Sunday, September 16, 2018

Temporarily Off Duty

Dear Readers,

Due to an auto accident, I am unable to trap, cook or write about green crabs. In the meantime I will work hard to get better, and I look forward to sharing more green crab stories with you in the future.

Best regards,
Thanh Thai
(remember to always please wear a seatbelt when in a car!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Green Crab Sandwich

Removing meat from the green crabs is a feasible task but it is definitely not a job for everyone. Please check out my link on How to Remove the Meat and Roe from a Cooked Crab. Recently Dr. Gabriela Bradt graciously gave me nearly 300 crabs including about 40 large crabs from her lab and traps. Somehow I had a strange notion that she was delighted (if that is even the right word) that I was willing to haul her crabs away! Within 24 hours I prepared most of them and stored them in the freezer in bags for future use. For some of the larger ones I removed the meat to make 2 open-faced sandwiches. 

When we first immigrated to the United States in 1980 my mother came up with this butter sauce which I dubbed, My Mother's Secret Butter Sauce. Although by now it is no longer a secret! I think it was my mother's way of helping her family become acclimated to the American ways of life, food and culture. I honestly believe that just about everything tastes better with fish sauce! Try it for yourself, instead of salt just add fish sauce. In my family we use this delicious sauce (sometimes with moderation and sometimes not) to dip or drizzle over our lobsters, crabs, steamers and other seafood. Check out My Ultimate Maine Lobstah Rolls on how I used this sauce on lobsters. When my mother, brothers and I make this we never measure the ingredients. For convenience, we put all the ingredients together in a small bowl and microwave about 15-20 seconds or until the butter melts.

green crab sandwich

Green Crab Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 hamburger buns, toasted
About 2-3 oz of freshly picked green crab meat, roe and crab mustard
My Mother's Secret Butter Sauce (see recipe below)
Flowers from Thai basil and shiso plants, garnish (optional)

Method:

Toast the buns. Divide the crab meat, roe and crab mustard and add over the buns. Drizzle with the butter sauce and garnish with flowers.

my mother's secret butter sauce
  
My Mother's Secret Butter Sauce

Ingredients:

About 3 Tbsp unsalted or salted butter
About 1/2 tsp good fish sauce
About 1/2 tsp sugar
About 2 Tbsp chopped scallions (green parts only)

Method 1:

May put everything together in a bowl and microwave for about 15-20 seconds or until the butter is melted. Stir to blend.

Method 2:

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Once the butter has melted add fish sauce, sugar and scallions. Cook until the butter has melted. Adjust the heat if needed to melt the butter.

Helpful Hints:

*You may adjust the sauce according to your taste. You may add more scallions if you prefer more greens. Depending on the power of your microwave you may start low at 10-15 seconds and work up to melt your butter.

Grilled Oysters

The other day our friends/neighbors Jim and Karen invited a few of us over to their house for a cookout on their deck. Luckily I was able to purchase a bag of fresh oysters from my local market. I made shooters on the half shell (minus the crab meat) with most of them, adding just a little cocktail sauce, a squeeze of lime, a dash of hot sauce and vodka. Everyone seemed to really enjoyed them. Our friend/neighbor Carlos gave me a nice compliment when he tells me they tasted as good as in any high-end restaurants. My husband tells me they tasted good, even better and easier to eat than the shooters in a glass that I made a few posts earlier. He thinks everything blended well when they are on the half shell. A few of them did not have any of their natural liquid in them so I added olive oil, minced onion and vodka and grilled them. In Vietnam people often grill (using charcoal) shellfish by adding chopped scallion or green onion and oil.

