I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Balay Shells or Ugpan but I’ve seen them for time to time being sold at the local wet market near our place. I don’t remember this shellfish served at home but now that I regularly go to the market my curiosity is piqued! I actually made a mental note to try out all the seafood/shellfish/fish that I haven’t tried before and to see how they taste.
And I’m starting with this: Balay Shells or Ugpan. I think this is called Tongue Shells in English and it’s fairly cheap. We got 300g of Ugpan for ₱30 which is a lot and it could serve 3-4 persons.
This is what uncooked Balay Shells looks like. It has that black-thingy at the end of it’s “tongue” (or whatever you call it). You have to trim it off before cooking so that you can coax the meat from it later on.
Since I didn’t know how to cook it, peanutbutter♥ and I asked the vendor how the cook it. He told us it’s scrumptious when cooked like Totcho. So it was sauteed in tahure (fermented tofu), onion, tomato, garlic, and ginger. Unlike mussels and clams, this shellfish doesn’t open even when cooked. You have to open it yourself to get the meat inside the shell.
I like the white meat that comes out of it’s tongue but I find the meat inside too rubbery for my taste. I still prefer oysters, mussels, and clams but it’s great that I got to try it.
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How To Cook Balay Shells or Ugpan
- 300g Balay Shells or Ugpan, cleaned and trimmed of the end part of their “tongue” (or whatever you call them)
- 1 pc tahure (fermented tofu)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small knob of ginger, sliced
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ cup tausi (black beans)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- patis to taste
- In a small bowl, Mash tahure, add vinegar and water.Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan, sauté garlic, then add ginger, onions, and tomatoes.
- Sauté until onions are translucent then add Balay Shells or Ugpan.
- Pour in tahure mixture and tausi. Mix well.
- Bring it to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Season with patis to taste
- Turn off heat and serve with steamed rice.