Monday, December 31, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Happy Holidays!


Any day is a great day to eat green crabs...however, now is the most wonderful time of the year to start eating more green crabs! If you have never tried them I urge you to start today! If this is a new ingredient for you I recommend making a crab stock and use it alone or combine it with another stock such as chicken, turkey, pork, lobster or clam to make umami-rich (green crab umami) chowders, soups, curries, paella, risotto, gumbo, and an endless list of other exciting dishes. Just allow your imagination to take over your kitchen...you may be surprised at what scrumptious concoction you stew up!

sea scallops from Rimrack Fish & green crab umami sauce

The 2018 hardcover Green Crab Cookbook is out this January! This book is for crab lovers and those who have a curiosity about green crabs. This book will have recipes & in depth tutorials. Please check out the link to order. https://www.greencrab.org/shop/. All the proceeds will go to The Green Crab R & D Project. The Green Crab R & D is a group of scientists and activists committed to developing a fishery and market for the invasive green crab.

Green Crab Cafe would like to wish you and your family a very happy holiday season! May you and your family stay happy, healthy and eat more green crabs!

And thank you for visiting my blog (even if you stumbled on this by accident)! đŸ˜€

Warmest regards,

Thanh Thai
Green Crab Cafe

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Seafood and Kimchi Soup

My mother made this soup while she stayed with me during my recovery. She placed the partially thawed prepared green crabs in a few clean plastic bags and crushed them against a cement block using a rock from my garden. She agrees that this method works much better as opposed to crushing them with a blender.


my mother hand crushing the crabs
This soup is made with kimchi that I fermented months ago. They are more sour than the freshly made kind. You may purchase kimchi at your local markets. The mixed seafood package is from my local grocery market and found in the frozen section. Once opened you can rinse them in a strainer and add to the soup. If the mixed seafood has been previously cooked then it does not take long to reheat them. I find that this soup tastes even better the next 1-2 days!

seafood and kimchi soup

Seafood and Kimchi Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb prepared hard shell green crabs (about 20 adult crabs)
7 cups cold water
1 lb seafood mix, rinsed in cold water, strained
About 1 1/2 to 2 cups kimchi (home-made or store bought), cut into bite size
1 container of soft tofu (about 12 oz), cut into bite size
1 scallion, green parts only, chopped or cut into 1/2 or 1 inch lengths
2 Tbsp fish sauce (nước mắm)
1 Tbsp chicken stock powder

Method:

Place the crabs into 2-3 layers of freezer or plastic bags. Pound the crabs until they are crushed. Add a little cold water (about 1/3 of the water), use a spoon to stir the mixture and use a fine strainer to strain the liquid and the fine crab bits into a pot. Repeat 2 more times until all the water has been used up. Please see links below for tutorial assist.

Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Do not stir. Do not cover the pot. Once the liquid starts to boil the crab bits will float up to the surface in pieces. Let the liquid boils gently for a few minutes (up to about 5 minutes) or until all the pieces are done floating up. Avoid allowing the liquid to boil over. Rinse the seafood mix and add to the pot. Add kimchi, and tofu and stir the pot once. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until everything is heated through. Add scallions and season with fish sauce and chicken stock powder.


Helpful Hints:

*Please see Vietnamese-Style Crab Stock for a tutorial on how to make the stock for this recipe.
*Please see How to Prepare Green Crab for Making Stock for a tutorial on how to prepare the crabs.
*The 7 cups of water will yield about 6 cups of crab liquid.
*If you are to use a blender to crush the crabs then use only the soft crab bodies. Discard the hard carapace, apron, legs, and claws.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Salt-Pepper-Lime Dip