This time I am inspired to grill some oysters to use up some of my beautiful coral color green crab roe. I was able to gather 3 bags of fresh oysters from my local market. We invited our friends/neighbors Inge and Marshall over for a little last minute grill on our shady deck despite 90+ F outside. We ate most of the oysters fresh with a little lime juice and I saved the rest to experiment on the grill. On a few of the grilled ones I added fresh hot chili peppers for a little kick since Marshall and I like spicy food. The secret to spicy foods is that it helps you sweat and cool you down! The garlic, shallots and chili peppers came from my parents' garden. Inge brought over a few different opened bottles of chilled white wine and I chose the Chardonnay to drizzle over the oysters. You may use whichever type of alcohol you prefer or have at home. Here is the recipe.

these oysters are prepared and ready to place on the grill
grilling oysters
Grilled Oysters

Ingredients:

8 oysters with liquid
1 blade of fresh scallion (green parts only), chopped or cut with scissors
1 garlic clove, grated or smashed and minced
1/2 medium sized shallot, minced
Cooked green crab roe (use as much or as little as you prefer or have)
Hot chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
About 1 Tbsp oil (I prefer either canola or olive)
About 3 Tbsp white wine (or another type of alcohol such as sake, rum, tequila or vodka)

Method:

Shuck the oysters and remove/discard any shell bits. Add a little chopped scallion, garlic and shallot. Add some of the crab roe. May add a little chili pepper if interested. Drizzle with a little oil and white wine (about 1 teaspoon of wine for each oyster). Grill until they are cooked to your preference. The oysters do not have to be cooked completely since they may be eaten raw. Use tongs to carefully remove the oysters from the grill.

oysters on the half shell with a squeeze of lime
(aka naked oysters)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Oyster on the Half Shell

After making the Oyster and Crab Shooter I realized that I cannot gulp it down since the vodka is too strong for me. I have to trust my husband's opinion when he tells me they are tasty. While making oyster on the half shell I came up with the idea to make something similar but instead of vodka I used sake, a more mild alcohol

Anyone can shuck oysters. Initially you may be slow but over time you will improve and gain speed. I know this because I am probably the slowest shucker out there. In the last few weeks after shucking several dozen I noticed that my skills have improved greatly. I purchased these beautiful oysters at my local market. They came from Duxbury, Massachusetts.

If you are interested in learning more about the European green crabs you may find marine ecologist Dr. Emily Grason's talk educational and helpful. She gave an excellent webinar on how they impact our environment negatively and also how to properly identify them. Please check out this link, First Detector Training Webinar: Capturing invasive European green crab at the earliest stages of invasion

oyster on the half shell
oyster on the half shell

Oyster on the Half Shell

Ingredients:

Fresh oysters, washed well
Cocktail sauce (commercial or home-made)
Sriracha sauce
Green crab meat and roe (see How to Remove the Meat and Roe From a Cooked Crab link)
Sake (whichever brand you prefer to drink)

Method:

Shuck the oysters, avoid spilling the juice. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of cocktail sauce and 1-2 drops of sriracha sauce on each oyster. Add about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crab meat (and roe if you have any) on top and drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of sake over each oyster.

my husband prefers a little squeeze of lime on top

Friday, August 31, 2018

Oyster and Crab Shooter

Are you are fan of oyster shooters? If you are then perhaps you may be interested in adding a little green crab meat for something a bit more special. I am not a fan of shooters since the vodka is way too powerful for me. One lick of this potent liquor and I am buzzing! I am going to end your happy hours (and probably end your visit to my blog too) by reminding you that if you fill your small shot glass of vodka which may be 1 1/2 US fluid ounces or 3 tablespoons--constitutes to one standard drink. For this recipe I use about a tablespoon of Absolut vodka. However, you may use whichever brand you prefer. It is best if you can purchase fresh oysters and shuck them yourself. This way you can ensure their freshness. Layer in the ingredients however you prefer but this is how I make mine. Cheers and eat more green crabs!

oyster and crab shooter
Oyster and Crab Shooter

Ingredients:

About 1 tsp cocktail sauce (commercial or home-made)
1 whole raw oyster and its juice, freshly shucked
A dash of sriracha sauce
About 1/2 Tbsp cooked green crab meat (see How to Remove the Meat and Roe From a Cooked Crab link)
A few drops of lime juice
About 1 Tbsp of vodka

Method:

Add 1/2 tsp of cocktail sauce in the glass. Layer with an oyster and its juice then the rest of the cocktail sauce and sriracha sauce. Next add in the crab meat, a drizzle of lime juice and then vodka. Cheers!

