Sunday, July 22, 2018

Vietnamese-Style Crab Stock

In Vietnam, rice paddy or rice-field crabs, known as "cua đồng" in Vietnamese exist in the rice paddies or rice fields. They are similar in size as the green crabs found here in the Northeast United States. My parents tell me they cause havoc by eating young rice shoots. I have not found any research that confirms that they actually ingest or simply just cut the young shoots while foraging. People have found a way to catch and eat them to near extinction just like most wildlife in Vietnam, according to my father. My cousins in Vietnam tell me that in recent years there are fewer of these once abundant crabs due to excessive use of pesticide. Although many people including my cousins in Vietnam buy these tiny crabs so they can make the classic Vietnamese crab noodle soup known as bún riêu, but are afraid to eat these freshwater crabs because of the potentially harmful chemicals used. Cousin Khiêm, an inspector for seafood in Vietnam, tells me that due to a demand for these crabs in central and northern parts of Vietnam, people have started to farm them in these regions. He has not seen or heard of anyone farming for them in the southern part of Vietnam. One of my aunts who resides in Los Angeles, California recently sent me a photo of imported frozen rice paddy crabs from Vietnam labeled as"cua đồng" sold in plastic bags in her local Asian markets.

rice paddy in Vietnam
The stock or broth (riêu) is made using a traditional Vietnamese method by hand crushing the crabs to a pulp. Nowadays many people (in Vietnam) purchase the prepared crabs all ground up for convenience. You can use a blender to puree the crab bodies or you can hand pound the crab bodies, legs and claws. If you choose to use a blender you may want to avoid adding the legs and claws since these are tough and may damage your equipment. 
crush the prepared crabs with a heavy object on a stone
add a little water and stir well to help remove any crab bits
strain the liquid
repeat the process 2 more times or until the liquid is more clear

boil the broth until the fine crab meat floats to the surface in pieces
gently scoop and discard the white foam that floats to the surface

Vietnamese-Style Crab Stock

Ingredients:

Green crabs (see How to Prepare Hard-Shell Green Crab link)
Water

Method:

Prepare the crabs by removing and discarding the carapace, gills, and apron. Save the roe and/or crab mustard in a separate bowl to be used later. Discard the legs and claws if you prefer using only the bodies. Wash the prepared crabs with about 1 tablespoon of table salt. Rinse with cold fresh water 2-3 times to remove all the salt and drain off the water. Place the crabs in 1-2 freezer or heavy duty plastic bags and crush everything using either a hammer, stone or a heavy object against something hard such as a stone or brick. For best results add a handful of crabs at a time. Pour the crushed crabs in a pot or container. Repeat the process until all the crabs are crushed. Add a little water (about 1/3 of the total water you are using) to the crushed crabs and stir well to help remove the fine meat bits. Using a fine strainer, strain and filter out the crab meat and liquid. Add a little more water (about 1/2 of the remaining water you are using) to the crushed crabs and repeat the process until all the water is used up. By the 3rd and last time the water will become more clear with less crab bits. Save the strained fine crab bits and crab liquid for cooking. Discard the rest.

In a large pot add the crab bits and crab liquid, turn the heat to medium-high to high. Do not stir and let the broth comes to a gentle boil. Once it boils the fine crab meat will float to the surface in large pieces. Turn the heat down slightly if needed so the liquid does not boil over the pot. After about 4-5 minutes stir once and gently scoop out and discard the white foam (impurities) if interested. Avoid discarding the crab meat. Save the broth and crab pieces for making soups or stews.

Helpful Hints:

*1 pound of prepared green crabs can yield about 6-8 cups of broth. The less water you use will make your broth more concentrated and the more water will dilute your broth.
*The unused crab parts make great fertilizer for your garden. 
*My mother prefers to use only the green crab bodies when she makes this special stock. I use the bodies, legs and claws.

