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.

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