Say "fried rice" and the image that comes to mind is Chinese-style fried rice with small pieces of meat, chopped vegetables, and eggs. In the Philippines, fried rice tends to be simpler. The most popular version, called garlic fried rice, is cooked by sauteing minced garlic until golden then adding the day-old rice and salt. Everything is stir-fried until the rice grains are glistening with the garlic-infused oil. For a richer garlic fried rice, crab paste can be added. The crab paste used to cook this fried rice dish comes from talangka.
Talangka are small crabs. The English terms for these crabs include river crabs and shore crabs. Talangka do not have any substantial meat. They are prized for their fat and roe which are really the only edible part of the animal. While some may remember having to pry the shells open only to get less than a half a teaspoon of bright orange paste from each crab, talangka fat now comes in jars sold commercially as crab paste. Just spoon it and enjoy.
The easiest way to enjoy crab paste is to mix it with hot newly-cooked rice. But if you have day-old rice, a few extra steps will yield an even tastier and more aromatic rice dish. Mixing crab paste with aromatics and a little citrus juice like in this recipe gives it added depth of flavor and aroma.
- 2 cups white rice (cooked)
- 1 tsp. garlic (minced)
- 1/4 tsp. ginger (grated)
- 1 tbsp. shallot (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. crab paste
- splash kalamansi juice (or lemon or lime juice)
- Optional: salt, to taste
- Optional: chopped scallion
- Optional: chopped parsley
- Saute garlic, ginger, and shallots in the vegetable oil for about 3 minutes.
- Add the crab paste and the kalamansi juice.
- Taste and add salt, as needed.
- Mix in cooked rice and stir-fry just until heated through.
- Serve hot and enjoy.
You may optionally top the fried rice with chopped greens (scallion or parsley work well), fried shallots, and toasted garlic bits.
Crab Paste Nutrition
Now comes the nutritional caveat and the reason why talangka is not as popular with younger, more health-conscious generation.Talangka fat is notoriously high in cholesterol.
Take note, however, that while health and medical literature has drummed into our brains that cholesterol is the culprit behind high blood pressure and risk of heart disease, this thinking is now subject to debate.