Zucchini Soup

zucchini soup

In Vietnam, rice paddy or rice-field crabs, known as "cua đồng" in Vietnamese exist in the rice paddies or rice fields. They are similar in size as the green crabs found here in the Northeast United States. My parents tell me they cause havoc by eating young rice shoots. I have not found any research that confirms that they actually ingest or simply just cut the young shoots while foraging. People have found a way to catch and eat them to near extinction just like most wildlife in Vietnam, according to my father. My cousins in Vietnam tell me that in recent years there are fewer of these once abundant crabs due to excessive use of pesticide. Although many people including my cousins in Vietnam buy these tiny crabs so they can make the classic Vietnamese crab noodle soup known as bún riêu, but are afraid to eat these freshwater crabs because of the potentially harmful chemicals used. Cousin Khiêm, an inspector for seafood in Vietnam, tells me that due to a demand for these crabs in central and northern parts of Vietnam, people have started to farm them in these regions. He has not seen or heard of anyone farming for them in the southern part of Vietnam. One of my aunts who resides in Los Angeles, California recently sent me a photo of imported frozen rice paddy crabs from Vietnam labeled as"cua đồng" sold in plastic bags in her local Asian markets.

The stock or broth used in this soup is made using a traditional Vietnamese method by hand crushing the crabs to a pulp. Nowadays many people (in Vietnam) purchase the prepared crabs all ground up for convenience. You can use a blender to puree the crab bodies or you can hand pound the crab bodies, legs and claws. If you choose to use a blender you may want to avoid adding the legs and claws since these are tough and may damage your equipment. 

crush the prepared crabs with a heavy object on a stone or hammer
filter out the fine crab meat with a little water and strain

boil the broth until the fine crab meat floats to the surface in pieces
gently remove the white foam
Vietnamese-Style Crab Stock

Ingredients:

Green crabs (see How to Prepare Hard-Shell Green Crabs link)
Water

Method:

Prepare the crabs by removing and discarding the carapace, gills, and apron. Save the roe and crab mustard in a separate bowl to be used later. Gently rub the bodies, claws and legs with about 1 tablespoon of salt. Rinse with fresh water 2-3 times to remove all the salt and drain off the water. Place the crabs in 1-2 freezer or heavy duty plastic bags and crush everything using either a hammer, stone or a heavy object against something hard such as a stone or brick. For best results add a handful of crabs at a time. Pour the crushed crabs in a pot or container. Repeat the process until all the crabs are crushed. Add a little water to the crushed crabs and stir well to help remove the fine meat bits. Using a fine strainer, strain and filter out the crab meat and liquid. Add a little more water to the crushed crabs and repeat the process 2 more times or until most of the crab meat is strained out (the water will become more clear with less crab bits). Save the strained fine crab bits and crab liquid for cooking. Discard the rest.

In a medium sized pot add the crab liquid, turn the heat to high. Do not stir and let the broth comes to a boil. Once it boils the fine crab meat will float to the surface in large pieces. Turn the heat down slightly if needed so the liquid does not boil over the pot. After about 4-5 minutes stir once and gently scoop out and discard the white foam (impurities) if interested. Avoid discarding the crab meat. Save the broth and crab pieces for making soups or stews.

Helpful Hints:

*I use 30 green crabs ranging from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches to make 4 cups of broth for this soup.
*The unused crab parts make great fertilizer for your garden.


prep for soup
julienned zucchini and beans
zucchini flowers

Zucchini Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups of Vietnamese-style Crab Stock (see recipe above)
1 large garlic clove, smashed, peeled
2 large eggs, whisked and placed in a small seal-able sandwich bag
1 tsp oil
1 small shallot, peeled and chopped
2 beans, julienned
1 small zucchini, peeled and shredded or julienned
2 Tbsp chopped scallion
8 zucchini flowers, removed and discarded pistils, sliced
1/4 tsp sea salt (more or less depends on your taste)
1/4 tsp sugar
Fresh crab meat, optional
Freshly ground pepper

Method:

Heat a small pan and add oil. Once the oil is hot add shallot and saute about a minute or until the shallot is soft. Add peas and zucchini. Saute about 30 seconds and remove from heat.

