Aligue is one of those guilty pleasures I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. Not quite guilty then, but now as I’ve grown older and worries about calories and cholesterol loom, it has become an indulgence.
Aligue is crab fat; that thick spongey orange coral you find tucked in the corners of a crab’s shell. Perfect when dipped in vinegar and eaten with rice, it’s not unusual to feel the blood rush to your brain afterwards.
If you’re Kapampangan though, aligue is also the fat from talangka, teeny tiny crablets that reside in freshwater fish ponds. As a child, my grandmother would preserve talangka (burong talangka) by sprinkling some rock salt on them, then sticking them in the fridge, alive. Probably brutal, by today’s animal care standards, but this was years ago.
Hours after sticking them in the fridge, she’d press the talangka in such a way that the orangey fat with black streaks would squirt out. We’d then mix it with steaming rice, sprinkle some more salt, then eat.
Today, aligue is available, sold in bottles. From its appearance, I assume it’s the cooked kind because the preserved raw kind my grandmother used to serve looked quite different. It’s usually mixed with a little calamansi or vinegar to help preserve it, also adding a little sour tang that helps cut the richness.
From its humble beginnings in little kitchens in the provinces, aligue has progressed a long way, crawling up to the kitchens of posh restaurants serving fusion Filipino food.
Here’s my little tribute to a beloved childhood dish.
Tuna Aligue Pasta v. 04 March 2007
1/2 to 1 cup dried fusilli (or pasta of your choice)
2 tbps olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2-3 tbsp flaked tuna
2 tbsp bottled aligue
1 tsp calamansi or lemon juice
ground black pepper
1. Boil water for pasta. When boiling, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a tsp or so of rock salt. Add pasta and cook per package instructions.
2. Saute minced garlic in olive oil. Before it starts to brown, add the tuna and continue sauteeing.
3. Add aligue, saute a bit, then add lemon juice.
4. Before the pasta becomes totally cooked, add it to your aligue mix, including a few tablespoons of the water you’re boiling the pasta in.
5. Continue mixing until the pasta is completely cooked. Add some pepper to taste.
Originally posted at: http://kitchencow.livejournal.com/31141.html