Monday, August 12, 2019

How to Dry Sea Vegetables at Home

How to Dry Sea Vegetables at Home

How do you dry sea vegetables at home without a dehydrator? The process is quite simple. I prefer to spend time initially to clean the sea vegetables to decrease cleaning time later.

I normally wash each strand by running my fingers over it to remove any sand, roots, snails or other ocean debris. After this wash them in cold water several times. You can tie or clip (such as paper clips or clothespins) the end of each strand onto a stick or hanger. It is best that they don't touch but if they do it doesn't matter; they will just take a little longer to dry. You can hang the strands inside or outside your home. In order to eliminate the ocean briny smell from your own home you may prefer to hang them in a garage or outside preferably protected under an umbrella or even a roof. After 1 day of drying in the air and wind you may then bring them inside to hang to complete your drying process. If they are not completely dry the next day you may move them outside to dry another day. Avoid leaving them outside at night since some of the moisture from the air will absorb back into the vegetables. Another great place to dry anything is inside the car. My husband discovered this when he dried self-harvested coffee beans on Maui many years ago! I would let the air and wind partially dry the vegetables until there is no longer any liquid dripping from them then move them into the car to dry. This will prevent your car from having a strong ocean smell. During the winter months the air inside the house tends to be very dry making the drying process easy and quick. During the summer months the humidity level tends to be high. However, if you have an air conditioner and it is on then it will help keep the vegetables dry. Once they are completely dry place them in a glass jar with a piece of desiccant to help remove any extra moisture. I saved the small desiccant pouches from food packages--a great way to recycle them for my sea vegetables!

baby sugar kelp
drying sugar kelp on a hanger under an umbrella
dried sugar kelp

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Green Crab News

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

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

Edible Boston:
From Menace to Moeche 

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

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

The New York Times:
Meet a New Crab to Eat












Cabbage and Crab Salad

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

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

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

Cabbage and Crab Salad

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Crab Salad

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

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

Crab Salad

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

Friday, July 26, 2019

Fried Crab Salad

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

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

fried crab salad

Fried Crab Salad

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

Friday, July 5, 2019

Quick Prep for Soft-Shell Green Crabs

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, June 28, 2019

Monkfish and Crab Ceviche

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

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

monkfish and crab ceviche

Monkfish and Crab Ceviche

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

Helpful Hints:

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fried Rice

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

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

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

fried rice
Fried Rice

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

fried rice with sea scallops and steamed vegetables

Friday, May 24, 2019

Sugar Kelp Salad

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

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

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

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

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

sugar kelp salad

Sugar Kelp Salad

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

sugar kelp salad

Pasta with Kelp and Periwinkles

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

pasta with kelp and periwinkles

Pasta with Kelp and Periwinkles

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

kelp, periwinkle meat, half and half, crab stock

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Stir-Fried Broccoli, Kelp, and Shrimp

Sea vegetables are versatile as a kitchen ingredient. You can add them in pretty much anything even in a stir fry. The young sugar kelp has a pleasant slight crunch when they are fresh.

stir-fried broccoli, kelp, and shrimp
Stir-Fried Broccoli, Kelp, and Shrimp

Ingredients:

12 oz prepared broccoli crowns, cut into bite size, washed and drained
1 Tbsp oil (vegetable or your choice of oil)
1 large garlic clove, smashed, chopped
10 large shrimp, peeled, butterflied, de-veined
1 to 1 1/2 oz young sugar kelp with or without stems, cut into 2-3 inches in length
1 recipe of Green Crab Stir-Fried Sauce (see recipe below)

Method:

Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes or until they are are bright in color and the stems are just cooked, remove from heat. In a large pan or wok heat oil and garlic over high heat. Cook about 30 seconds to cook the garlic slightly. Add shrimp and saute about a  minute or until the shrimp curled and slightly cooked. Add the steamed broccoli, kelp and the green crab stir-fried sauce. Stir the contents to coat everything evenly, the kelp turn green and the shrimp are just cooked. Remove and serve hot.

Green Crab Stir-Fry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup green crab stock (please see Simple Green Crab Stock link)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce

Method:

Mix all ingredients together. May adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Be sure to stir the sauce prior to using.

Crab Cakes

I ate my fair share of crab cakes but many are full of fillers with minimal crab meat. When I have access to fresh crab meat I like to make simple dishes such as crab cakes. This way I get to taste mostly the sweet meat. These 4 crab cakes came from one Jonah crab. The crab was not too meaty but I was able to get 3 ounces of meat. Normally I would chill the cakes in the freezer for about 15 minutes to help bind them so they do not break apart during cooking. This time I had limited time and I placed the whole bowl in the freezer for about 5 minutes and they held their shape. I prefer using panko (Japanese bread crumbs) which is lighter and more airy than the Italian bread crumbs. 

