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

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Green Crab News

There has been a few green crab news since the release of The Green Crab Cookbook! Thank you!

The Block Island Times:
Green Crabs: Bad for the pond, good for the palate 

Edible Boston:
From Menace to Moeche 

Edible South Shore:
Pinching Back: The Battle Agaist Invasive Crabs
Roger Warner's Simple Green Crab Stock

The Boston Globe:
Green crabs are wreaking havoc on our coastal habitat. So let's eat them.

The New York Times:
Meet a New Crab to Eat












Cabbage and Crab Salad

cabbage and crab salad
Recently I was invited by friends to visit their lake house. One of them asked if I could cook something with green crabs. At first I thought she was just teasing. However, when I learned she was serious I made this dish. This salad is simple, light and you can feed a small crowd. I added store-purchased rotisserie chicken for flavors, texture and protein. You can add as many or as few fried green crabs. The choice is yours and when you serve you can add as many green crabs you prefer for each serving. Most of the green crabs in this dish were softies (soft-shells) and the rest were smaller semi-softies (in between soft and hard). I prepared the crabs, dipped them in a whisked egg and dredged them in seasoned corn flour for a little thicker coating. There were about 8 people who got a taste of this salad and they all enjoyed it.

For the sauce you can adjust the seasoning according to your taste--add extra lime juice if you prefer more acidic, fish sauce if you prefer saltier and sugar if you want it sweeter. You can adjust the seasoned flour to your taste. You can taste the flour after you shift or mix everything. The best way is to fry a small crab with the flour and have a taste. 

The "spicy salad mix" migrogreens (broccoli, kale, kohrabi, arugula, cabbage, and mustard) came from Barker's Farm (my local farm). The fresh edible flowers came from my parents' garden and the romaine lettuce came from my neighbors' (Jim and Karen) garden.

Cabbage and Crab Salad

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken, removed meat and shredded to bite size
About 1 1/2 lb green cabbage, finely shredded
A few romaine lettuce leaves, cut into bite size
1 medium sized carrot, peeled and shredded or julienned
A small handful of assorted herbs (such as cilantro, mint, perilla, Chinese chives, Thai basil or your preference), hand torn or roughly sliced
1 container (about 4 oz) of spicy sald mix microgreens
Vietnamese Seasoned Fish Sauce to taste
About 20 small to medium sized Fried Soft-Shell Green Crabs
Edible flowers of your choice, garnish (optional)

Method:

Gently mix chicken, cabbage, lettuce, carrot, herbs, migrogreens, and season with the sauce. Scatter the fried crabs over the salad and garnish with flowers.

Sunrise Lake, NH (2019)
photo courtesy of my husband, Paul
Since our motor vehicle accident back in September 2018 I am still recovering. The use of my arms and left wrist are limited and I hope in time and with daily physical therapy I will have full use of them again. I was able to use a stand up paddleboard when I visited my friends' lake house and that is a huge accomplishment in the last 11 months! What I learned from all these months of pain and limitation of my body is to have an optimistic attitude--it makes a huge difference in my recuperation.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Crab Salad

crab salad
This summer I am taking full advantage of the freshly picked edible flowers from my parents' organic garden! Choose any greens, herbs and edible flowers that you prefer. The Romaine lettuce came from my neighbors Jim and Karen's garden. I chose several of the largest cooked green crabs and removed their meat. If you have the patience and time by all means add more crab meat. If you have enough crab meat to make crab cakes for this dish that would be even more special! Definitely add the roe if you are lucky to harvest any. These green crabs may be small in comparison to other species but they have the most succulent flesh.

Be sure the fresh flowers you use are all edible and that they have not been sprayed by pesticides. If you are unsure it is best to avoid eating them.

