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Our (not so boring) Simple Life on a Tiny Private Island in Mindanao


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   I grew up in a household of excellent ‘from-scratch’ deep southern cooks. And Houston was and still is a wide ethnically diverse community city, as is Southern Texas as a whole, populated with long-established large ethnic communities scattered throughout. I am always amazed by Northern twits wishing to associate South-Texans as literate fat rednecks who only eat burnt meat. When Houston actually has more restraints, museums, theater and culture than New York City, and most of us actually know how to drive and be respectful to their neighbors. So we are not practically impressed with New Yorkers and Californians.

   When my wife came to the US she could cook well and knew most traditional dishes, but she then watched and learned from my family. And I made a point of taking here to quality restraints in Houston, Austin and New Orleans allowing her to actually experience and understand the true textures, seasonings and flavors of those dishes. And being only a mere 50 miles from the Gulf Coast, fresh seafood where a regular part of our family diet.  

   So when my family moves here to Surigao Ciry/Dinagat our diets actually did not change much. If I get a hankering for Mexican food, Italian, german, Asian, and others we merely seek out that which allows the making of a reasonable facsimile. There are of course those things (mainly seasonings) which are impossible to fine, but with a little innovation a improvisation a reasonable conquering can be created, at least enough to satisfy those most dogged hankerings.  This is only possible because from personal experiences she actually understands those dishes. Someone merely staring at a photo without those experiences, does not have a clue of the desired end-result. And fine-dines on Bourbon Street and high-end Asian restaurants of Houston were an inspiration for my wife, as to the seafood dishes she puts on our table.

   My wife and I basically just moved into a temporary work-camp dwelling. Typical coconut wood hutch with a nepa roof and was intended to only be used for a few  years at most. But for a isolated work-camp it was certainly comfortable enough, as six years later we are still comfortable enough for our simple lifestyle. The nepa later was replaced with tin which has been the only upgrade to the structure, but coconut wood does not age well and soon we will need to tare-down the wooden portions of the wooden walls and roof. But we are content to build over the top of the previous foundation, just raising the existing cement floor levels, and expand the front porch and adding a new screened side-porch area. But with luck that will still be a couple of years from now. This year we we are collecting the materials to renovate and expand our dirty-kitchen area, and finally start tearing-out raising and adding more garden space. Later intended projects are the addition of elevated fresh-water tanks for hydro-culture food production (with luck starting next year). The later additions being a large propane oven, and small traditional brick-oven(for breads and pizza), and an enclosed BBQ pit area where I can cook and smoke meats. Not big projects, but on our meager budget, we have to do things one tiny step at a time. 

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   Most top-end restaurants in the States merely dream of the freshness, diversity and variety of the critters we simply pluck from our little ‘corner market', or the variety of fish freshly caught live by our neighbors and literally delivered directly to our front gate.

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So what has life been like for both my wife and myself, living on a tiny 8-hector private island  on the outer-edge of of a mangrove forest? In a nutshell, not boring and amazingly roomy. We are liter

First though this odd tale requires a little back-story to fully appreciate and under the overall layering of unforeseeable consequences, circumstances and little nudges by Karma and an angle or two. 

So now this odd tale forwards. It’s now a mere three months before another Karma intervention and cosmic Nelson “Ha Ha”. As unbeknownst to us, all our efforts to navigate through the road blocks, and

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   I will show you folks a few of our more favorite wiggly squiggles and fish that we catch in our local 'corner market'. Over the years here I have collected a volume of images and vids, which I have scattered throughout fifteen external harddrves. But to be trustful presently I frankly have neither the time or desire to dig into all of them for a mere handful of gems to post. Example: I have an image of a marlin caught less than less than 900 yards in front of the island. The image of the silver tuna that jumped in to our floating platform one night, or images the two species of wild lobster 'scallop' and 'slipper' which there has been a few. But as the thread continues, and I have the time to go through my many image files, I will post them on the thread at a later date. I primarily want to focus only on what the wife and me eat, as I know that is what members. I have another ongoing thread which will discuss everything we feed the sea-bugs eat (there diet list much larger), and besides redundancy is both boring and unnecessary. 

   So lets talk eats for a while, and show what these waters around Tangjanonan add to the table.

   Fresh squid is always welcome at my table. There are a lot of ways to fix them. My favorite is stuff-breaded baked in a cast-iron 'Dutch oven', with plenty of vegetables and fungi in the mix. Now add a side of pan-baked 'Italian eggplant' and I could eat myself short of a coma.

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   We often catch octopus, shrimp and small fish; there are so many different ways to cook them. Coastal Pinoys and neighboring countries have concocted some interesting tasty traditional dishes using these. 

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   'Sea cucumber' is also a favorite, and one of the species we are currently collecting the needed materials to raise in our saltwater pond out back of the house.

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   And this 'DongSoy' and one only has to mention the word to a Pinoy to see how much they love them. They make an amazing soup, and their 'green poop' sells for over 1,000(php) and is a prizes food delicacy. Don't knock 'green poop'... This is another specie we will soon be raising in our pond.

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And two other favorites are 'scallops' (image presently not available) and 'abalone'. Both I dearly love and will very soon to be raised inside our pond.

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more images to be add...

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   So our list of delectable vittles continue...

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This is common and highly desired shell critter called 'Sa-ang' and has a rather chewy texture but very tasty and highly prized by the locals, they are a staple which makes their way into our diet a few times a week.

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This is another cockle but found in the sands a few islands over from ours, called a 'blood clam' due to the reddish shell coloration, fat and tasty critters.

