Aligue (Shore Crab Roe) Rice With Sardines

These pictures and recipe have been sitting in my computer since July. I made it, loved it and enjoyed every single spoonful I ate. Like with the package of TWG teas that I got as a parting gift from a good friend in the Philippines, another good friend gave me some jars of these shore crab roe. It's not something that everyone will really like because it can be appreciated through acquired taste. Why? Because it is pure roe of the shore crabs (See picture at the bottom). I am 99% sure that it's crab roe even if it is locally known in the Philippines as aligue or taba ng talangka which literally translate to shore crab fat.

It is a peculiar specialty of a region in the Philippines called Pampanga, that is bordered by a river where the shore crabs are abundant. Shore crabs are very small and to fill up a small 230 gram-bottle, a big sack of them is needed. That is the genuine thing but nowadays, a lot of producers add starch and pass them off as pure. They are then pre-cooked in oil, salt & calamansi lemons. The ones that my friend gave me are without starch so you can guess how good they are, in my (shore crab roe-loving) opinion. I can't give you a brand to recommend because the bottles are unmarked but sealed.

The very first time I saw and tried steamed fresh shore crabs was when I went to the Philippines last June. There is a little art in eating them as I have learned. There are no utensils needed, just your hands. Only the roe under the shell cover is eaten, that you scoop out with the little finger and the rest is thrown away. Every crab yields just enough to fill up the tip of a teaspoon. It's not really for the impatient people.

The most common way to enjoy aligue is to sautè it in oil and garlic, give a squeeze of calamansi or lemon then mix it with rice. Delicious! There are some innovative recipes coming out now and they are all worth the attention they merit. Anything with aligue sounds good to me. This can also be mixed with pasta as it is becoming popular in the Philippines and it just depends on how it is represented. My version is Black Tonarelli With Aligue & Shrimp.

Mixed with this aligue rice are pre-cooked sardines preserved in olive oil which I also got from the Philippines. Preserved sardines are available everywhere so you don't need to make a trip to the Asian store for it. Green veggies like the green peas are important to balance the taste and color.  Aligue, taba ng talangka or crab paste (whichever of these names you encounter, they're one and the same) can be a difficult ingredient to find but if you ever encounter it (and I hope it will be a good one), think about testing it with this sautèed rice version and I hope you will like it.

My next posts will be coming from the Italian and French Riviera where I will be working and hopefully, have fun too, for the coming week. I will be posting pictures in Facebook, Twitter & Instagram as I move along the coast and visit old towns and hotels in the area. 

Have a wonderful week!

Aligue (Shore Crab Roe) Rice With Sardines

Serves 2
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup green peas
  • salt & pepper  
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 cup taba ng talangka (crab paste or shore crab roe)
  • 1 tablespoon calamansi, lime or lemon juice (plus more to adjust)
  • 4 pre-cooked sardines (preserved in oil), crumbled 
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • fresh chives or parsley, finely chopped

  1. Over medium heat, sautè the green peas and tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil. Cook for about 10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, sautè the garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add the crab paste when the garlic starts to color. Sautè for a minute. 
  3. Add a tablespoon of calamansi juice.
  4. Add the sardines. Toss for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the cooked rice and coat with crab paste. Adjust the amount if you want more or less of the recommended amount.
  6. Mix in the peas & tomatoes. 
  7. Garnish with chives or parsley.