Crab Salad

Ingredients:

7-10 young Romaine lettuce leaves, keep whole or cut into bite size pieces
Meat and roe from 3 largest cooked green crabs
5 small shisho (purple) or perilla leaves
Petals from 1-2 chrysanthemum flowers
Petals from 1 bee balm flower
8-10 borage flowers
5-6 viola flowers
2-3 clusters of mustard flowers, break into smaller clumps
3 cilantro flower clusters
1 squash flower, tear or cut into strips
About 2-3 tsp of olive oil
About 2 tsp glaze balsamic (or balsamic vinegar reduction)

Method:

Arrange the lettuce, crab meat, shisho and flowers on the plate. Drizzle with oil and balsamic.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Fried Crab Salad

This fried crab salad is inspired by my parents and friends' garden. The colorful edible flowers brighten this dish while adding texture and taste. Select the edible flowers that you prefer. Some people may find that the mustard flowers are too bitter but I actually enjoy their flavor. Be sure the fresh flowers you use are all edible and that they have not been sprayed by pesticides. If you are unsure it is best to avoid eating them.

In order to add extra flour coating to the crabs I dip the crabs in a whisked egg before dredging them in the seasoned flour.

fried crab salad

Fried Crab Salad

Ingredients:

5-6 young Romaine lettuce leaves, washed well
1 anchovy, mashed itno small bits
3 Fried Soft-Shell Green Crabs
About 10 borage flowers
About 8 bee balm petals
About 8 marigold petals
About 4 viola flowers
A small handful of cooked corn kernels
About 3 small mustard flower clusters
About 2-3 tsp olive oil
About 1-2 tsp balsamic glaze (or balsamic vinegar reduction)

Method:

Arrange the lettuce, anchovy, and fried crabs on a plate. Scatter the flowers and corn kernels over everything. Drizzle oil and balsamic glaze over the salad.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Quick Prep for Soft-Shell Green Crabs

fried soft-shells
Q: Is there a quick prep for soft-shell green crabs?

A: Yes! You can prepare them minimally by removing just the aprons, mouth piece and gills. Leave everything else intact including the eyes. Wash them well in cold water and drain. 

Coat them in your favorite seasoned flour or batter and deep fry. When I make the softies for myself or family/friends this is what I typically do...unless someone can't bare to look at the crabs' eyes!

For this batch (pictured above) I coated the prepared crabs in an egg mixture then the seasoned flour and deep fried until golden brown. I know they are done once their bodies are stiff.


Green Crab Cafe wishes you and your family a happy and safe Independence Day!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Monkfish and Crab Ceviche

If you eat or make ceviche you know that the seafood is usually "cooked" in an acidic liquid such as lime or lemon juice. However, this ceviche is made with steamed monkfish and green crab roe. This is a dish to make if you do not want to eat any raw seafood. If you cook with monkfish you may have noticed an occasional 1-inch string-like worm here and there--which is quite common according to my fisherman friend, Captain Ralph MacDonald of New Hampshire. They are harmlesss when the fish is cooked. When you make this you can adjust the ingredients and season with acid and salt according to your preference and taste. This colorful and delicious ceviche dish makes a great appetizer for a small crowd of 6-8.

This week Dr. Gabriela Bradt of UNH consulted with me to make something using green crabs and fish of the week which happens to be monkfish. She brought this ceviche dish, fried rice and fried soft-shell green crabs to the Farmers' Market in Exeter, New Hampshire for the market customers to sample. She tells me the items were a hit. She and her interns were able to sell some female hard-shell green crabs for those who want to try making ceviche at home with the roe. Dr. Bradt is a pioneer in selling green crabs and bringing green crab prepared foods to the Farmers' Market in the US! It is never easy selling new ingredients, let alone invasive species to the public but today she did it...and some of those brave customers get to experiment with a new food ingredient! This is a remarkable week in green crab history for New Hampshire and the US!

monkfish and crab ceviche

Monkfish and Crab Ceviche

Ingredients:

About 1 1/2 lbs monkfish, steamed until opague and tender, diced
About 20-25 female green crabs, steamed and roe removed
1 whole sweet corn, steamed and cut off the kernels
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
About 1/8 small red onion, thinly sliced and cut in half, soaked in cold water
About 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
About 2 Tbsp finely chopped scallion, green parts only
Zest from 1 lime
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lime
Juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Method:

Cut the monkfish lengthwise into thinner pieces to cook faster. Steam the fish until it is opaque and you can easily pierce the thickest part of the fish with a fork. Let it cool and dice or cut into small bite size.

Steam the crabs for about 10 minutes. Let them cool and remove the roe.

