What is your favorite Filipino hometown food? Food and recipes that is only available in your hometown that you miss most? In my hometown, there’s kare kare sa dugo, adobo sa dilaw, ginataang sikad sikad, mulawin berries. And a whole lot more.
But this is what I miss the most. This is a simple and delicious Filipino food that you can’t find in most other Philippine provinces or cities. In the province of Marinduque is this most wonderful seafood that I can’t find in the markets of Manila. Balakwit is a type of edible seashell (or mollusk) that can only be reliably found in the Southern Tagalog (Quezon, Mindoro, and Batangas) and Palawan. It is a big brother to Sikad, or sikad-sikad, which is a kind of seashell that is more common and easier to find. There is not much difference between balakwit and sikad except that balakwit is bigger.
In the olden days (haha) balakwit (or the sikad) used to be sold and measured in those old Caltex “tabo” but now they’re costlier and being sold per kilo! You see old women carrying pails of sikad walking and shouting Sikad Sikad much like the Irish Molly Malone song selling “cockles and mussels alive alive’ o”.
For those who have not yet tasted this seafood recipe, I can only describe the meat of sikad as sweet and chewy. You don’t exactly eat the seashell but rather, the little animals (mollusks) that live inside it, maybe a cousin of snails or coconut crabs? The seashells are usually cooked with coconut milk and sometimes, as in this case, plain niluyahan soup (cooked in ginger). It’s a soup that smells and tastes like the sea.