Addendum:
Here is another way to make the shooters. My husband prefers this natural style. Shuck the oysters (avoid spilling the oyster liquid), add a dollop of cocktail sauce, a few drops of hot sauce, some cooked crab meat, a few squirts of lime juice and a generous drizzle of vodka over each oyster. Enjoy!

oyster shooters

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Scallop and Crab Ceviche

Living near the coast has many advantages. One is having access to fresh off-the-boat scallops from Mike Anderson, my local fisherman. I usually purchase a 5 pound bag and portion them out in 6-8 ounce bags and keep them in the freezer to enjoy until the next scallop season. These are the only scallops that I would purchase and eat raw.

Scientist/researcher Dr. Gabriela Bradt has been graciously giving me green crabs from her lab. Today I finally visited her lab. It is located in a serene and beautiful estuarine in Durham, New Hampshire. She gave me a huge cooler full of crabs from her traps and some large ones from her tanks (lab). The gracilaria (seaweed) also came from her. Thank you!

 Durham, New Hampshire
I enjoy making and eating ceviche since it is easy to make, requires almost no cooking and it is delicious. Generally, ingredients that are readily available to me typically dictate what goes in my ceviche for that day. As with all my recipes feel free to add/omit and adjust the ingredients according to your taste. I love to serve these appetizers in clear martini glasses for a prettier presentation. 

Please check out this link on How to Remove the Meat and Roe From a Cooked Crab. Two ounces of crab meat came from 7 cooked largest green crabs.

scallop and crab ceviche
Scallop and Crab Ceviche

Ingredients:

6 oz sea scallops, tough muscles removed, diced each into 4-6 pieces
2 oz cooked green crab meat (save any roe for garnish)
4 slices (about 1/4 inch thick) English cucumber, diced same size as scallop pieces
A few thin slices of red onion, soaked in cold water for about 5 minutes, squeezed out some water
Gracilaria (seaweed), blanched, drained, roughly chopped (about 1 Tbsp)
Red and green hot chili peppers (as much or as little as you prefer), deseeded, finely chopped
About 5 mint leaves, julienned (about 2 tsp)
About 5 Thai basil leaves, julienned (about 2 tsp)
About 5 blades of chive, chopped (about 2 tsp)
Juice from 1/2 a lime (about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
About 1/4 tsp crushed sea salt

Method:

Add scallops, crab meat, cucumber, onion, gracilaria, peppers, mint, basil, chives, and juice in a bowl. Season with salt and gently mix well. Divide into 2 portions. Garnish with a little roe if interested. Serve immediately.

Helpful Hints:

*Blanch the gracilaria in boiling water for about 7-10 seconds.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Remoulade

This remoulade (sauce) makes a nice dip for seafood, meat and vegetables. It is also tasty as a spread in seafood sandwiches such as po' boys.


remoulade
my fisherman's platter with remoulade
(fried soft-shell green crabs, fried oysters, fried prawns, fried clams,
fried scallops, fried chicken wings, lightly steamed sugar snap peas,
grape tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, carrot, and shishito peppers)

Remoulade (makes about 1 cup)

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp paprika (preferably sweet kind)
2 tsp mustard
1 large garlic clove, grated (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 Tbsp capers, minced
2 slices of Sweet Bread & Butter Chips (pickles), chopped (about 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp Sweet Bread & Butter Chips (pickles) juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp minced onion or shallot

Method:

Mix all ingredients, cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Green Crab Po Boy

My husband and I have always enjoyed our visits to New Orleans. We would explore the city on foot all day--admiring the historic architecture, feasting on fresh seafood and delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine and occasionally stopping for a drink outside at one of the cafes. We then stay up past our bedtime soaking in the nightlife--watching the crowds and listening to the energetic live music. The next day we would get up and do it all over again!

One of the sandwiches that I particularly like to eat is known as a po' boy (also poor boy). They are stuffed with various fillings. The ones that I prefer is deep-fried seafood. One year I had the tastiest oyster po' boy--deep-fried succulent oysters, nicely blended sauce, just enough shredded lettuce and tomato slices for a flavorful and satisfying sandwich. Unfortunately I was not able to get that same po' boy again despite returning to the same establishment. 