In a medium sized pot add the Vietnamese-style Crab Stock and garlic, turn the heat to high. Do not stir and let the broth comes to a boil. Once it boils the fine crab meat will float to the top in large pieces. Turn the heat down slightly if needed so the liquid does not boil over the pot. After about 4-5 minutes stir once and gently scoop out and discard the white foam (impurities) if interested. Do not scoop out the crab meat that float to the top. Make a tiny cut about 1/8 inch on a corner of the sandwich bag (that has the whisked eggs). Stir the pot in one direction and let the whisked eggs pour out of the corner of the bag into the pot to create string-like texture.

After adding the eggs to the broth then add the sauteed contents, scallion, zucchini flowers and season with salt and salt. Turn off heat.

Serve the broth hot and garnish with fresh crab meat, black or white ground pepper and more zucchini flowers.

Helpful Hints:

*The freshly picked crab meat is Maine's peekytoe crabs. 
*If you like cilantro then garnish with a little chopped cilantro leaves. 
*Instead of salt you may season this soup with fish sauce.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I love the idea of stuffing squash flowers with a filling--either meat, seafood, vegetables or a combination. It is difficult to find these delicate flowers unless you grow your own. These zucchini flowers came from my parents' garden. Once harvested the flowers should be used immediately since they tend to wilt or bruise rapidly. I had to work (in the clinic) so I stored them in a container, lined with paper towels to prevent them from touching each other, and kept them in the refrigerator for 2 days. Luckily for me they appeared in good condition after several days. These Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers are filled with scallops, shrimp and roe from 10 green crabs. You can eat them as they are with your favorite sauce. I prefer eating them on a bed of fresh home-grown garden herbs and vegetables and a drizzle of the Seasoned Black Bean Sauce (Nuoc Tuong). The greens came from my parents' garden. I harvested the crabs using my own modified pyramid trap.

fried stuffed zucchini flowers with home-grown garden herbs
and seasoned black bean sauce (nuoc tuong)
Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Ingredients:

3 oz sea scallops
3 oz shrimp
Uncooked roe from 10 green crabs, strained and discarded the liquid
2 Tbsp chopped Chinese chives
2 tsp tapioca flour
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp porcini mushroom powder
A large pinch of ground black or white pepper
10 fresh zucchini flowers
1 large egg, whisked
1/2 cup masa harina (corn flour)
A pinch of salt
Oil for deep frying

Method:

For the Filling: In a food processor, add scallops, shrimp, roe, chives, tapioca flour, fish sauce, mushroom powder and pepper. Pulse a few times to blend all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.

Whisk an egg in a bowl and set aside. Sift or mix the corn flour and salt onto a plate. Stuff each flower with the filling and set aside.

Heat about 3 inches of oil in a pot or a deep fryer. Once the oil heats up to about 350-375 F dip one of the stuffed flowers (dip only 1 at a time to prevent clumping up with too much flour) into the whisked egg, shake gently to remove any excess egg. Next dip it to the seasoned corn flour and gently shake off excess flour and gently drop it in the hot oil. Fry 1-2 stuffed flowers at a time (avoid overcrowding the pot or fryer as this will decrease the oil temperature). Fry for about 3-4 minutes (turn the stuffed flowers a few times) or until the flowers are golden brown. Remove from the pot or fryer and place them on paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve hot.

filling and flowers--ready to be stuffed
stuffed flowers, whisked egg, seasoned flour
coat the stuffed flower in the whisked egg, shake off excess egg
coat the stuffed flower in seasoned corn flour, shake off excess flour
ready to fry
fry 1-2 stuffed flowers at one time
fried stuffed flowers on paper towels to remove excess oil
this is a re-fried stuffed flower
a cross section of the fried stuffed flower
Helpful Hints:

