A collection of my favourite recipes & remedies from Mexico and around the world.

Cucarachas del Mar - Sea Cockroaches - would you eat them?

Cucarachas del Mar – Sea Cockroaches – would you eat them?

Strange Local Delicacies: Cucarachas del Mar – would you eat them?

There is a myriad of odd and unrecognizable fare in Mexico that i had never seen or heard of before living here, some less appetising than others. I find a lot of the time when trying new food it is better to try it before asking what it is to avoid immediate rejection!

That could be the case with the recipe i am going to share with you today, Ceviche de Cucarachas del Mar.  Ceviche or cebiche is any kind of seafood “cooked” in lime juice and mixed with diced tomato, onion, chili and cilantro – there are many regional variations. Cucarachas del mar are what they sound like, sea cockroaches aka chitons or sea cradles.. would you eat them?

A day out at the beach – Playa Campos, Manzanillo, Colima.

chihuahuas y sombrilla playa campos manzanillo colima

So i had some days off – did i forget to mention i have been working without a break almost since new years? Which is why i haven’t been blogging so much, anyway, i made the most of my free time and me and hubby have been out and about, hiking, visiting friends, going to the beach and generally enjoying ourselves.

One of our days out was to go and visit a friend at his new place down at Campos, past Manzanillo Centro and the thermoelectrico. It is not a very visited area as the sea there is open sea and drops off very deep just a little past the shore line so not the safest swimming spot. Besides that it is way down past all the tourist beaches, past the downtown and driving through some quite industrial looking areas, but once you get there you have the place to yourself. Our friend has a beautiful beach front palapa there, a great spot for a party, gathering or to camp, also a great spot to eat some strange local delicacies.

A long walk down the beach

A long walk down the beach

They aren’t really cockroaches – are they?

In the restaurants in Manzanillo you will usually find ceviche de pescado – fish,  camarones – prawns, pulpo – octopus and maybe jaiba – a type of small crab. Well this day we ate ceviche de cucarachas del mar or ceviche of sea cockroaches! Sounds pretty grim but i have to say it was excellent. By the way, these little guys aren’t really cockroaches, they aren’t even bugs, they are a small to medium-sized mollusc that suck onto the rocks with their one “foot” and eat the algae.. not tempting you yet? Well here is the recipe and the photos which may help to convince you (or not).. honestly, it was delicious!

Here is my recipe for Mexican Ceviche Manzanillo Style, made with fish and prawns if you can’t find (or stomach) the cucarachas del mar.

The underneath of a chiton

The underneath of a chiton

Ingredients:

Serves 4 as meal or 6-8 as a snack.

A chiton in its shell

Cucarachas del Mar / Sea Cockroaches aka Chitons aka Polyplacophora
8-10 limes, juice of
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
5 med-large tomatoes, diced
3-6 green serrano chilis, minced
cilantro finely chopped
Sea salt to taste

Tostadas and Salsa Valentina to serve

How to make it:

The hunter gatherer returning with his catch

The hunter gatherer returning with his catch

Ok, first i just have to mention that you are not going to find these little guys in the supermarket, fishmongers and not even in the market, they are somewhat of a local secret. You can’t just go and buy them, you either need to know someone who knows where and how to get them or collect them yourself. They are not really difficult to find or to take off the rocks, the difficulty lies in getting to where they are, they tend to live on the rocks close to crashing waves in tricky places. I left that job to the men, so i will just get to the ‘how to’ part.

Cucarachas del Mar or Chitons live on the rocks in tricky places

Cucarachas del Mar or Chitons live on the rocks in tricky places

1. Once you have your Cucarachas del Mar or Chitons, you need to get them out of the shell, which is kind of gross. Take a small sharp knife and cut either side of the “foot” and it comes out of the shell with a little tug, make sure you get rid of the brown gunky stuff, they call it ‘deveining’ when talking about prawns.

Bucket full of Chitons collected from the rocks.

Bucket full of Chitons collected from the rocks.

2. Wash and rinse them thoroughly with clean water then chop them into bite size pieces, put them into the bowl you will be serving them in.

Out of the shell, clean, whole chitons

Out of the shell, clean, whole chitons

3. Squeeze the limes into the bowl of chopped cucarachas then sprinkle generously with sea salt. There should be plenty of juice, as this is what will ‘cook’ them. You can leave them 15-20 minutes to cook before adding the rest of the ingredients if you wish. (We didn’t wait, after the long walk down the beach and the hardwork going up and down the rocks we were hungry!!)

Mix chitons with lime juice, diced tomato, onion and chili

Mix chitons with lime juice, diced tomato, onion and chili, yummy!

4. Add the chopped tomatoes, onion, chilies and cilantro, mix it all up so it is evenly distributed and serve with plenty of tostadas – you can use crackers if you don’t have tostadas – Salsa Valentina and an ice-cold beer… now tell me that’s not a tasty and unusual seaside treat!

Perfect with an ice-cold beer, Salud!

Perfect with an ice-cold beer, Salud!

Strange Local Delicacies:

Have you eaten strange local foods while travelling or does your home town have some odd delicacy? What’s the weirdest / grossest thing you have ever eaten?

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Comments on: "Strange Local Delicacies: Cucarachas del Mar – would you eat them?" (4)

  1. I would definitely eat them. But I would CALL them something else as I was doing so! We are also planning a Mexico trip in May. I will have to give them a try. Thanks!

  2. Pretty sure that I would love them. Thanks – this was really interesting. We visit Mexico a few times per year.

    • If you have ever tried ‘Gorros’ while in Mexico they are pretty similar. Have you ever been to Manzanillo? If not you should consider it for your next trip to Mexico, it is very beautiful here and i would be more than happy to show you some of the wonderful places we know 🙂

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