Here is my version of a po' boy made from the soft-shell green crabs that were given to me by scientist/researcher, Dr. Bradt (thank you!). Have I mentioned that I secretly love the fact that I get to eat lab crabs without working or stepping foot in an actual scientific lab?! I toast my roll by frying the interior with a little butter in a skillet until golden (to prevent it from getting soggy and for extra flavors), spread some chilled remoulade (sauce) on the inside and layer on the deep fried crabs, finely shredded lettuce and tomato slices. Now this is one special po' boy that I know I will not find (at least for now) in the Big Easy!

green crab po boy

Green Crab Po Boy

Ingredients:

Remoulade (see recipe below)
About 1 1/2 cup finely shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, thin slices
2 Hoagie Rolls or Split Top Rolls, sliced lengthwise about 3/4 of the way leaving a hinge
6 fried soft-shell green crabs (see Fried Soft-Shell Green Crabs link)

Method:

Make the remoulade, cover and keep refrigerated. Shred the lettuce and slice the tomato, cover and keep refrigerated. Heat a skillet and melt a pat (about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon) of butter. Slice the rolls lengthwise about 3/4 of the way, leaving a hinge so the 2 halves remain attach. Fry the rolls with the interior facing the bottom of a skillet. Once the interior is golden remove from heat and set aside. Fry the crabs, follow the directions for Fried Soft-Shell Green Crabs.

Spread some of the remoulade (as much as you prefer) on both sides of the interior of each roll. Layer on the tomato slices, lettuce, fried crabs and more lettuce. Serve while the crabs are still hot and crispy.

Helpful Hints:

*If you prefer more corn flour on your crabs then coat the crabs in a whisked egg, shake off excess egg and place them in the mixed corn flour. For this po' boy recipe, I prefer the crabs to have a little extra flour.
*You may use a plate, a bag or a container for the mixed flour. A bag or a container will make it less messy and help with a quicker clean up later.
*The green crabs may have enough natural salt. If you are on a low sodium diet or prefer to eat less salt then you may want to omit the salt in the flour.
*I was able to purchase these long rolls from my local market. They are labeled as Split Top Rolls from Fantini Baking Co. from Haverhill, Massachusetts. 


remoulade
Remoulade (makes about 1 cup)

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp paprika (preferably sweet kind)
2 tsp mustard
1 large garlic clove, grated (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 Tbsp capers, minced
2 slices of Sweet Bread & Butter Chips (pickles), chopped (about 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp Sweet Bread & Butter Chips (pickles) juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp minced onion or shallot

Method:

Mix all ingredients, cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How to Prepare Hard-Shell Green Crabs

My method of preparing hard-shell green crabs may sound time-consuming but I find that it is a better process to get the most out of my crabs. Part of my process is to clean the crabs by removing mud and sand, even though ingesting a little on occasion is not harmful to most people. The other essential part is the removal of the yellow-orange caviar (roe) and/or crab mustard, if there is any. The crab mustard is the hepatopancreas, a filtering organ found in crabs and lobsters. These innards do sound toxic to ingest and probably are but for some people they are a delicacy.

My process of cleaning the hard-shell crabs is quite similar to preparing the soft-shell ones. The only major difference is removing the entire carapace in order to to get to the yellow-orange matter. The hard-shell crabs are much stronger and faster than the soft-shell ones so you need to work a little faster and apply some pressure when removing the carapace. I remove the following parts with my fingers but you can use scissors with pointy tips--carapace (dorsal shell), the gills on each side of the body, the pointy ends of the legs, the V-shaped apron on the abdomen and mouth parts. Scoop out the yellow-orange innards and reserve it in a separate bowl. For me, the best way to remove the most of the innards is to use a pointy flat knife. They are found in the interior of the carapace and on the middle of the body just underneath the carapace. Once these tasks are complete rub a little salt on the prepared crabs, rinse them in cold water, strain and place them in a clean bowl or pot to be used. Save the scooped out roe and crab mustard and keep them refrigerated until ready to be used.

