Tuesday, November 2, 2010

back from the brink

I first heard about the diwal about a decade ago. People told me that it was the best-tasting shellfish EVER, but that I would never be able to try it because it was almost extinct. (So why bother telling me, huh?)

From roxascity.gov.ph: "The diwal is a rare bivalve found abundantly along the coastal waters of Capiz. Ten years ago, it disappeared because of illegal harvesting practices and pollution. Now, after intensive research, seeding, and strict fishing and harvesting legislation, the diwal is again ready for harvest as the efforts of the Roxas City government have once again caused its abundance. The diwal is known for its sweet and juicy qualities and its immaculately white elliptical shells, hence the name 'Angel Wing' shell." 

Some things are truly worth conserving. So that I can eat it.

The first diwal I had was in Bacolod, in 2008. The second was in Roxas City early this year. But the biggest and best-tasting were in Villa (pronounced vil-ya) near Iloilo City just last month.

Each almost as long as my hand.

I like shellfish, and I feel so blessed that I live in a place where I can eat them without worrying about getting poisoned by red tide. I like oysters, scallops, mussels, clams... usually in their natural state or as close to it as possible. Which is why I was never too keen on the diwal. The first two times I tried them, they were cooked to rubbery death and topped with burnt garlic, fake cheese and bright yellow margarine. Ew.

But these diwal that we had at Breakthrough Restaurant in Villa were heavenly.

Shellfish is sexy!
The meat was tender and juicy, with just a hint of garlic and butter. Most of the delicious liquid in the shell is from the animal itself-- the way it should be. Overall, the taste is delicate but very distinct. When you bite into it, you know that it's diwal, and not any other shellfish.

I actually feel bad for those people who've never eaten diwal at Breakthrough. I would blissfully travel the six hours from my home to Iloilo, just to eat this again.

Thank you, Ninong and your lovely wife for that fabulous lunch. I'd gladly trade another Calea cheesecake for a meal at Breakthrough. Basta may diwal.


  1. Wow, now you have me craving diwal, in Malaysia they are called mentaram and the most popular way to eat them after putting chilli in the water so that they naturally spit out the sand, is to barbecue them and add a sprinkle of salt to counterbalance their natural sweetish taste.You know how much I love oysters, so diwal is something that I am sure I will love to eat, must try them out in March assuming of course that they are in season.