*Retain about 1/2 to 1-inch of the flower stem so that you can hold onto it while dipping it in the egg and flour.
*The scallops and shrimp were frozen in my freezer and I add them to the food processor when they were partially thawed. They do not have to be completely thawed to use. 
*If you do not have a thermometer then use a little stuffing to test whether the oil is ready to fry. If the stuffing sizzles quickly then the oil is ready. 
*You may re-fry the stuffed flowers for about 30-40 seconds in hot oil if needed to refresh (heat and crisp) them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Open-Face Dumplings (Siu Mai)

This special open-face dumplings or síu mại dish is made in loving memory of my dear late grandmother who passed away at age 98 on January 31, 2018. She was an amazing woman, petite but very energetic and strong mentally and physically--still working after age 97! A few days before I left Vietnam I was weighing my luggage for the plane. She was interested in knowing her weight and as quickly as she said it she was sitting on the scale with both feet up, and asking me to read the number! 

My mother and I last made these dumplings for my grandmother on one of our visits to Vietnam--it would be the last time that I saw her in person. The pre-made dumpling dough or dumpling skin was not available for purchase so we made our skin from scratch. We also did not have a pasta maker so we rolled the skin using a rolling pin. A pasta maker can make the thin skin quickly and without much effort. Nowadays if you live in the US you can easily purchase the skin at your local market. 


my 97 year old grandmother
with the síu mại ready to be cooked
(January 2017, Vietnam)
my grandmother--weighed 27.5 kilograms!
(Vietnam, 2015)
For this particular recipe I add a few extra ingredients which were not available when we made these for my grandmother--wild harvested local scallops, green crab roe and the porcini mushroom powder. The roe is delicious but also makes these dumplings look attractive. If you prefer less roe then use 1 ounce and about 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce. I want to thank Jamie Bassett, owner of Green Crab Nation (volume supplier of green crab) for the green crab roe. You may omit the porcini mushroom powder if it is not available or use another type of dried mushroom such as shiitake.

Recently my husband and I took a short trip to Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire for an impressive view of the works of an American sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In Claremont we stopped for a quick bite and I purchased the porcini mushroom powder along with a few other small spice bags from Claremont Spice & Dry Goods. Owners David and Ingrid Lucier run this store and they are unique in selling small quantity, high quality spices at a very reasonable price. David tells us that his entire spice inventory has a shelf life of 3 months. Sorry, no mail order! 

place approximately 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the skin,
press the side of the top part of the skin inward to make pleats
(photo courtesy of my husband, Paul Huibers)
gently drop the dumpling on the working surface a few times
to let the dumpling sit with a sturdy base
(photo courtesy of my husband, Paul Huibers)
garnish the dumpling with the toppings
(photo courtesy of my husband, Paul Huibers)
cooked open-face dumplings (síu mại)
Open-Face Dumplings (Síu Mại)--makes about 22 dumplings

Ingredients:

1 Wonton and Síu Mại Dumpling Skins (see recipe below)
Síu Mại Filling (see recipe below)
1 Seasoned Cooked Green Crab Caviar (see recipe below)

Method:

Fill the middle of a skin with approximately 1 tablespoon of the filling. Press the side of the top part of the skin inward to make pleats. Gently drop the dumpling on your working surface a few times to let the dumpling sits with a sturdy base. Repeat until all of your dumplings are done. Garnish with the toppings. Steam 8-10 minutes preferably in a bamboo steamer. Be sure to line the bottom of your steamer with either parchment paper, banana leaf, or napa cabbage leaves. I cut a piece of parchment paper and made small holes to allow the steam to flow through during cooking.

May dip these dumplings in soy sauce with or without additional chili pepper, hot mustard, chili oil or your own special dipping. I prefer Maggi brand Seasoning (sauce) made in Germany for the flavor and Chiu Chow Chili Oil. These may be purchase at an Asian market.

mixed síu mại filling--ready to mince or puree
pureed síu mại filling--ready to be used
Síu Mại Filling (makes about 13 oz)

Ingredients:

4 oz ground pork
4 oz shrimp, roughly chopped
4 oz sea scallop, roughly diced
2 Tbsp shallot, minced
1/2 tsp grated garlic
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp chopped scallion
1/2 tsp porcini mushroom powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 roasted white peppercorns, crushed into powder (about 1/8 tsp ground or crushed)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 large egg white, whisked
1 tsp cornstarch