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   Eel and assorted fish caught here regularly off our shore 

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   The local 'light boats' will pack together to literately rangle these jewels right up the edge of our shoreline, I have a few light videos of them fishing cor them. I am sure I will later be posting a video if this on this thread. They are a favorite of mine, especially when fries with battered-eggs.

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   I love the variety of fish caught close off-shore of the island.

more images to be add...

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   So our list of delectable vittles continue...

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   One unexpected friendship oddly developed between the large fishing boats and us, I expect more than a few photos and clips will be added to the thread as it progresses. The island has a natural topography which allows the large fishing boats and local passenger boats to drop their moor lines up close the the shoreline of island opposite to the outer (open sea side of the island) open coastline. And that deepwater mangrove greatly reduces heavy wave action, making a great sanctuary from the big storm. We have always had an open policy for these large wooden boats, so then they need to repairs/replacements on their boats they come here. There are probably a dozen of these fishing rigs operating out of of Surigao City, but rarely more than a few here at the same time, as they spend long-stretches out at sea. But when they return they always have one of their crew to boat from the city a few fair-size free 'yellow-fins', are always an appreciated surprise. I mention this because we are presently finishing off some fine tuna stakes off two 'yellow-fins' they dropped us over the weekend. I love the coastal fishing culture.

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   These waters have a diverse array of fish. This is why we are gathering nets to make a series of small aquaculture 'grow-out' pens. We can place desired fish species into 'grow-out' pens, where they can be housed and allowed to grow to a more desired size. Some to sell, some to eat but always fresh.

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   these buggers don't get much larger than this, they are called 'sahoy' (I call them 'fish-bait') but the wife loves them. She rarely feeds them to me as they're small and boney. There are other dishes she will cook for me instead,that is how I know she still loves me...

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   These are a much better sized fish for me, either fried or sweet-sauce marinaded served with garlic stir-fried rice, always does the trick for me. Sure beats the 'fish-bait', I can tell you that for sure.  

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   This about the normal size fish the local fishermen catch and sell. We can house these for several extra months in 'grow-out' nets allowing them to easily double in size. Then eat them ourselves, or sell them directly out of our little island store. With luck we can turn a few extra coins in the whole process.

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   This is the advantage to housing fish for 'grow-out' net aquaculture.

more images to be add...

 

 

 

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Is that Nemo? :Caught:

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3 hours ago, Mike J said:

Is that Nemo? :Caught:

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LOL, the orange white ones are small but tasty. Also the black white striped one they both have that black dot "eye" on dorsal fin.

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4 hours ago, Mike J said:

Is that Nemo? :Caught:

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Nah, come to find-out that was actually his younger step-brother (former stunt-double) Frank. The sorry in the tabloids claim that Nemo after his movie fame, got hooked on drugs, forced to sell his swank Beverly tank over back-taxes. He how resides with Dorsey in a tiny rented display tank, owned by a Greek 'Fish&Chip' in lower South Sidney. Just another typical Hollywood cautionary tale tail...

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So our list of delectable vittles continue...

   So I am trying to flip 'back-and-forth' between specie types as not to make the thread too boring, and I am primarily trying to focus on those that their way to our table. Yes we regularly buy can-goods, meats, veggies and fruits during the month; especially during this lock-down, when goods can get a bit scarce from week to week. But our farm being a long established piece of property full of fruit trees and vegetables, there always seems like something is in or ready to harvest. So it supplements our diet with fresh-harvest goods well enough, for the most part. We have a few coconuts here on the island as well, and a couple of small herb-gardens, so we are far from starving here.

   I earlier showed a few vanity of clams. And being a multi-generational coastal Texan you realize early about clams. Whites, Blacks, Tejanos, Mexicans, Italians, Cajuns, Europeans and Asians all eat clams. So I am going to show a few more from around here.  

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   This is called commonly called 'green clam' and sold in the frozen-food isles, and served in many top-end restaurants. Me we pluck them fresh for Italian or Cajun dishes where the seasons compliment their savory taste, excellent when cooking with wine and cheeses.

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   This is called commonly called 'blue clam' and also sold in the frozen-food isles, and is also served in many top-end restaurants. As to taste they are conferable in my opinion, but estedics wise the 'green clam' has more of an appeal if you're looking for presentation.  

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   To me the scallop is the "king of clams" and when in sea-grasses among the shallows of the mangroves these are what I am searching for the most. Excellent in Tejano/Mexican dishes, plain-Texas grilling. These critters can be cooked so many different, but 'scallop' tacos and 'scallop' pizza... 

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   The 'Taiwan' shell that are a freshwater clam which we buy from time-to-time, they are cheap and if breaded and fried catfish and fries/chips, they go along quite well with cold beer and good friends. Or with B.B.Q. and or chili. 

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   These little sweet-harts are a long-time favorite of mine. 'Apple snails' are also called 'Escargots' and I have loved them, and 'stuffed Mushroom caps' since a child. Both excellent side-dishes for Italian and Cajun/Creole dishes. Here I pluck them from the rice-fields at the farm.

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   And my favorite vegetable is 'boiled or fries Shrimp'...

more images to be add...

 

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21 hours ago, jamesmusslewhite said:

So I am trying to flip 'back-and-forth' between specie types as not to make the thread too boring,

Trust me you have succeeded.  Honestly what is your point as  really no one cares as much as you?  Why dont you go ahead and start your own site which you said you were working on as this is not what we want here. We want covid conspiracy and crap like that. Not some fish name. :smile:

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