I want to thank Dr. Gabriela Bradt, UNH researcher and NH Community Seafood for the Jonah crab. Also thanks to Catherine Puckett of Oyster Wench Block Island Shellfish Farm & Block Island Kelp for the fresh tender baby sugar kelp! The blanched fresh kelp has a delightful slight crunch.

crab cakes

Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

1 chicken egg yolk
About 1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 scallion, green parts only, chopped
Meat from 1 large cooked Jonah crab (or at least 3 oz from any crab meat)
1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
About 1 Tbsp of oil (vegetable or your oil of choice) for frying

Method:

Mix the yolk, mayonnaise and scallion until blended. Add the crab meat and panko to the mixture and gently mix until blended. Divide the contents into 4 parts and gently mold each part to form a ball. Place the balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill. Heat a non-stick pan with oil over high heat. Once the oil is hot add the balls in the pan, avoid letting the balls touch each other. Gently press each ball down with a spatula. May turn the heat down slightly if the pan gets too hot. Fry for about 2-3 minutes or until golden. Flip the cake over and fry for another 2-3 minutes or until golden. Remove and serve with your favorite sauce or salad.

Caper Sauce

Ingredients:

About 10 capers, chopped
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
About 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
Chili oil to taste, optional
Sea salt to taste

Method:

Mix capers, mayonnaise and lemon juice until well blended. Season with chili oil and salt. May use to drizzle over the crab cakes.

Blanched Baby Sugar Kelp

Ingredients:

6-8 baby sugar kelp (preferably less than 1 foot long)
Water for boiling

Method:

Wash the sugar kelp well. Gently run your fingers along the kelp to remove any roots or ocean debris. Blanch in boiling water for about 20 seconds and remove. Rinse in cold water and strain. Dab with clean towel to remove excess water if interested.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Scallop Crudo III

Today just seem to be a scallop crudo day at my house! It is impossible to be full by eating a single scallop at a time! And if I am consuming at this rate then I will definitely extend my scallop supply easily until the next scallop season! Thank you, Mike Anderson and his crew of Rimrack Fish for the fresh-off-the-boat sea scallops!

Today I also feel a bit daring to share this abstract piece with you. Don't let the pink liquid scare you. It is from a little of the freshly squeezed blood orange juice! 😀

scallop crudo III
scallop crudo III

Scallop Crudo III

Ingredients:

7 thinly sliced English cucumber circles
1 large sea scallop, tough muscle removed and discarded, thinly sliced
5 thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water, squeezed out the liquid prior to using
Meat from 1-2 cooked Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia), depending on your preference
Several small pinches of dried lime, lemon, blood orange zest
Several small pinches of finely chopped fresh cilantro
Several small pinches of dried red hot chili peppers
A very small pinch of sea salt
A drizzle of freshly squeezed blood orange juice
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Use your imagination and creativity to arrange the ingredients or as per photo. Arrange the cucumber slices in a circle on a plate. Arrange the slices of scallop between the cucumber slices. Use the ends of the scallop slices for the center to add height. Arrange the onion around the center piece. Scatter the crab meat, zest, cilantro, peppers and sea salt on top. Lastly drizzle the entire plate with juice and oil.

Scallop Crudo II

Just one large scallop is enough to create a beautiful and delicious appetizer that will make your family and friends craving for more! Here is another scallop crudo. This time I added a tiny pinch of sea salt scattered over the outer edges of the scallop slices and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

If you would like to have some fresh-off-the-boat fresh sea scallops you can visit Rimrack Fish to inquire about their next scallop season! You may contact Enna Chocolate to purchase your chocolate nibs and other tasty chocolate treats from around the world!

scallop crudo II
Scallop Crudo II

Ingredients:

1 large sea scallop, tough muscle removed and discarded, sliced thinly
12 thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water and squeezed out the liquid prior to using
Meat from 1-2 cooked Salted Green Crab (Ba Khia), depending on your preference
A large pinch of finely pinched fresh cilantro
A large pinch of unsweetened Peruvian chocolate nibs
Several small pinches of dried lime, lemon and blood orange zest
Several small pinches of dried chili peppers
A drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
A very small pinch of sea salt

Method:

Arrange the ingredients per photo or use your own creation and imagination. Place the slices of scallop and red onion on your dish. Arrange the salted crab meat, cilantro, chocolate nibs, citric zest and chili peppers. Drizzle lemon juice and oil over everything. Scatter the sea salt on the edges away from the salted crab meat.

Scallop Crudo

I enjoy eating raw scallops especially when they are harvested by my local fisherman, Mike Anderson of Rimrack Fish. The Italians have their version of raw seafood dish known as crudo. The ones that I ate in the past seemed to have some sort of oil added. Here I did not add any but you certainly can drizzle a little of your favorite oil on top for extra flavors.

scallop crudo

Scallop Crudo

Ingredients:

1 large scallop, tough muscle removed and discard, sliced thinly against the grain
Meat and roe from 1-2 cooked Salted Green Crab (Ba Khia), depending on how much you prefer
Several thinly slices of red onion, soaked in cold water and squeezed out the liquid
A large pinch of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
A pinch of Peruvian chocolate nibs (from Enna Chocolate)
A small pinch of dried lime zest
A small pinch of dried lemon zest
A small pinch of dried blood orange zest
A small pinch of dried seaweed
A small pinch of dried chili peppers
Drizzle of freshly squeezed lime juice

Method:

Thinly slice the scallop against the grain and arrange them on a plate. Arrange the onion slices and salted green crab meat and roe on the plate. Add a large pinch of cilantro, chocolate nibs, and sprinkle on the crumbled citric zest, seaweed and chili peppers. Drizzle with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Helpful Hints:

*If you are interested in purchasing the Peruvivan chocolate nibs (unsweetened) please contact Enna Chocolate directly.
*If you are interested in purchasing scallops or squid from Rimrack Fish, please contact them directly. Unfortuately the scallop season has just ended as of this month (April 2019).

