Monday, December 2, 2019

Charcuterie Board

Recently I made a charcuterie board for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner and people seemed to like it so I am making another board using similar ingredients to share with you. For this board, I have 3 different types of cheese--soft, medium and hard, 3 types of cured meats, pate, dried mission figs, dried dates, roasted macadamia nuts, crackers and of course fried tiny green crabs less than 3/4 inch each. Don't let the crabs scare you. Give it a try because you may end up liking it! The cheese recommendation came from Nancy, owner of a European style cheese store, C'est Cheese. This store has more than cheese products so check it out if you are ever in North Hampton, New Hampshire.

Creating a spread for a charcuterie board is fun and easy. Below is a list of food idea that are typically used on a charcuterie board or plate:

Cheese
Cured meats
Pate 
Dips or spreads
Nuts or seeds
Dried or fresh fruits
Olives or pickles
Fresh vegetables 
Crackers or toasted/grilled baguette slices
Jams, honey, or maple syrup

Below is a board that I made for 2 people. However, you can easily make it larger with more ingredients to feed a crowd. Thank you, Saveur Magazine for the board!


charcuterie board with green crabs
Charcuterie Board

Ingredients:

About 5 oz Aged Goat Gouda (from Holland)
About 4 1/2 oz Truffled Cheddar (from England)
About 3 oz Black Label Cambozola (from Germany)
About 1/2 cup of roasted macadamia nuts
6 thinly slices of pepper salame
6 thinly slices of dry coppa (mild)
6 thinly slices of prosciutto
10 dried mission figs
10 dried dates
5.5 oz of store-bought or home-made pate
2-3 types of crackers
13-15 fried green crabs

Method:

Fry the green crabs in oil until they turn orange-red color and are cooked, about 3-5 minutes depending on the size. Arrange the ingredients according to your style.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thank you

I want to take a moment to thank all of you who supported and voted for me! It was an honor to be a finalist at the Saveur Blog '19 Awards and a wonderful experience to attend this amazing event. A huge thanks to Saveur Magazine and the city of Cincinnati for hosting/organizing all the fun food and drink activities for us. I am grateful to have met so many talented and creative people and new friends!

As soon as I have time I will start to post some photos on Instagram. You may follow greencrabcafe on Instagram!

Please check out the site below for all the nominations and winners.
https://www.saveur.com/winners-2019-saveur-blog-awards/


--Thanh Thai (Green Crab Cafe)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Green Crab Ice Cream

The best part about making my own ice cream is that I can control the amount of sugar that goes in it and I can add just about anything that I want...including green crab roe! Most commercial ice cream here in the US is way too sweet for me, making it difficult for me to enjoy. 

When I was a child living in the hot humid weather of Vietnam I remember that it was a real treat to be driven to the nearby city for ice cream. Each of us would get 3 tiny balls of durian ice cream about an inch in diameter. This may seem child size but that was the only size! Even to this day the size of that ice cream scoop remains the same in that part of Vietnam. I remember the ice cream was not overly sweet but was very creamy with the right balance of durian. If you do not like durian then you are out of luck because that was the only flavor!

This may be the first green crab ice cream recipe in print since these destructive species invaded the US back in the 1800s! As with all of my recipes feel free to adjust the ingredients. You may use either cooked salted green crab roe or unsalted. However, I think the salted roe is tastier and it enhances the overall flavors of the sweet ice cream! If you prefer more roe then add more. The idea to use salted roe came from the Teochew (Chinese) sweet pastry known as "pia". Many of them are made with salted duck egg yolks. For less fat content you may use 2 cups of whole milk and 1 cup of heavy cream. I mixed the chopped roe in during the processing and that resulted in having scattered orange specks with a subtle salty flavor in the ice cream. I prefer to use vanilla beans over the extract but you can use what is affordable and available. I wish I had access to fresh pandan leaves (sometimes known as the vanilla of Southeast Asia) but I have to make do with what I have.

green crab ice cream ready for the freezer

Green Crab Ice Cream (makes about 2 1/2 pints or 5 cups)

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 vanilla bean pod or tsp vanilla extract
1 oz chopped cooked salted green crab roe, cooled

Method:

Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise if using and scrape out the tiny black beans. Add the beans and pod halves to the heavy cream, milk, and sugar in a medium sized pot and turn the heat to medium high. Stir occasionally until just boiling, then turn down heat to a simmer and stir occasionally (to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning) for about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

Whisk eggs in a medium sized bowl, and temper this with the heated liquid. Add vanilla extract if you are not using the bean.