The creamy yellow-orange roe and succulent white flesh from the green crabs are delicacies that you do not want to miss eating. Cook the crabs in boiling water for about 5-7 minutes and remove. Avoid overcooking the crabs as they will become dry and flavorless. You may add fresh guava leaves, fresh kaffir lime leaves, or bruised fresh lemongrass stalks to the water for fragrance if you have access to any of these ingredients. I find that a small thin knife with a pointy tip may be the best tool to scoop out the roe from the interior of the carapace by the spines and on the central part of the body. The meat can easily be removed with a toothpick, skewer or a small knife as these crabs are small. You can do this if you are planning to save the flesh to use for cooking later. However, the ideal way to eat crustaceans such as green crabs, perhaps viewed by some as less formal or even barbaric, is to cut the bodies into 4-6 pieces and simply suck out the sweet juicy meat while everything is still hot. This simple salt-pepper-lime dip, a commonly paired item with some seafood dishes is popular in Vietnam. You may use lemon in exchange for lime. Mix it however you prefer but for simplicity, you can make it 1:1:1 ratio.


salt-pepper-lime dip

Salt-Pepper-Lime Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp salt (any type that you prefer--crushed sea salt or table salt)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp fresh lime juice

Method:

Mix all ingredients and enjoy!


Saturday, November 24, 2018

How to Process Green Crabs Humanely

How to Process Green Crabs Humanely

Many people are concerned about killing a living organism for food such as shellfish more humanely. How do we determine what is humane? Some people may view a quick death as better than a slow drawn out death. Would you slowly freeze a lobster before boiling or steaming it or would you just place a live lobster in a pot of boiling water? For the green crabs it seems that placing them in boiling water will kill them much faster than spearing them with a sharp object through the brain or freezing them. Spearing them may cause you injury and believe me they do not die instantly. Removing the carapace and gills while they are still alive causes them to die nearly as fast as spearing them in the brain. If you believe that freezing them is the most humane way as many seem to think then be sure to freeze them in your home freezer for at least 2 hours before you process or cook them. Of course it all depends on how cold your freezer is. If you are unsure how cold your freezer is then you can start by placing a bag of crabs in your freezer. After 2 hours remove the bag and look inside to check for signs of life =  any hint of movement. If there is none then quickly process or cook the crabs.

One interesting survival instinct of these green crabs (applies to those with hard shells) that I see repeatedly is that they tend to self amputate one or more of their claws and/or legs when they sense stress, threat or danger. Hence, you may notice that when you drop the live green crabs in boiling water they tend to loose part or all their claws and legs. If you freeze them for at least 30 minutes and then drop them in boiling water, their claws and legs tend to remain intact. This indicates the crabs are not stressed and is the most humane way to cook them, and provides you a complete crab for your recipe.

frozen green crab from the freezer
cooked green crab--the most humane way

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Garlicky Crustacean Pasta

I have a lot to be thankful for...

I am extremely grateful that my husband and I survived a major car accident...that we walked out of our crumpled car that day.

Since September 10th I have cooked only a handful of simple dishes...mostly since the beginning of this month. I am still healing...although my body is not 100% yet I am making noticeable progress each week. While on the mend my mother has been staying with us, cooking constantly and before returning to her home she would leave us an abundance of prepared food in the freezer and refrigerator until her next visit. Thank goodness that I have a supportive, loving, and caring supermom. 

This dish is simple and you can make it even if you have only one good hand and a partial use of the other. For this dish I use garlic and shallots grown from my parents' organic garden. My mother already removed the lobster meat and kept them frozen. The roe was previously frozen. I partially thaw them before cooking. This dish makes about 2-3 servings.

garlicky crustacean pasta

Garlicky Crustacean Pasta

Ingredients:

12 oz Squid Ink Spaghetti
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 small head of garlic, smashed, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled, finely chopped
3 oz uncooked green crab roe
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Meat from 2 medium to large lobsters, cut into bit size
2 scallions, green parts only, chopped
2 tsp fish sauce (nước mắm)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
A pinch of dried crushed seaweed, garnish

Method:

Cook the Squid Ink Spaghetti according to the package instructions, drain and set it aside.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, garlic and shallots. Saute for about 2 minutes or until the shallot is soft. Add crab roe, and butter, saute about a  minute. Add lobster meat and scallion, saute about 2 minutes or until the meat is heated through. Add spaghetti and season with fish sauce, sugar and pepper. Once the spaghetti is heated through (about 2 minutes) then turn off heat and serve with a sprinkle of seaweed and more white pepper.

