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)

Rémoulade (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 rémoulade (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:

Rémoulade (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 rémoulade, 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
Rémoulade (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

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

I went to the dock with scientist/researcher, Dr. Bradt and showed her how my modified crab trap works. Luckily it functioned smoothly and I managed to pull up 42 crabs in less than an hour, ranging from 3/4 to 2 1/2 inches. The majority of the crabs were 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches. I came home and made this fairly large pot of Vietnamese crab noodle soup known in Vietnamese as bún riêu. This noodle soup is popular and is eaten all over Vietnam. In Vietnam the type of crab used for this special soup is the fresh water crab found in the rice paddies. They are similar in size to the green crabs found here in the Northeast United States. 

The stock or broth (riêu) used in this soup is made using a traditional Vietnamese method by hand crushing the crabs to a pulp. I find that adding a handful of crabs at a time in freezer bags (double bag) and using a heavy object to crush them gets the job done rapidly and helps for fast and easy cleanup later. After the crabs are crushed or pureed then add a little water to the contents, stir to lift out the crab meat and strain out the liquid and the fine meat bits. I repeat this process 3 times to get as much of the meat out as possible. Nowadays many people (in Vietnam) purchase the prepared crabs all ground up.

My mother makes her delicious bún riêu using lobster shells and rock crabs from Maine. Besides my mother and a few of her Vietnamese-American friends in Maine I know of very few others who make this noodle soup from scratch. I think most believe it is too time consuming...even I have had this misconception myself. After making this from scratch the most time consuming is the actual process of cleaning the crabs. I find that trapping and cooking them can be done quickly. 

We eat this bún riêu in a similar fashion as we eat other Vietnamese wet noodles such as the well-loved phở. A bowl is served along with a large platter of fresh herbs and vegetables and a little sauce on the side. A typical platter may consist of finely shredded banana blossom, finely shredded water spinach, bean sprouts, culantro, mint, perilla, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint or balm, lime cut in wedges, and hot chili peppers. If you do not have access to banana blossom or the water spinach then you may substitute them with finely shredded green or red cabbage. I like my bún riêu with a little fine shrimp sauce (fermented shrimp) but it is optional since not everyone likes this flavor. I think the fine shrimp sauce is a little similar to anchovies but much stronger in taste and smell. If you like anchovies then you probably can eat this sauce. When I sit down to eat my bowl of noodles with broth I add a lot of the vegetables from the plate to my bowl of noodles and broth, extra chilis (the hotter the better!), a little of the fine shrimp sauce, a drizzle of fish sauce if needed and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice, then mix it all up and slurp it down while it is piping hot!

My mission, although it may sound far fetched, is to make bún riêu using green crabs a known item in this area of New England! I hope that you will make this and encourage your family and friends to eat green crabs!

bún riêu
Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup (Bún Riêu)

Ingredients:

Minimum 40-50 adult green crabs (preferably females)
12 cups cold water
3 Tbsp annatto oil (see recipe below)
2-3 large shallots, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 large garlic cloves, smashed, chopped (about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
2 scallions (green parts), chopped (about 1/2 cup)
About 1/2 cup uncooked green crab roe and crab mustard
6 peeled whole Roma (plum) tomatoes, quartered length-wise, cored
Fried tofu, 6-8 oz, slices
1 bunch of scallions (green parts only), cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch lengths
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce (nước mắm)
3/4 to 1 oz rock sugar (đường phèn)
1 package of rice noodles (bún), cooked as directed on package
Fresh crab meat (optional)

Method:

Follow directions on how to make Vietnamese-Style Crab Stock, but use 12 cups of water to filter out the crushed crabs. Set the crab liquid aside in a large pot over a stove. Do not disturb (no stirring) the pot.

Heat a large pan over medium high heat, add annatto oil. Once hot add shallot, garlic and chopped scallion, saute about 1-2 minutes or until the shallot is soft. Add the roe/crab mustard and saute about a minute. Add tomatoes and tofu, saute about another minute to coat everything and remove from heat. Set aside.

Heat the pot with the crab liquid over medium high to high heat. Do not stir. Let the meat pieces float to the top undisturbed. Turn the heat down a little to avoid the liquid from boiling too hard or boiling over the pot. Skim off any white foam if interested. Once the pieces stop floating to the surface (about 5 minutes) add the sauteed contents to the pot. Stir gently once. Add the 2-inch cut scallions. Season with salt, fish sauce and sugar. Stir gently once more and turn heat to very low and serve hot.

