Growing up in Cebu, an island province with just the coastline less than a kilometer from our house and coupled with a public market that has the freshest seafood, it’s no wonder that I am exposed to different kinds of shellfish as food. And one of my favorites? Saang a large sized univalve mollusk that is either boiled or cooked over coals.
Saang is popularly known as spider conch, a marine snail that is identified by its flared outer lip with its hollow digits emanating from the margin and which are ornamental in nature. It is under the genus Lambis in the family Strombidae.
While I was waiting for the pumpboat at the small wharf of Punta Engaño at the northwestern tip of Mactan Island, enroute to Olango Island to shoot a resort, I saw this lady with her pail full of saang. A security guard near her was voraciously eating the delicious meat out of the shell, piece by delicious piece. Who won’t be envious at such a sight?
I came up to her,
Tagpila nang? (How much?), I asked.
Tag singko dong (Just five pesos per piece of shell), she answered.
At that price, who would say no considering that these are quite fresh? She told me that it was cooked boiled.
Lima nang (5 shells please), I told her.
I took one, held it by one hand with the opening faced up. I took the vinegar with cane vinegar, poured a few drops at the opening. Placed the vinegar down and grabbed the operculum, slowly took out the mollusk and ate it. Surprisingly, the creature is easy to extract as we used to break the shell with a hammer or rock just to get to the meat.
Delicious. Sweet, sour. Soft. Fresh. And I ate 10 shells. Sated.
What about you? Have you tasted this shell? Or even the tamilok (woodworm)?