Alupihang Dagat

My brother cooked a mouthwatering Alupihang Dagat or Mantis Shrimp in Coconut Sauce (Ginataan na may Kalabasa) a few days ago.

Mantis Shrimp

Mantis shrimps are highly aggressive crustaceans that capture prey using large, raptorial claws much like that of a praying mantis. They’re very perishable out of the water – only the big ones are worth eating because there’s not much meat on them, just a thin strip.

It was given by his friend from a fresh market in Tanza, Cavite.

I posted the dish online and an amiga from Riyadh called it Tatampal or Hipong Dapa.

It’s a cross between a shrimp and a crab but much tastier.

It was not easy to eat but the meat was sweet like a lobster.

Some startling facts about Tatampal:

Despite their namesake and relatively puny stature, mantis shrimp aren’t shrimp at all. (Neither, of course, are they mantises.) They’re stomatopods, distant relatives to crabs, shrimp, and lobsters.

Mantis shrimps are highly aggressive crustaceans that capture prey using large, raptorial claws much like that of a praying mantis.

The life of a mantis shrimp isn’t all cold-blooded killing. Some species of stomatopods are known to engage in the rare practice of social monogamy, a behavior that’s especially remarkable among crustaceans.

This means mantis shrimp will choose one partner to share food, shelter, and raise offspring with over the course of a lifetime. What may sound romantic to humans serves a practical purpose for mantis shrimp.

Research has shown that certain mantis shrimp tend to cluster outside reefs instead of living in the heart of the action. Without the need to go looking for someone new to mate with on a regular basis, mantis shrimp couples are able to enjoy a relatively safe, sedentary lifestyle secluded from predators.

Some mantis shrimp species mate for life — they meet the shrimp of their dreams and they share the same burrow, protect their eggs and help each other with hunting for their entire lives — up to 20 years.

Stomatopods began evolving independently from other crustaceans nearly 400 million years ago, about 170 million years before the first dinosaurs appeared on the scene. Since then they’ve followed an isolated, evolutionary lineage that’s resulted in some of their more unique characteristics. Their biology is so bizarre that scientists have assigned them the nickname “shrimp from Mars.”

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