Let the contents cool completely, cover and chill in a refrigerator. Best if chilled overnight. Remove the bean pod halves.

Stir the chilled liquid and salted crab roe and process in your ice cream maker for 30 minutes or according to your manufacturer's instructions.

Pour the ice cream into a container and place in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours or overnight to firm up. Once firm you can start eating.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Saveur Blog '19 Awards

Dear readers,
I am honored that Saveur (food magazine) team has selected my blog as one of the finalists for Saveur Blog 2019 Awards. You may vote for Green Crab Cafe (under Best Special Interest Blog category). You have until Friday, October 18th to vote. Please share with your family and friends and spread the words that we need to eat these invasive green crabs, one by one! Thank you so much for your support!
Best,
Thanh

Vote for Your Favorite Food Blogs in the 2019 Saveur Blog Awards!
https://www.saveur.com/2019-blog-awards-voting/




Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Seafood Risotto

I used a rice cooker to make the rice for this seafood risotto. This may not be the most traditional way to make it but my lazy way is fairly fast and tastes decent! In the past I have made my risotto by gradually adding a ladle of broth into the rice until the liquid was absorbed by the rice and then adding more until the rice is cooked al dente. This time I have no patience so I decided to use my rice cooker. This recipe makes about 6 servings. 

seafood risotto
Seafood Risotto

Ingredients:

2 C of arborio rice
3 to 3 1/2 C Green Crab Stock For Chowders
About 1 Tbsp oil (such as olive or vegetable oil)
1/2 white or yellow medium sized onion, chopped
5 baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 littleneck clams, scrubbed and washed
6 prepared female green crabs, leave the roe intact on the body, roe from carapace removed and set aside
12 large shrimp, peeled, butterflied, and deveined
12 sea scallops, tough muscles removed
5 squid, scored and cut into bite-size or cut into rings
About 10 squid tentacles
About 1/2 C frozen peas, microwaved for about 30-40 seconds, drained
5 chives plants, nipped with scissors or chopped
About 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp fish sauce

Method:

Cook the rice with 2 1/2 cups of stock.

While the rice is cooking heat a large pan with oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until it is soft and translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until they are wilted. Add the clams and crabs, cook until the clams are partially opened, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp, scallops, squid, and squid tentacles. Cook until the shrimp are opaque and curled up (the scallops and squid will take less time). Scatter the roe and cook until they become solid. Stir in rice, peas, and another 1/2 to 1 cup of stock to moisten the rice. At the last 1-2 minutes add chives and season with fish sauce to taste.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Green Crab Stock For Chowders

green crab stock for chowders

Green Crab Stock For Chowders (makes about 4 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

15 prepared green crabs
6 C water
3 young kelps (dried or fresh)
About 10 cilantro stems and 2 cilantro roots
1 small yellow or white onion, peeled, quartered or diced
3-4 slices of ginger, bruised
2 garlic cloves, smashed

Method:

Prepare each crab by removing and discarding the carapace, apron, and gills. Scrub the crabs in a little salt and rinse in cold water, let them drain. Crush the crabs (the finer the crabs are crushed the more flavors the result). Place the crab in a pot and add water, kelp, cilantro stems, cilantro roots, onion, ginger and garlic. Turn the heat to high. Once the liquid starts to boil turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain and save the liquid for cooking.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Rice and Fish Soup (Chao Ca)