green crabs
lift up with one thumb just under one side of the carapace while
holding onto the belly with the other hand and push
with that thumb (while applying some pressure)
to separate the entire carapace
separating the carapace from its body
carapace and crab body
pull out the mouth parts and discard
pull out the gills on each side of the body and discard
ventral view (belly side)--mouth parts, apron, pointy legs
break off the pointy walking legs and discard
use scissors or a knife to life up the apron, pull it off and discard
remove the roe and crab mustard found on the middle of the body and save
remove the roe and crab mustard from the interior of the carapace and save
prepared crabs with roe and crab mustard
crab roe and crab mustard--rinsed in cold water and strained
Helpful Hints:

*If you are planning on crushing the crabs then you may keep the point legs intact to save time. Removing them makes no difference in your stock.
*In my family we clean the prepared seafood with a salt rub (about 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon) and then rinse with cold water several times to remove the salt. You can also do the same by using vinegar (about 2-3 tablespoons) to wash then rinse with cold water immediately. Do not allow the seafood to soak in the salt or vinegar as it will change their taste and texture.
*When preparing the crabs you may want to wear gloves to prevent injury. I find that wearing 2 layers of the exam gloves to be most helpful when cleaning the crabs. You may purchase these exam gloves at your local pharmacy store.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Salt and Pepper Crab (Cua Rang Muoi)

Salt and pepper crab known as cua rang muối in Vietnamese is one of the popular dishes in Vietnam, and typically made with much larger crabs. According to my mother the poor people in Vietnam make this dish using the rice paddy crabs or rice-field crabs. The entire body is eaten whole but not the legs or claws as they are generally too tough. When making this using green crabs it is best to eat only the center part of the body that has the flesh and cartilage. The legs and claws may be too hard to ingest whole. This dish tends to be a little more salty than normal and it is consumed along with plain steamed rice and extra vegetables. I served the crabs over a bed of red cabbage and fresh mint salad. For this recipe I prefer to use smaller green crabs, those less than 1 1/2 inches across the carapace.

salt and pepper crab (cua rang muoi)

Salt and Pepper Crab (Cua Rang Muoi)

Ingredients:

35 small (1 to 1 1/2-inches) green crabs, prepared, washed, drained
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black or white pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp sugar
Oil for deep frying
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1/3 cup chopped green scallions
1 large garlic clove, peeled, finely grated
3/4 tsp Salt and Pepper Seasoning (see recipe below)

Method:

Prepare the crabs as usual but leave the roe and crab mustard (orange and yellow matter) intact in the bodies. Remove and discard the carapace, gills, eyestalk, mouth piece, apron, intestine, and pointy distal legs. To clean the crabs sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of salt to the prepared crabs and gently rub them. Rinse in cold water 2-3 times to remove the salt. Let them drain in a strainer.

Use a 1-gallon bag or a large container with a lid, mix cornstarch, salt, pepper, turmeric powder, and sugar. Shake the bag or whisk the contents in the container to mix all ingredients. Add the prepared crabs in the bag or container. Shake to coat the crabs with seasoned flour. Heat the oil until it is around 350 to 375 degrees F. May test the oil by dropping in a leg. If the leg sizzles and fries quickly then the oil is hot and ready. Add about 5 crabs at a time to the oil. Fry until they are golden, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes and remove them onto paper towels to remove excess oil.

In a large pan or wok add about 2 teaspoons of oil. Once the oil is hot add onion, scallions, and garlic. Saute about a minute or until the onion is cooked to your preference. Add the fried crabs. Add a little of the Salt and Pepper Seasoning in at a time. Stir and add more of the seasoning. Repeat this process until the seasoning has been used up. Serve over a bed of Cabbage and Mint Salad (see recipe below).

Salt and Pepper Seasoning

Ingredients:

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black or white pepper
1/4 tsp sugar

Method:

Mix all ingredients.

Cabbage and Mint Salad

Ingredients:

About 1/2 small red cabbage, finely shredded
10-15 large fresh mint leaves, julienned
Juice from 1/2 fresh lime

Method:

Mix all ingredients right before serving.

Helpful Hints:

*Generally I would add a little salt and pepper to this salad but since the crabs already have plenty of salt and pepper I omit them for this post. Add more or less mint if interested.

Temporarily Off Duty

Dear Readers, Due to an auto accident, I am unable to trap, cook or write about green crabs. In the meantime I will work hard to get bette...