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. I think it was my mother's way of helping our 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. 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 20-30 seconds or until the butter melts.

green crab sandwich

Green Crab Sandwich

Ingredients:

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

Method:

Toast the bun. Divide the crab meat and roe, and add over each half of the bun. Drizzle with the butter sauce and garnish with flowers.

my mother's butter sauce
  
My Mother's Butter Sauce (makes about 1/4 cup)

Ingredients:

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

Method 1:

May put everything together in a bowl and microwave for about 20-30 seconds or until the butter has melted. Stir to blend.

Method 2:

In a small sauce pan add butter, fish sauce, sugar and scallions. Cook until the butter has melted.

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. 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! 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.
*If you are in or near the seacoast of New Hampshire and would like to purchase fresh-off-the-boat sea scallops please contact Rimrack Fish.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Remoulade

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


rémoulade
my fisherman's platter with rémoulade
(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)

RĂ©moulade (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

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 rĂ©moulade (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:

RĂ©moulade (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 rĂ©moulade, 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 rémoulade (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. 


rémoulade
RĂ©moulade (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

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 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 (not necessary if you use are making stock), 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 hard-shell 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. It is best if you can find semi-hard shell ones. 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 muối)

Salt and Pepper Crab (Cua Rang Muối)

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, 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 you are interested.
*Prepare the ingredients for the Cabbage and Mint Salad and set aside in the refrigerator. Once your crabs are just cooked and still hot quickly mix the salad and serve while the crabs are still warm.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Seafood Batter

This batter is made to dip the prepared soft-shell green crabs in and deep fry. However, you can use it for other seafood. For a thinner batter add more beer and a thicker batter use less. This batter should be enough for about 35-40 green crabs. I like adding turmeric but you can omit it. I use an IPA beer because it was available but also for the flavor.


seafood batter

Seafood Batter

Ingredients:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 egg, whisked
1/4 cup cold beer

Method:

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl to blend. Add egg and beer and whisk to blend.

How to Modify a Crab Trap

When my friend, Captain Ralph MacDonald heard that I have an interest in capturing and eating the invasive green crabs he gave me a brand new crab trap and some fish carcases. Thank you Ralph! After inspecting it I quickly realized the spaces between the wires were too wide allowing these tiny crabs to escape. I expressed my idea of finding a material to make the holes smaller to my husband, so we visited our local Home Depot for steel hardware cloth. This post is a DIY on how to modify a store-purchased crab trap to capture the green crabs. You may have a better idea on how to alter the trap but this is what makes sense to me. When working with the wires be careful not to puncture your skin! I was very cautious but ended up pricking myself, fortunately just once with the tiny wire.

This will be my one and only medical or nursing comment about working with wires and harvesting marine animals--be sure your tetanus vaccine is up-to-date. Please have a conversation with your primary care provider if you are unsure. This is a food blog and I will try to answer only questions regarding green crabs, any crab questions I don't have the answer for I will do my best to find it. I will defer all medical and nursing questions to your primary care provider. If you do not have any please find one.

This trap took me several hours to make but it was also my first attempt at this. The whole process was not at all complicated. I basically cut out the panels and attached them to the exterior sides of my trap. The cutting took the most time because I was using a small wire cutter. I cut 2 1/2 to 3 inch length wire pieces (recycled from the wire that came wrapped around the mesh cloth) to secure the panels together. For the edges along the vertical sides of the pyramid I used a long nose pliers to wrap the new exterior sides to the original sides. I avoided wrapping any parts that were adjacent to the center square panel. All of the triangular panels must be able to move quickly and easily (flatten out when the entire trap is on the seafloor and back into a pyramid shape when pulling up on a string or rope). Any pieces of wire that were cut and sticking out I bent them with a long nose pliers to create a dull edge for safety reasons. I find that adding the new exterior sides on the outside of the original sides and wrap the wires inward is safer than having the pieces inside and wrapping out. If you modify your own trap you can decide what works best for you.