rice and fish soup (chao ca)
I grew up eating rice porridge or soup, sometimes refers to as congee, known in Vietnamese as "cháo" or in Teochew as "mue". Sometimes it is simply cooked with just a little rice and lots of water and we (my family and I) would eat this along with salted duck eggs, Teochew omelets, pickled greens or radishes, and/or some salty dishes. Other times it is made with seafood, poultry or meat for a more substantial meal. We consume these soups anytime throughout the day or when we are ill. Many years ago when my husband fell ill after visiting Cambodia my mother made rice soup with ground pork for him to restore his health when we saw her in Vietnam. One time, in between jobs, I stayed with my late grandmother for 3 months in Vietnam. I made her a similar rice and fish soup but with chicken stock. I bought a whole snakehead fish, a popular local fresh water fish at the market. After scaling and gutting it I placed the entire fish in the pot to cook. I removed the fish once it had been cooked, separated the flesh and returned it to the pot. My grandmother complimented that it was very tasty and ate 2 bowls that night. Normally she would eat only 1/2 a bowl of plain rice soup with a small piece of fermented bean curd, a salted olive-like seed or half a salted duck egg in the evening.

For this recipe instead of the green crabs I used Asian shore crabs that I hand-harvested from coastal New Hampshire. They are also an invasive species found in this region of the US but are smaller than the green crabs. The largest I caught measured about an inch across the carapace. These have lots of eggs so my soup has a beautiful yellow orange hue. If you substitute green crabs in this recipe you may use 15-20 adults as they are larger.

Recently I was at the dock crabbing and came across Capt. Ralph and his son docking after a day out at sea. He generously gave me a bag of haddock. Thank you, Capt. Ralph! I ate half that evening and the other half I froze. I thawed them for this recipe as haddock is a great chowder fish. Use as much fish as you prefer. You can use either cooked or uncooked rice. Typically I use leftover rice to make this soup--a way to use old rice and decrease cooking time.


rice and fish soup (chao ca)
Rice and Fish Soup (Cháo Cá)

Ingredients:

45 Asian shore crabs, crushed (the finer the better)
10 cups water
1 yellow or white onion, sliced or chopped
3 dried or fresh young kelp
1 thumb sized ginger, sliced, chopped or julienned
2 garlic cloves, smashed
About 5 sprigs of cilantro stems
1/3 cup uncooked rice
About 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of haddock or cod
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup chopped scallion
Chopped fresh chives or scallions, garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, garnish
Fried shallots, garnish
Freshly ground black or white pepper, garnish

Method:

Place the crushed crabs, water, onion, kelp, ginger, garlic and cilantro in a large pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Scoop out any yellow orange bits (a combination of meat and roe) that float to the top and reserve for the later.

After 30 minutes, strain the broth into another pot. Add rice to the broth. Cook until the rice is soft and enlarged (takes about 30 minutes for uncooked rice). After about 15-20 minutes of cooking add the fish. Once the fish is cooked (it will flake off easily) remove it and separate it into pieces (however small or large you prefer) of flesh and return the pieces back to the pot. Add the yellow orange bits to the pot. About 5 minutes before done add scallion and season with fish sauce.

Serve hot and garnish with chives or scallion, cilantro leaves, fried shallots and ground pepper.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Crab Roe On a Triple Deck

Our neighbors Joyce and Doug planned a neighborhood get together to meet one another. It seems that these days despite being surrounded by many neighbors we are living in isolation. Everyone rushes out to work in the morning and comes home late at night and stays in. The only time we see some of them is during a heavy snowstorm when we are forced to dig out our vehicles. Today's event was a success and we met some wonderful people. Thank you, Joyce for your brilliant idea!

I decided to serve some green crabs. Why not? This IS New England and we EAT seafood here! 😀I am not trying to win votes for anything. I just want to let people know about these invasive green crabs and to provide a very small taste to those interested. About half of the people (ok, maybe less!) tried and the rest just watched those taking a bite! I actually unable to tell if people actually liked it. One of them ate a second piece...maybe he felt obligated since I put it in front of his face!

This recipe calls for 10 small bites but feel free to make more. I steamed the hard shell female green crabs for about 10 minutes. Once cooled I kept them in the refrigerator. I harvested the roe and used for these appetizers. 

crab roe on a triple deck
Crab Roe On a Triple Deck

Ingredients:

10 Ritz crackers (or crackers of your choice)
10 slices of brie (or cheese of your choice)
10 slices of sliced tomato (or cucumber), dabbed with paper towels to remove excess liquid
2 mint leaves (or another herb of your choice), cut into strips, chopped or hand torn
Roe from 8-10 cooked hard-shell female green crabs

Method:

Layer the brie slices, tomato slices, herb and roe on crackers.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Crab Brulee (makes 6 ramekins)

 
crab brulee

I first made non-dairy crème brûlée using strictly coconut milk instead of my normal heavy cream so that my mother can eat it as she is moderately lactose intolerant. The final result turned out creamy; much better and tastier than I had imagined. The term "crab brulee" coined by our friend, Mark Broomer. Thank you, Mark!