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients well. Use a food processor to puree a few times to blend everything together. If you do not have a food process you can use a large knife or cleaver to hand chop everything to blend. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

dumpling dough
 start cutting to size
I try to prevent waste!
twenty eight 3-inch round skins

Wonton and Síu Mại Dumpling Skin (8 oz skin, makes about twenty-four to twenty-eight 3-inch round skins)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 large egg
2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp hot water
Cornstarch (to prevent the skin from sticking to each other)

Method:

Whisk or sift all-purpose flour, salt and turmeric powder. Add egg and incorporate it into the flour. Slowly add a tablespoon of water at a time to bind everything together. The dough should not be too sticky or too dry. Knead for about 5 minutes, wrap it in plastic or cover with a damp towel and let it rest for about an hour. May keep sealed up in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to use let it rest at room temperature and knead for about 5 minutes.

Hand Roll:
Divide the dough into 4 (each piece should be about 2 ounces). Roll each piece into a log. Cut each log into 6-7 pieces. Flatten a piece with your palm and roll the edges using a rolling pin. Use a drinking glass or a round dough cutter to cut out the skin. Dust each side of the skin with cornstarch to prevent them from sticking to each other. Keep the skin cover. If the dough gets too dry add a little egg yolk or water to moisten it.

Pasta Maker:
Pass the dough through the pasta maker at the largest setting 2 times, change to a medium setting and pass it 2 times, change to the thinnest setting that you like and pass it 2 times. Cut and dust with cornstarch to prevent the skin from sticking to one another. Keep the skin cover.

cooked green crab caviar
seasoned cooked green crab caviar
Seasoned Cooked Green Crab Caviar (toppings)

Ingredients:

1 tsp vegetable oil (or any types you prefer)
1/2 tsp shallot, minced
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp grated garlic
2 oz cooked green crab roe
1/2 tsp fish sauce (nước mắm)

Method:

Saute shallot, ginger, garlic in hot oil for about 30 seconds. Avoid burning the garlic. Add crab roe and saute about 30 seconds. Season with fish sauce, stir and turn off heat.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Seafood Stew

This Seafood Stew is inspired by the fisherman's stew known as cioppino. Every time I cook anything I try to improve on it, this time it is no different. I have made this type of stew a number of times over the years. Each time I tweak it by adding something different whether it is in the broth, the variety of seafood or both. The contents of this stew mainly depend on what is available in my kitchen, what is fresh at my local market's seafood counter and what my local fishermen are pulling up. This time I am adding my Simple Green Crab Stock and a few local catches--lobsters, Jonah crabs, squid and scallops. The stock was previously frozen so I refrigerated overnight to thaw. I use Jonah crab meat that my mother hand-picked and I kept frozen. If you are not as fortunate as I am then you may pick your own crab meat, purchase a container from your grocery or omit it altogether. I think the crab meat adds extra sweetness to the stew.

For this recipe I saute the sausages and seafood with oil, garlic, shallots, chili flakes and thyme and return them to the stew at the end, as my mother had suggested for more flavors and aroma. I saute the items that will take the longest to cook first. If you prefer not to use wine then use 1 1/2 cups of stock. If you drink white wine and not red then use that. Generally I avoid undrinkable wine or cooking wine. It is unnecessary to peel and deseed the tomatoes, the peel is a good source for fibers in your diet. If you prefer more heat add more chili peppers. I find that the lobster body (head) has a fair amount of meat and sometimes tasty roe so don't discard it without picking through it. When we were younger my parents purchased these because they were more affordable. They would eat the bodies and let us kids eat the meaty tails. 