Serve with rice noodles, platter of herbs and vegetables, fish sauce and fermented shrimp on the side.

sauteed shallot, garlic, scallion, roe/crab mustard,
tomatoes and tofu in annatto oil
cook the liquid and fine crab meat until the meat pieces float to the surface
Vietnamese crab noodle soup (bún riêu)
add cooked rice noodle to a large bowl
(there are small and large round rice noodles, purchase the smaller type)
pour the broth with tofu, tomatoes, and crab bits over it

add chilis, fermented shrimp, drizzle of fish sauce
and fresh herbs and vegetables
squeeze some lime
mix and enjoy
bún riêu without crab roe but has extra freshly picked rock crab meat on top
(made with my mother while in Maine) 



a platter with an assortment of fresh herbs/vegetables
(these are the more typical items served along with bún riêu)
may substitute green or red cabbage
for the banana blossom and water spinach

A Platter of Assortment of Fresh Herbs/Vegetables:

Finely shredded banana blossom (known as bắp chuối in Vietnamese)
Finely shredded water spinach (rau muống)
Bean sprouts (gía)
Mint (rau húng)
Thai basil (rau quế)
Green or purple perilla (also known as shiso in Japanese or rau tía tô in Vietnamese)
Culantro (rau ngò gai)
Vietnamese mint or balm (rau kinh giới)
Vietnamese coriander (rau răm)
Lime, cut in wedges (to squeeze a little into the soup if interested)
Hot chili peppers, chopped

Small Sauce Dishes:

A dollop of fine shrimp sauce (mắm ruốc or mắm tôm)
A small amount of fish sauce (nước mắm)

making annatto oil
How to Make Annatto Oil (makes 3 Tablespoons)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp annatto seeds

Method:

In a pan add annatto seeds and oil. Stir the seeds over 1-2 minutes or until the oil turns bright orange-red. Remove the pan from heat and let the seeds steep for about 10-15 minutes. Strain and discard the seeds.

Helpful Hints:

*The total weight of 40 whole crabs for this recipe was about 2.75 pounds. After cleaning them and removing and discarding the carapaces, aprons, and gills and saving the roe in a separate dish the final prepared crab came to nearly 1.5 pounds. You may use more crabs if you have any. For the 12 cups of water this is the minimal amount of crabs that I would use. The crab flavor will decrease with less crabs. 
*My cousin (in Vietnam) known to me as Chế Xìa tells me she makes bún riêu similar way as this method on this post. However, she uses a blender to crush the crab (from the rice paddies) bodies, legs and claws without damaging her equipment.
*This soup should be enough for 4 fairly large bowls.
*The rock sugar can be found in an Asian market. Do not substitute rock sugar with equal amount of granulated sugar. If you do not have any rock sugar then use about 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
*As with all of the dishes on this blog, season your food according to yours and your family taste. My general rule of thumb is to season lightly when cooking and then adjust or add extra later for that individual person. If you add too much salt to start then it is quite difficult to remove it later.
*If you like to eat coagulated blood cubes in this soup like I do then you may add them when adding the sauteed contents to the pot at the end. You may purchase the blood in an Asian market. 
*The most expensive items for this soup especially living in New Hampshire would be the herbs and vegetables such as the banana blossom and water spinach. You may substitute with finely shredded red or green cabbage and a few types of easy to find herbs such as Thai basil, mint and cilantro.
*Peel and discard the outer layers (petals) of the banana blossom until you come to the tender tight part. Cut in half, core and slice as thinly as possible and immediately place in a container with cold water and juice from a lime or lemon (or may use about a tablespoon of vinegar). The acid will prevent the slices from turning black once the sap oxidizes with oxygen.
*You do not have to peel or deseed your tomatoes. The skin is a great source of fibers in your diet. However, if you choose to peel them then score the non-stem end of each tomato with a small X or +. Blanch them in boiling water for about 20 minutes or until they start to split down the side. Remove and peel once it is easy and safe (less hot) to handle. Cut into quarters (and core if interested). I prefer not to cook my tomatoes too long because I want to keep its shape in my soup.
*You can purchase the firm tofu, cut to bite size and fry in oil until golden or you can purchase them already fried in an Asian market. Add more tofu if you are interested. 
*The aquatic water spinach (rau muống) tastes nothing like the Western spinach. The flavor is very mild and it is eaten all over Southeast Asia. The Asian markets in the United States carry this vegetable but it is expensive especially in New England. For the bún riêu we use only the stalks. I use a peeler to finely shred then soak them in ice cold water to create beautiful curls. In Vietnam people generally use a vegetable peeler to create strands from these stalks. You may purchase a Water Spinach Splitter (from Amazon or an Asian market) but I find this tool to be a waste of money (I own one!). This tool has sharp blades arranged like wheel spokes intended to split the stalks. However, the stalks are too thick and I prefer using a vegetable peeler to do the same or better job.
*To cook the dried rice noodles: Place the noodles in boiling water and cook until soft. Test a strand for doneness by pinching it with your finger or eating one. Watch the pot while you boil the noodles so the liquid does not boil over the pot. Drain and run cold water over them to remove some of the starch and prevent the noodles from becoming clumpy.

thinly sliced banana blossom in cold water and lime juice
blanched tomatoes making them easy to peel
peeled, quartered, and cored tomatoes
shredded water spinach
shredded cabbage using a peeler
(this peeler was purchased in Tokyo, Japan)
you may use a spoon to remove and discard some of the liquid
from the roe and crab mustard before using
OR rinse the roe and crab mustard in cold water and strain out the water
(these last steps are not necessary)

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