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Fresh curacha crabs in a Zamboanga market

Spanner or red frog crab, species name: Ranina ranina or popularly called curacha in Zamboanga

Mindanao, the Philippines’s second largest island has a veil of mystery draped around her. Feared by the uninformed but loved by those who know her true worth and beauty. This series is my tribute for Mindanao, where I’ve been crisscrossing over the years and where a part of me also comes from. From the looks of it, it is just strange. Cockroach like, red and with thin pincers. Its carapace dotted with ten white spots and fringed with hair. Spanner crabs (or red frog crab, Ranina ranina LAMARCK 1801) or popularly known in Zamboanga City as curacha is indeed a strange crustacean.

Lady vendor holding a very huge curacha

I was coming from Zamboanga Sibugay and when I reached Zamboanga City, I went down in Barangay Guiwan. Infront of me was the barangay market, Aderes, and, wanting to see if they have curachas, I went inside to take a look. Fortunately, there were piles and piles of spanner crabs of different sizes and are being sold from P300 – P400 pesos per kilo!

Different sized curachas at the market

Contrary to popular knowledge or just due to poor research, many write ups, from print articles to blog posts keep on perpetuating the myth that the curacha is only found in the deep waters off Zamboanga City. Far from the truth. In fact, spanner crabs are indo-australian crabs that have a wide range that even reaches Australia!

It just so happens that Zamboanga has popularized this type of crab, even if it is also found in other parts of the Philippines. Alavar’s Restaurant, a very popular place here is even associated with its curacha dish with special Alavar’s sauce that its a must visit place for visitors.

The curacha has become a Zamboanga icon and it is best eaten either steamed or boiled or at Alavar’s Restaurant topped with their special sauce. It is found in most markets around Zamboanga City and restaurants usually have it either fresh or frozen.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

5 Comments

  1. Josiah | Lakas ng Trip
    June 5, 2012 @ 11:56

    Woah! Ang laki ng Curacha. Yung one and only time na nakakain ako ng curacha ay nung umuwi yung nanay ko from Zamboanga at may pasalubong siya niyan. Pero mukhang baby curachas lang ang dala niya compared dun sa picture niyo.

  2. Micamyx|Senyorita
    June 6, 2012 @ 23:32

    WOW ang laki nga nyan! T_T I am not sure if I can eat one whole :))

  3. Bonzenti | Con Tour Blog
    June 8, 2012 @ 14:06

    Cockroach like….what a comparative description of Curacha. hehehe. Crabs are my favorite food but I’m allergy to that…

  4. Arnold Supilanas
    January 21, 2016 @ 18:21

    Hi. I’m looking for curacha supplier. Please contact me at 09228447712.

  5. helbert
    November 15, 2017 @ 11:08

    looking for curacha and other crustaceans supplier. contact this number. 09177097601

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