This stew serves about 2-3 people but do add more seafood to serve more people. My little brother, his wife and 2 kids stopped in for a short visit and by adding an additional lobster meat and 2 more sausages I was able to feed his entire family with steamed rice. His children both younger than 10 are some of my worst food critics ever! His daughter rates this stew a surprising 10 with 10 being the best and 0 as the worst. His son gives it an 8. Both of them had seconds which speaks volumes! My brother comments, "the seafood is very tender", which is a good reason not to overcook the seafood.

seafood stew
Seafood Stew

Ingredients:

5 plum (Roma) tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeds removed, diced
About 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cup Simple Green Crab Stock
2-3 Tbsp oil
5 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 large shallot, minced
1-2 tsp dried chili flakes
About 6 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 sausages (use your favorite type), cut into bite size
About 10 oz swordfish (use any type of firm fish), skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubed, washed, dabbed with paper towel to dry
1 cooked lobster (about 1 1/2 lbs) meat, cut into bite size
8 shrimp, shells removed, tails intact, deveined, washed, dabbed with paper towel to dry
8 sea scallops, tough catch muscles on the side removed, washed, dabbed with paper towel to dry
About 8 oz squid (use bodies and tentacles--cut bodies either into rings and/or scored and cut into bite size)
About 4 oz of crab meat, shells and cartilage picked out and discarded
1/2 cup red wine (use any good drinking wine)
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp fish sauce (nước mắm)
A large pinch of sugar

Method:

Peel the tomatoes by making a little cross with a sharp knife on the non-stem sides and drop them in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove from the water when you see a small split on the side and peel off the skin, discard the skin. Cut in half, core and remove the seeds, discard the core and seeds. Dice all of the tomatoes. In a blender puree half of them with the parsley and a little broth, set aside.

Gently boil the lobster in a little water for about 8-10 minutes, covered. Watch the stove so it will not boil over. Turn off heat after the lobster is just cooked. Once the lobster is cooled to handle remove the head (or lobster body) from the tail and reserve any liquid to put in the stew. Remove and discard the intestines and cut the meat into bite size and split the body in half and reserve for garnish if interested.

In a large pan or pot saute garlic, shallot, chilies, and thyme until the onion is soft. Add sausages and swordfish, saute about 2 minutes. Add shrimp, scallops, and squid and saute about a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pour the pureed contents, remaining broth, wine and the rest of diced tomatoes into the pan or pot. Let is gently simmer for about 15 minutes until the wine has cooked off and the broth has reduced a little. Add the fried sausages, swordfish to the pan or pot. Cook until the seafood and sausages are cooked through. For the last 5 minutes add the rest of the seafood, season with fish sauce and sugar.

Serve hot with fresh ground pepper and crusty bread if interested.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Spider Rolls

I feel as though I am on a roll with cooking and eating green crabs! 😀 Yesterday after working in the clinic I went to the shore and I harvested a number of tiny crabs, luckily along with 3 soft-shell green crabs. A few days prior I was given some that had molted in Dr. Bradt's lab. In my life I have never imagined that I would one day cook and eat lab specimens...but secretly I think I have a pretty sweet deal!

Many of you may have eaten spider rolls at Japanese restaurants. Generally they are made from battered fried soft-shell Chesapeake blue crabs, spicy mayo, avocado, cucumber, and radish sprouts or some kind of greens.  

I have never made a spider roll before. My initial roll looked quite pathetic but thankfully I improved a little after a few rolls. Just like anything else it takes practice and time. Here are a few tips that I learned from making these; use chopsticks to fluff and hand fan to cool the rice (the Japanese way is to use a rice paddle to cut through the rice), and wet your palms and fingers before handling the rice. The more rice you use on the nori the fatter your roll will be. Try to press the rice down onto the nori (seaweed) with your fingers, it does not matter which side of the nori you use as it will be an inside out roll, and use a plastic sheet to wrap your bamboo mat securely.

spider rolls (2nd attempt)
spider rolls

Spider Rolls

Ingredients:

Bamboo mat with plastic wrap
3-4 nori whole sheets, cut in half to yield 6-8 half sheets
1 recipe of Sushi Rice (see recipe below)
1 recipe of Spicy Mayo Sauce (see recipe below)
2 mini cucumbers, washed, cut each into 4 length-wise
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, removed seed
A handful of fresh sea asparagus, blanched for about 10 seconds in boiling water
18-20 Battered Fried Soft-Shell Green Crabs (see recipe below)

