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Seafood in a brighter shade of red
Source: Inquirer
Author: Rowena Burgos
Date: 2001-05-03
OURS is a nation blessed with the sea’s bounty yet

some of us do poorly by it. A fish is to fry, we think. So

we slosh it with batter or jacket it in bread crumbs and

plunk it into bubbling oil. There’s nothing wrong with

fried fish but there are too many kinds of fish to lump in

the same kettle.

From a catch far less impressive than our own, the

French have built an inspired repertoire of recipes. The

Scandinavians know dozens of ways to prepare salmon

and herring; the Greeks do exciting things with squid; the

Italians—well, it was they who taught the French to

cook; the Chinese whish shrimps in and out of a wok with a crunch of green

vegetables so that it’s irresistibly succulent; the Japanese have made an art and

ritual of sushi.

But this is not to say we don’t have some classics of our own.

At the Red Crab Seafood and Steaks, it’s hard to top

Crab Adobo sautéed in rich crab aligi, ginger and spices,

for example. Or the spicy Sizzling Gambas sautéed in

tomato sauce, or the Grilled Pampano with Tagilo, which

is fermented rice and shrimps.

Owned and managed by Chiqui Eusebio and her children

Raymund, Maricel, Chang and Nikki, the Red Crab

opened its first branch three years ago in Clark. Their

clientele are "those who spend a lot on seafoods and

steaks after a mean game of golf at the Mimosa Leisure

Estate or losing in the casino." After a year, outlets were

put up at 536 Remedios St., Malate, Manila and at 184 Tomas Morato, QC a

month ago.

Patterned after the fastfood restaurant Red Lobster which has over 600 branches

in the United States, the Red Crab is into fine dining "which aims to serve the best

seafoods and premium steaks in a relaxed ambience."

The core of the menu are the 12 crab dishes that are steamed, deep-fried,

Szechuan, Singaporean chili, Lungkow, Tauchi, relleno, sautéed in coconut milk,

crab fat, olive oil, miswa and celery or cooked in black beans and oyster sauce.

"The menu is constantly evolving, depending on the tastes of our customers. They

can even go into the kitchen to make sure their preferences are followed," says

Raymund Magdaluyo.

In fact, some appetizing suggestions have been part of the restaurant’s menu:

Crab Lilian, sautéed in coconut milk, marinated and spiced with native chili

peppers, which was named after a family friend, Lilian Limjoco; and Crab

Maritess, cooked in olive oil, butter and wine and topped with chili peppers and

garlic, also named after a regular client, Maritess Araneta. They’re now

experimenting on Thai Chili Crab and Pepper Crab.

Delicious fresh catch

Shellfish, especially crustaceans, have been known to contain high cholesterol.

But their greatest drawback is that they often cause allergic reactions and also, if

not absolutely fresh, can poison you. Sometimes you have to struggle to get them

out of the shells, as is the case with oysters, or put up with a revolting appearance

as with squids.

But Raymund makes sure that their crabs, which mostly weigh from 1-1.5 kilos,

are delivered alive and well from Pampanga and Bataan to their three outlets.

"We don’t really go for size but for consistency, sweetness of meat and the

orangey quality of fat." He also adds that their boneless bangus and panga from

General Santos are blast frozen.

Aside from seafoods, the Red Crab also proffers US black angus and New

Zealand premium cuts, soups, salads, vegetables, barbecue and deep-fried

specials, grilled favorites, pasta collection, meals for kids, desserts and native

dishes from Pampanga. There’s also the Combination Platter of Fillet Mignon

paired either with Garlic Prawns, Tempura, Norwegian Salmon, Grilled Lobster

or Grilled Blue Marlin and served with soup of the day, fresh greens, salad and

steamed rice or any potato sidings.

With such cuisine that evokes down-to-earth pleasures, one won’t leave the

place with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Family of cooks

Since the Magdaluyos have been born and raised in an evocative location such as

Pampanga where their mother and grandma cultivated an art as delicate as it is

succulent, the siblings have acquired the region’s culinary refinement.

Cuisine is one of the strong points of their 80-year-old grandmother Amanda,

who prepares the sauces for Red Crab’s heavenly creations. A cusinera de

campanilla in San Fernando, Pampanga, all she has to do is taste a dish

however elaborate, to know immediately what ingredients it contains and in what

proportions, how long it was cooked and how she can improve it. Evidently,

grandma’s genes have been passed on to the grandchildren. Chang is "naturally

gifted" when it comes to cooking. She manages the 6-sq m Minindal in SM

Pampanga, which serves Pampango merienda fare, and helps their mom in

overseeing the Red Crab outlet in Clark. Nikki is a spectacle once in the kitchen.

Nothing escapes her nose, her taste buds and her instincts as a chef.

Raymund, for his part, runs the outlets in Manila and Quezon City. A

management economics graduate, he took up urban planning for his postgraduate

studies then joined the Asian Institute of Management’s Policy Center for three

years. He now teaches city development at Ateneo and occasionally does

projects for Palafox Associates.

Together with their eldest sister, Maricel, who is a doctor, they have formed the

RMCN Seafoods and Steaks and the Red Crab Food Group, which plans to

cater for special functions of 50-100 persons.

Truly, we can do better by most of our catch. And the Red Crab shows that if

we lavish half as much passion on the cooking of seafoods as we do on the

catching, we’d do very well indeed.

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