In the last 3-4 minutes of steaming the crabs add the corn to steam. Remove once cooked and slice off the kernels.

Soak the red onion slices in cold or ice water for about 15-20 minutes. Remove and squeeze out the water. This will help eliminate a strong onion taste.

In a large glass bowl add cut fish, roe, corn kernels, peppers, onion, cilantro, scallion, zest, juices and salt to taste. Gently mix all ingredients and adjust the acidic juices and salt as needed.

Helpful Hints:

*You may make this ahead of time but do not mix the cilantro, scallion, juices and salt until about an hour before you are ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fried Rice

This is an easy dish to make and you can easily adapt it using any type of protein that you prefer. You can even mix different types of meat with seafood such as chicken and fish or shrimp. My mother often makes a delicious batch using chicken, shrimp and Chinese sausage. In this recipe I use monkfish. The beauty about monkfish is that it does not flake or break into small bits when cooked. I used a bag of frozen mixed vegetables for convenience but you can choose any fresh or frozen vegetables that you prefer. This mixed vegetables consist of peas, corn, carrots, green beans and lima beans.

I normally cook my rice in water but for this recipe I use green crab stock for extra flavoring. This time I simmer the stock for 30 minutes for a richer stock. Generally the liquid ratio to the uncooked rice is based on your preference of how dry or wet you want your cooked rice to be, the age of your uncooked rice, and the type of uncooked rice you use. I made my long-grain jasmine white rice a day ahead, fluffed the cooked rice with chopsticks and kept it in the refrigerator after it has been cooled. This way the rice will be a little drier. In my family we make fried rice using leftover rice. 

I always wash my rice in water to remove some of the starch and any non-rice items before I cook it. In the rural part of Vietnam some of the grains are dried outside, sometimes along the road (aka Highway 1). I remember my late grandmother looking through the rice before she cooked and removed non-rice items such as insects, tiny pebbles, or rice husks. Luckily here in the US the purchased rice is often very clean and you can skip this step. You can add either salted or unsalted green crab roe. I prefer the salted crabs but that's because I have some in my kitchen. If you have soft shell crabs you can fry some and garnish your dish.

fried rice
Fried Rice

Ingredients:

3 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
2 1/2 cups Simple Green Crab Stock
1 oz Salted Green Crab (Ba Khia) roe, chopped
2 Tbsp canola oil (or another type of your choice)
1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
1/2 lb monkfish tail, cut into small bite size
12 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables (or cut your own)
4 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/2 to 1 tsp ground black or white pepper

Method:

Cook the rice in stock. After it is cooked, fluff it with a fork and let it air dry to cool.

Steam the Salted Green Crab (Ba Khia) for about 8-10 minutes and remove the roe once the crabs are cooled. Set the roe aside.

Heat a large non-stock wok or pan and add oil. Once the oil is hot add onion. Saute the onion until translucent and soft. Add monkfish and saute until it is just cooked or opague. Remove from the wok or pan and set aside. Strain and discard any liquid before using.

Rinse the vegetables and strain if using frozen. Using medium high heat stir in the vegetables in the same wok or pan and add soy sauce and tomato paste. Mix everything well and once the vegetables are cooked gradually add a little of rice. Blend the rice in with the rest of the ingredients. Continue to add more rice until all of the rice is in the pot. Try to blend all the rice in well so there will be no white rice left. Stir in roe, scallion and pepper. Mix everything well. Turn off heat after the roe and scallion are heated through or the scallion is just cooked.

fried rice with sea scallops and steamed vegetables

Friday, May 24, 2019

Sugar Kelp Salad

This is a simple sea vegetable salad inspired by the many Japanese restaurants across the US. Usually the greens are an unnatural but pretty neon green due to food coloring. In this recipe I am using fresh organic tender baby sugar kelp from aqua farmer Catherine Puckett based out of Block Island (Rhode Island). Catherine also raises oysters and traps green crabs. You may contact Catherine directly via email oysterwench@aol.com or call her at 401-741-2023.

