Aligue is what we call crab fat in the Philippines, although it is not really fat but the crab's hepatopancreas, a main component of the crab's digestive system the equivalent of lobster's tomalley. It is the soft yellow-orange or sometimes greenish substance you see in the body cavity of crabs. It is considered a delicacy but should be eaten in moderation because it is high in cholesterol.
I remember when we were kids, my Mama would buy fresh 'talangka' (shore crabs), these are small crabs with bodies just about 2 inches wide and do not grow big like the other crabs. They don't have so much meat in them but lots of aligue. She would blanch them with boiling water and they are ready to be eaten. We would squeeze out the aligue and mix that to steaming-hot rice and squeeze some kalamansi (our local lemon) and add a dash of salt. Yummy!
Nowadays, you do not have to do all the hard work yourself as crab paste are now being sold bottled or even canned. The last time I was in an Asian shop here in Germany, I was so surprised and really happy when I found canned crab paste while I was scanning their counters. They came from Thailand like most of the goods sold there because it is owned by a Thai family but they also have some Filipino stuff, which of course I am extremely grateful about. The one they have though is not the pure crab fat and is spiced already which still turned out fine, I only needed to use more than I normally would if I am using pure crab paste or aligue.
It was the first time for Armin to eat Pasta Aligue so I was waiting for his reaction when he first tried it, the thing is, he usually does not like fishy food or seafood, and the last time we were in the Philippines he was a bit turned off at the sight of talangka, they look like big spiders, he said. Poor guy was looking almost green! Haha! But the Pasta Aligue was a hit!
- 8 oz spaghetti noodle (or any pasta) - cooked according to package instructions
- ½ pound shrimps (or mixed seafoods) - shelled and deveined
- ½ cup aligue/crab fat - adjust as desired
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 medium onion - chopped
- 2 tablespoons kalamansi juice or lemon juice
- ½ cup all-purpose cream or heavy cream
- salt and pepper - to taste
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan (or hard cheese)
- In a saucepan, heat oil in medium high then stir in the shrimps until cooked. Remove shrimps but leave the oil.
- In the same pan, saute garlic and onion just until tender. Add the aligue (crab paste) and cream and stir to combine. Let it simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add the lemon or kalamansi juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss in the precooked pasta and mix well. Transfer to your serving dish. Top with shrimps and sprinkle with grated parmesan or hard cheese before serving.