Method:

Wrap the bamboo mat securely with a plastic sheet and place it on your work surface. Place a half sheet of nori down on the bamboo mat. Wet your fingers and palms with water. Add a portion of your rice to cover all of the nori sheet, press the rice down firmly with your fingers, flip the rice-nori sheet over with the rice facing down, spread a dollop of spicy mayo sauce across the width of the nori sheet, add 1 slice of cucumber, a slice of avocado, a few sprigs of sea asparagus, and 2-3 crabs. Let part of the crabs and other ingredients stick out a little on the sides. Roll firmly and tightly. Cut the roll with a sharp knife in a quick saw-like motion. Clean the knife on a damp cloth before making another slice. May serve with a little extra spicy sauce and garnish with 1-2 fried crabs if interested.

ready to start rolling
wrapped bamboo mat
place sushi rice on nori sheet and press the rice down
flip over with rice facing down
add your fillings-avocado slice, cucumber slice,
sea asparagus, crabs and spicy mayo sauce
finished roll
close up of a slice with chunky crab meat

It is difficult for me to write how to cook rice because all my life I have never measured the rice or the water until this post. I started making rice when I was about 7 or 8 years old because my parents were both working. Back then I was making it the primitive way--in a pot, using wood and kindling that I gathered and making a fire. I had to watch it carefully, keep the lid slightly open so the water does not boil over and shifting my fire so the heat will not burn the rice. Nowadays I plug in the rice cooker to an outlet and push a button and in no time the rice is done. I have a rice cooker that my parents purchased for me decades ago when I landed my first job far away from home. It is a Japanese brand and it still makes perfect rice. If you do not have one I recommend getting one especially if you enjoy eating rice. It's a time saving appliance. 

fluffing rice using chopsticks and cooling with a hand fan
Sushi Rice (makes 6 fatter rolls or 8 thinner rolls)

Ingredients:

2 cups short-grain rice
2 1/2 cups water
4 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

Method:

Gently wash your rice with water 2-3 times until the water in the rice is not cloudy. Drain all the rice and add about 2 1/2 cups water. Cook the rice in a rice cooker. Once the rice is done cooking, use chopsticks to stir or fluff up the rice, cover and let it continue to cook (keep the plug intact and do not press the button to cook on the rice cooker) for about 15-20 minutes. Once it is done, transfer the cooked rice to a glass or ceramic bowl. Drizzle the rice vinegar over the rice and fluff up the rice with chopsticks while using a hand fan to help cool the rice. Divide the rice into 6 or 8 portions depending on how fat or thin you want your rolls to be. Once cooled cover with a damp towel.

batter
prepared crabs and batter

battered fried soft-shell green crabs

Battered Fried Soft-Shell Green Crabs

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
18-20 prepared soft-shell green crabs (see How to Prepare Soft-Shell Green Crab for Eating)
Oil for deep frying

Method:

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl to blend. Add egg and beer and whisk to blend. Heat oil in a pot or a deep fryer to about 350 degrees F. If you do not have a thermometer you can test using a little batter. If it sizzle quickly then your oil is hot. Dip 2-3 crabs in the batter and fry until golden brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove and place on paper towels to drain the oil.

Helpful Hints:

*This batter should be enough for about 35-40 green crabs. In this recipe I use 18 prepared soft-shell green crabs ranging from 1 inch to 2 inches.
*I like adding turmeric but you can omit it. 
*I use an IPA beer.

Spicy Mayo Sauce

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp sriracha sauce

Method:

Mix until blended.

Helpful Hints:

*I use store-bought Avocado Oil Mayo for my Spicy Mayo Sauce.
*Sea Asparagus: for a few sprigs you can microwave about 20 seconds to blanch. However, for large amount I blanch them in boiling water for about 10 seconds. I remove them and run cold water over them once done and dab with a towel to dry especially when using for making sushi.

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