In order to clean the fresh sugar kelp this is my method. I glide each strip of kelp with my fingers to remove any ocean debris. Rinse all of them several times in more cold water. For this salad I cut each into strips about 6-8 inches long, stack the strips on top of each other, roll them up and cut them with either scissors or a knife to create approximately quarter inch thin strips. Next blanch the strands in boiling water for about a minute. For the stems I keep them in the boiling water for 5 minutes to help tenderize them further. After this strain, rinse them in cold water and let them drain in a colander to remove as much of the liquid as possible. 

Recently I met my husband's PhD advisor, Professor Dinesh O. Shah and his family. Dr. Shah is a brilliant, friendly, kind and energetic man in his 80s who still advises doctoral students in India despite being retired from the University of Florida. He tells me his students are like his family. It is not surprising that students, colleagues, and people from his former village in India all revere him. The village where he grew up honored him with a beautiful grand procession and a road dedication named after him! Check out Dr. Dinesh O Shah Road Dedication Ceremony in Kapadwanj, India!

When we visited him and his family we were invited to a special vegan meal! Dr. Shah's son recently switched to vegan from vegetarian and he did it "cold turkey". I am pleased to see that he seems to be adjusting quite well! Most of them are vegan except for one grandson who is vegetarian. What is the difference between a vegan versus a vegetarian? The vegan eaters cannot consume any products from animals/insects such as cheese, milk or honey. Vegetarian eaters can consume these products. In my Teochew culture there are days during the year when some family members eat vegan food but usually only for a day, on certain religious days.

This dish is vegan but feel free to make it non-vegan by adding cooked meat and/or other seafood such as green crab roe/meat, scallops, shrimp, crayfish, lobster, octopus, and squid. You may use various assortment of sea greens if they are available for texture, presentation and taste. I add the red onion slices for color and flavors but you may certainly omit them. This recipe makes 1-2 servings.

sugar kelp salad

Sugar Kelp Salad

Ingredients:

2 1/2 oz fresh baby sugar kelp, cut into approximately 1/4 inch x 6 inch strips
A few thin slices of red onion
1 blade of scallion, green parts only, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp ginger, grated (may use juice only if you prefer less ginger flavor)
1 tsp garlic, grated
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp crushed sea salt
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp white sesame seeds

Method:

Blanch the cut kelp in boiling water for about a minute, keep the stems in for 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water. Slice the onion thinly and place the slices in cold water for about 10-15 minutes. Squeeze out the water prior to using.

In a bowl mix scallion, oil, soy, vinegar, ginger, garlic and salt until well blended. Add the blanched kelp, onion slices and seeds. Toss everything to mix well. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.

sugar kelp salad

Pasta with Kelp and Periwinkles

If you have been following my blog you may have noticed that lately I have started to add some recipes on sea vegetables. Moving forward I will be adding new sub-sections labeled "sea vegetables" and "periwinkles". This recipe has all three ingredients--green crabs, sea vegetables, and periwinkles. It makes 2 generous servings. You may garnish the dish with freshly ground black or white peppers and cheese of your choice.

pasta with kelp and periwinkles

Pasta with Kelp and Periwinkles

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (3 1/2 oz) cooked periwinkle meat, washed and drained
8 oz penne or another pasta of your choice, cooked according to package insert
About 1 Tbsp oil (vegetable or another of your choice)
About 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
A few slices of red or white onion (more or less depending on your preference)
4 fresh baby sugar kelp, washed and cut into approximately 6 inch x 1/4 inch strips
1/2 cup half and half or coconut milk
1/2 cup, plus about 1/3 cup Simple Green Crab Stock
1 small bunch of scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce (or according to your taste)

Method:

Boil the periwinkles about 5-6 minutes and drain. Once the shells are cooled to handle remove the meat and reserve. Cook the pasta according to the package's instructions, drain and set aside. Heat a pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot add oil then garlic and onion. Saute about a minute or until the garlic is slightly golden. Add kelp, periwinkle meat, half and half, and 1/2 cup of stock. Once the liquid starts to boil turn heat down to let the liquid simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the pasta, the rest of the stock (1/3 cup), scallions and season with fish sauce. Saute to coat everything and remove from heat once the pasta is heated thoroughly.

kelp, periwinkle meat, half and half, crab stock

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 sp...