The Poor Man’s Lobster “Samba (Mantis Shrimp)”
How do you decide what to have for lunch? Do you have a weekly planned menu or you just decide on the spot what to have? As for me and my wife we always talk about first what to have before heading out for the market. Well, today we already had something on mind. A crustacean that is armored, with a deadly weapon and with a taste that is similar to a lobster. Come join me today we go to the market. Let me share with you a delicious and a meal that is so easy to prepare.
Samba (Mantis Shrimp)
Here we are again at our local market that is filled with fresh seafood every day. One of the most popular seafood here is the Samba and no, it is not the Brazilian music that you have in mind. It is called differently in different areas in our country. With names like Tatampal, Hipong dagat (Sea Shrimp) and Alupihang dagat (Sea Centipede). It has been called Samba here in our region. I tried to research the history behind the name, but even my aunts could not explain why it was called Samba. In other parts of the world it is popularly called Mantis shrimp.
I could say that it is always available at our market. Every time we go here there is always someone selling the Samba. The price also differs whenever the catch is abundant. You would immediately notice piles being sold by crab and shrimp vendors. That is a very good indication that you could haggle for a very cheap price.
Along the way you could already see a few of the Samba being sold. Sometimes there are lobsters, but they are quite expensive. A small lobster would cost you around 300 to 400 pesos which is almost $6-$8 dollars a piece. Here 300 pesos for a lobster for one person is too much. That amount could already feed three to four heads if you are going to buy the Samba. A bit similar taste with the lobster at a very cheap price, that’s why it is sometimes referred to as the Poor man’s lobster.
Let’s see what else is available today. I noticed there are a lot of very fresh shrimps available.
Look how fresh those shrimps are, might as well buy some.
Those shrimps were not part of the plan, but we still bought some anyway. Moving on we went straight to my wife’s favorite vendor. Just look at those blue crabs and alamang (krill). Last time we shared a recipe of our local cuisine and if you missed it, feel free to have a look.
Now for our target for today “The Samba”.
The sizes varies, but today there are a lot of big ones.
My wife bought a kilo that is worth 250 pesos or around $4.68. We got more than a kilo as we were given a few extras. One of the perks if you have a favorite vendor at the market place. I think we were given around 3 to 4 pieces extra.
Here we go and it is time to take home our Samba.
Back home some of them are still moving as we washed them.
They have an armor like shell covering their body and underneath each covering are sharp spines. So be careful while handling them.
Let’s take a closer look. The eyes of the mantis shrimp are one of the most complex in the animal kingdom. Us humans have only three types of photoreceptor cells, while they have 12 to 16 types. Those cells are responsible for our sight during the process of absorbing light and turning them into electrical signals.
These are the weapons of the Samba and looks like the claws of a mantis. This crustacean is a dangerous predator and can stun and dismember a prey easily. Some species have clubs instead of claws, even known to smash the shells of crabs and clams.
Let’s zoom in for a closer look to see how sharp the claws are.
With lightning fast speed any prey caught buy its claws are definitely doomed.
It somehow resembles and alien insect that lives underwater. It’s protection doesn’t stop from there, aside from the spines on its sides. The tail is also well protected and any fish that tries to have a quick snack will surely be in a lot of pain.
A creature that is perfectly designed, the mantis shrimp is force to reckon with under the sea.
Time to prepare our meal and get that wood stove burning. The wood from the fruit crates are getting low, next time we need to get more for our outdoor cooking needs.
This recipe is very easy to prepare. All you need are the Samba, a little bit of salt and just a little bit of water. Around half a cup of water would do, just enough so the bottom part would not burn.
Once ready, cover and just leave for 15 minutes.
You could check once in a while as they cook quickly. You would notice that the color of the Samba would change.
Take the pot off the fire and we are done.
The pot steamed Samba a local favorite and also a great companion for beer drinkers.
Now how do we open it? I took the liberty to show you how to de shell them and not hurt yourself while doing so.
I think this is the biggest one among them and a great example to use.
First just turn them over and carefully press down on the sides of each of the covering. You would feel the shells loosening up. Take extra careful though as there are small spines on the sides of each layer.
Once done you could easily peel off the shells from the body.
Another easy way of peeling them is cutting the sides with scissors. That would also allow you to peel off the shell easily keeping the meat intact.
Here we are de shelled and ready to eat. Just bring out some newly cooked rice and a spicy vinegar as a dip.
Thanks for joining me and I hope you enjoyed the show. It was fun sharing local food that we have. Let me know and give me your thoughts as I would love to hear from you.
If you liked it just stay tuned as I would be sharing more every week. See you again on our next local food trip.
Thank you and have a good evening, afternoon or morning everyone.
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All photos are original and taken with
Lumix GX85 and 12-32 mm
with macro extension tube