Tatampal or Mantis Shrimp is a marine crustacean named so for its resemblance to praying mantis though I think the only resemblance is more on the claw part. They call it canocchie in Italy shako in Japan or galeras in Spain. According to Wikipedia, there are around 450 species of Shrimp Mantis. They do have very powerful claws which they use to attack their prey. They were also abundant before and for awhile became really hard to find at least on the wet market where my mother used to get them. But I am happy that my favorite Tatampal gets to show up in the market every once in awhile as evident by the posts I saw on some of my Facebook friends.
Tatampal is prepared, cooked and eaten like shrimps although once cooked the flesh resembles that of a lobster but the meat is tenderer and sweet tasting. This recipe involves sprinkling Mantis shrimp with salt then boiling it with a little bit of water or steaming. Once the color turns pinkish it is done just like cooking other seafood. It seems daunting or hard to open these mantis shrimp, but there is an easier way to crack them open. Yes it can be tricky to eat. Hold them with both of your hands, with your dominant hand pinch one side from under to crack them open. The carapace or shell is hard but it slides off if you dig with your fingernails at the right point of pressure which is right under each side. If it is your first time trying Tatampal, just be careful cracking them open. Be gentle and go slow because along the shell are spikes that poke out to the side.
You can eat Tatampal or Mantis Shrimp on its own but I love it with warm steamed rice, oh you will forget you are on a diet once you start eating them. I usually have tomato with fish sauce on the side to go with it. And on our table back home, it is usually eaten out of the shell. The consistency of the flesh is more like a shrimp but tenderer than a lobster. The taste is different too…I love eating seafood and for me each one of them is unique on its own. And I don’t waste any Tatampal meat, I will dig under the head and even the tail part yes there’s still meat under the shell there. See below for the quick and easy recipe for Halabos na Tatampal or Steamed Mantis Shrimp!
- 1 kilo fresh tatampal washed (shrimp mantis)
- Half cup water
- 1 tbsp. sea salt
- In a pan, put tatampal and water.
- Sprinkle the salt over the tatampal.
- Cover the pan, and let it boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the tatampal change color to pinkish or red.
- Remove from heat and drain the leftover juice.
- Serve with rice with your favorite dipping sauce.
Share and Enjoy!