Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tonight's Dinner: Tinolang Tahong (Mussel Soup)

How's your weekend?

We stayed in our grandmother's house the whole day. While my son played with his cousins, I had a little chat with our aunts and grandmother on the porch. That is what I like about weekends... I get to catch up on my relative's lives over sumptuous meals.

I was asked to cook tinolang tahong (mussel soup). This is one of the easiest Filipino dishes to cook.

Here are the ingredients:
1/2 kilo of tahong (mussel)
3 tablespoons of oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 thumb size ginger, cut into strips
1 8 oz. 7-Up
Salt to taste

Here's how to cook it:
1. Saute onion, garlic and ginger in a deep pan. Put in cleaned and fresh mussels. It is always best to cook seafoods while they are still fresh. Mix a bit.

2. Add the 7-Up. Cover the pan. There is no need to add water since the mussels will release its juice when it  opens. You may wonder why there is 7-Up in the dish. I actually don't know. I just learned this dish from my grandma and she's been doing it since time immemorial. Taste-wise, the 7-Up balances the saltiness of the mussels so sometimes it is no longer necessary to add salt. What if there's no 7-Up? Try Sprite. Seriously. The effect is just the same.

3. You know it s already cooked when the mussels are already open. Add salt to adjust taste.

You may also substitute tahong with halaan (clam).

Tahong is a kind of bivalve (where clams also belong) with scientific name of Perna viridis. It has a characteristic blue, brown and green elongated shell and byssus (beard) to help it attach to its substrate. It feeds on phytoplankton, zooplankton and other suspended materials that is why it is commonly infected with the deadly red tide or harmful algal bloom.

Shells may be used as fillers for animal drugs or as ingredient for animal feeds because it is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus. Polished tahong shells may also be used as an accessory or home decoration.

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