I used 1 Tahitian vanilla pod. You may use 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract if you prefer this over the beans.


crab brulee
Crab Brulee (makes 6 ramekins)

Ingredients:

Roe from 8-10 adult female live green crabs
8 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp white sugar (or according to your taste), plus 1 tsp white sugar
14 oz (400 mL) of coconut milk
1 vanilla pod
Boiling water (for bath)
Turbinado sugar (raw sugar), about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per ramekin (or according to your taste and health)
Fresh berries to garnish if interested

Method:

Wash the female green crabs and drain. Remove the roe (eggs) and set aside. Rinse the roe and strain. Remove and discard any dark pieces or any non-roe bits. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the roe. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Boil water (this will be for the water bath), preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium size metal or glass bowl, whisk yolks and 3 tablespoons of white sugar together and set aside.

Shake the coconut milk can, open and pour it in a small pot. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape all the vanilla bean caviar (using the tip of a knife) and add these tiny beans and pod to the pot. Cook over medium high heat. Once the liquid starts to boil turn heat down to a simmer, stir occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Temper the cream and vanilla mixture initially a little at a time (about one ladle at a time) to the bowl with the yolks and sugar, while constantly whisking the contents.

Place 6 ramekins in a casserole dish. Divide each ramekin with the liquid (mixture). Divide the crab roe in each ramekin. Place the casserole dish with the filled ramekins inside the oven. Pour the hot bath water into the casserole dish about 1/3 up to the ramekins. Take care not to burn yourself or pour any water inside the ramekins.

Bake for about 40 minutes, remove the casserole dish and let them cool. Once done the top will resemble a custard instead of liquid.

When ready to eat, sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top of each ramekin and blow torch the top to caramelize the sugar. You may put the ramekins in the oven to broil (for a minute or two) and this will help caramelize the sugar. Keep a close eye on the ramekins while they are in the oven as the high heat will easily burn the sugar instead of caramelize it.

For any that you cannot eat right away you may wrap each ramekin in plastic and refrigerate.

Monday, August 12, 2019

How to Dry Sea Vegetables at Home

How to Dry Sea Vegetables at Home

How do you dry sea vegetables at home without a dehydrator? The process is quite simple. I prefer to spend time initially to clean the sea vegetables to decrease cleaning time later.

I normally wash each strand by running my fingers over it to remove any sand, roots, snails or other ocean debris. After this wash them in cold water several times. You can tie or clip (such as paper clips or clothespins) the end of each strand onto a stick or hanger. It is best that they don't touch but if they do it doesn't matter; they will just take a little longer to dry. You can hang the strands inside or outside your home. In order to eliminate the ocean briny smell from your own home you may prefer to hang them in a garage or outside preferably protected under an umbrella or even a roof. After 1 day of drying in the air and wind you may then bring them inside to hang to complete your drying process. If they are not completely dry the next day you may move them outside to dry another day. Avoid leaving them outside at night since some of the moisture from the air will absorb back into the vegetables. Another great place to dry anything is inside the car. My husband discovered this when he dried self-harvested coffee beans on Maui many years ago! I would let the air and wind partially dry the vegetables until there is no longer any liquid dripping from them then move them into the car to dry. This will prevent your car from having a strong ocean smell. During the winter months the air inside the house tends to be very dry making the drying process easy and quick. During the summer months the humidity level tends to be high. However, if you have an air conditioner and it is on then it will help keep the vegetables dry. Once they are completely dry place them in a glass jar with a piece of desiccant to help remove any extra moisture. I saved the small desiccant pouches from food packages--a great way to recycle them for my sea vegetables!

baby sugar kelp
drying sugar kelp on a hanger under an umbrella
dried sugar kelp

Charcuterie Board

Recently I made a charcuterie board for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner and people seemed to like it so I am making another board using similar in...