I use a soft mesh bag from a recycled clam bag, purchased at a seafood market, to store my bait and tie it to the center of the trap. I don't like waste so every time I return home I untie my bait bag and place the entire bag inside a plastic bag and store it in the freezer for the next crabbing trip. I use the same bait bag with the same bait. I would refresh it by adding 1-2 small new pieces of fish for each trip. On my first attempt I was able to pull up 101 green crabs in 2 hours. The second attempt I got 80 in an hour. The third time I pulled up a record of 103 crabs in an hour. The fourth time and most recent trip I went with scientist/researcher Dr. Bradt and pulled up 42 crabs in 45 minutes. Most of the crabs were roughly from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches. The last batch I was able to get one that was 3/4 inch, the smallest from my trap.

modified crab trap


drop the trap in the water and secure the lines loosely to the dock
look closely and you will see the crabs crawling towards the bait
green crabs

How to Modify a Crab Trap

Supplies:

1 Eagle Claw Star Crab Trap
1 roll of 1/4 in. x 2 ft. x 5 ft. 23-Gauge Galvanized Steel Hardware Cloth
About 2 feet of wires
1 long nose pliers
1 wire cutter
A yardstick (optional)
A marker (optional)
Magnet (optional)

Instructions:

On a flat surface open up the trap and roll out the steel cloth.

supplies
open  up the trap and roll out the steel cloth
Cut a square panel out of the cloth for the bottom (center piece) of the trap, leaving about 1/4 to 1/2- inch extra (on the cut sides) in order to bend the edges of those sides so the cut (sharp) pieces will not stick out and cause you present and future injury. It is always best to cut slightly larger than what you need and then fold in what you don't need. You may use a yardstick and a marker to mark the area (although you may end up putting some of the marker along the yardstick edge permanently) to guide you if needed. The yardstick is not necessary but it may help guide you.

cut out a square piece (for the bottom of the trap)
fold or bend the cut (sharp) edges with a long nose pliers
the bottom part is cut and the edges are not sharp to the touch
Cut the cloth into triangular shapes, again about 1/4 to 1/2-inch larger around the periphery than the original pieces. This way you can wrap the vertical sides along the original sides. For the top (tip) of the pyramid you do not want to close it up entirely. If you happen to do that (which I did) it is OK since you can always cut it out later. For some of the sides I cut the cloth in a straight line instead of following the angle of the triangle because it is quicker and easier. Wrap the edges of the vertical sides tightly along the original sides using a long nose pliers. Be sure that all the sharp edges are pressed tightly inward to prevent injury.

cut the pieces for the vertical sides
(try not to cover the tip of the opening,
if you do it is not a big deal, you can cut out the holes later)

use a long nose pliers and wrap the sides
of the exterior panel tightly to the original trap
fold or bend the cloth to wrap the interior original trap
Cut 2 1/2 to 3-inch wire pieces (may use the same wire that came already wrapping the cloth). Take a piece of wire and make a U shape and loop from the outside (of the trap) to inside the trap to secure the new exterior sides to the original sides. Take the long nose pliers and twist the wire piece to secure tightly. Bend any sharp edges underneath. Make sure nothing sharp is sticking out where it can cause you injury. Repeat this process on all sides of the trap to secure the panels.

cut the wire into 2 1/2 to 3-inch lengths
make a U shape with the cut wire pieces
loop the U shaped wire from the outside in to secure the 2 panels
use a long nose pliers to twist the wire a few times
the tie should look something like this
bend the sharp tips underneath to prevent any injury
Once all the exterior sides are completely secured to the original trap, look carefully for any sharp areas. Use the long nose pliers and bend any sharp pieces inward so they will not stick out and cause injury. Pick up any loose wire pieces from your work area and after the project is complete, properly discard them in the trash. You may use a magnet to help.

pick up any loose wire pieces and put in a container
may use a magnet to assist with this job
if you happen to cover up the triangular side while working on the trap
(see next photo below)
cut out a hole at the top (tip) of the pyramid trap
 in order to loop a rope or bungee cord through later
now the top (tip) of the pyramid trap has openings
for a rope or bungee cord to loop through
When you use your trap be sure to bring a long nose pliers and wire cutter with you in case you need to secure or fix it. Be sure to wash all of your supplies and trap with fresh water after using to prevent rust.

my typical crabbing supplies: a cooler, a bag with fresh water,
paper or cloth towels, extra bait, knife, scissors, long nose pliers,
wire cutter, small bungee cord, and bandaids

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...