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.
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.
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.
Serves 4 as meal or 6-8 as a snack.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!!)
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!
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?
- Ceviche. Lots of new words. (nicolarichmond.wordpress.com)
- Authentic Mexican: Ceviche and Cow Tongue Tacos (amberwoodterrace.wordpress.com)
- Shrimp Pineapple Ceviche (beautifullynutty.com)
- Red Snapper Ceviche (click2houston.com)
- Hormigas, saltamontes, cucarachas, maracuya y mas!! (adventureisouttherecuenca.wordpress.com)