangka is abundant in Pampanga because the city is bordered by a river. Taba ng talangka has been labeled as the caviar of Filipinos. It is made from the orange fat of hundreds of mini crabs that have been painstakingly shelled and the fats removed, gathered, and placed in a bottle. My grandmother used to tell me that one huge sack of talangka can make only make one small bottle of taba ng talangka. It’s rare to find pure taba ng talangka nowadays, most are mixed with starch and if you’re lucky, talangka meat.

I remember eating fresh talangka fat, it was always mixed with steamed white rice. My dad used to shell the little crabs for me and he later on taught me how to properly open them. My grandmother would eat them ‘buro’ (that’s pouring boiling water onto the still alive crablets), others would shell them still alive and put the crab fats on steaming hot rice. After removing the fat from the shell you can then split the legs in half, dip it in spicy vinegar and suck on the meat and leftover fats. It’s sinfully delicious.

Unfortunately after the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption which caused lahar flow, the Pampanga river had to be dredged and widened by 500 meters. This caused a drastic decline in talangka. It has become a rare catch in an area that used to be so rich with it. Most of the talangka now comes from the province of Bicol which is further away from Manila.

The best bottled taba ng talangka that I’ve tasted is from Navarro’s. I always get Navarro’s (Taba ng Talangka) Premium. The business is family owned and is from Pampanga. They have been producing taba ng talangka since the 1970’s. This is the only taba ng talangka that is closest in taste to the purest kind. Whenever I’m craving for taba ng talangka, I fry some chopped garlic in oil and add a tablespoon or two of Navarro’s (Taba ng Talangka) Premium and add a bit of kalamansi (local limes). I then mix it with my steamed white rice. It’s always a welcome treat that adds depth to any dish.

2 Response to The Philippines Very Own Caviar: Taba ng Talangka

December 13, 2011 at 4:45 PM

YUM! can you buy Navarro's products in Manila?

March 25, 2013 at 4:57 PM

I am a huge fan of Taba ng Talanga, i love having it with grilled porkchop. You should try Claude 9 Taba ng Talangka. It's so much better....

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