Friday, April 26, 2019

Scallop and Green Crab Caviar Ceviche

I love making and eating ceviche--mostly because it requires minimal to no cooking time and I can be as creative or not. I am a bit spoiled because I get fresh-off-the-boat sweet jumbo scallops from my local fisherman, Mike Anderson. When they are in season I purchase them, divide them up in smaller bags to freeze so I can enjoy them during the off season. These are the only ones that I always feel safe eating raw. Of course, do take caution when consuming anything raw or partially cooked. If you are going to eat raw seafood you may want to consult your health care provider first.

I have never made ceviche with green crab roe before. This one is special because I used the salted green crab roe or caviar. Since the caviar is already salty I omit adding extra salt. The result is colorful and delicious! Please check out my previous post on Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia).

If you are interested in purchasing fresh scallops from Mike Anderson and his family please visit their Facebook page, FV Rimrack. Sorry, the scallop season has just ended. However, squid season is next!

scallop and green crab caviar ceviche
Scallop and Green Crab Caviar Ceviche

Ingredients:

Caviar from 4-6 cooked Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia)
6 large sea scallops, tough muscles removed, diced into 4-6 pieces depending on size
About 4 segments of blood orange, cut each one into 2-3 pieces
About 10-12 thinly slices of red onion, squeezed out the water prior to using
About 10 fresh blueberries
About 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
About 1 tsp of chopped chili peppers (optional)
About 1 tsp chopped cilantro leaves
About 1 tsp chopped scallion (green parts only)
A pinch of lime zest, plus more for garnish
A pinch of lemon zest, plus more for garnish
A pinch of blood orange zest, plus more for garnish

Method:

Simmer the salted green crabs (use the amount depending on how much roe there are and your preference) for about 10 minutes. Drain them and let them cool completely. Remove the roe and save. Thinly slice the red onion and soak in cold water, squeeze out the water prior to using. Remove the white pith and membranes of a blood orange. Cut each segment into 2-3 pieces. Cut each scallop into 4-6 pieces depending on its size.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix. Garnish with extra zest if interested.


Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia)

Salted or fermented crabs, known as ba khía in Vietnamese, is a way to preserve a special type of small crabs found in muddy areas in the mangroves without the need of refrigeration. Ba khía is a popular food item in the Mekong Delta (the southern region of Vietnam) such as my former home town of Soc Trang. Because they are salty even just one crab can last a person several meals! If you have nothing else to eat except rice and ba khía you can probably survive on these two items for many months

Prior to eating these crabs there is a special preparation that my family uses. We take the fermented crab crabs apart by removing and discarding the carapaces, gills, and aprons. We wash them in warm water several times and break each crab body into 4-6 sections. We then mix the prepared crabs with lime juice, garlic, chili peppers and sugar. This seasoned ba khía lasts weeks in the refrigerator. According to my father if you use vinegar instead of lime juice you can keep it longer. Since it is very salty I eat only a tiny fraction of the crab, usually 2-3 legs with about 1/8 to 1/4 of the body with lots of steamed rice.

salted green crabs (ba khia)
Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khía)

Ingredients:


4 cups water
1/2 cup sea salt
10 green crabs (preferably females)
1/2 cup rice wine (optional)

Method:

Boil the water and add sea salt, stir until the salt dissolves. Let the liquid cool completely. Wash the crabs well and let them drain. Place the crabs in a glass or ceramic jar. Pour the cooled salted liquid over the crabs. May add rice wine if using. May use a small glass or ceramic plate to keep the crabs submerged in the liquid. Cover tightly and keep refrigerated up to 2 months. The crabs will be salty and ready to eat in 5 days.

Helpful Hints:

*My father advises adding rice wine (such as sake) to the batch for extra fragrance.
*The uncooked salted crab meat should taste salty with a gelatinous consistency. The salted green crab meat may slowly dissolve to nothing if you keep them longer than 2-3 months.
*I prefer to ferment female crabs as I can use them in more dishes. 
*Use only freshly caught crabs as they have more meat.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Coconut Clam Chowder

This chowder is inspired by Chef Raj, co-owner of the Tulsi Indian Restaurant in Kittery and Tulsi North Indian Restaurant in Wells, Maine. My husband and I met him one evening at the Kittery location. When he speaks about cooking and eating you can imagine that he will serve you only high quality and flavorful foods--the kind that will certainly wake your senses! He hailed from a coastal region near Mumbai, India and eventually made his way to a small coastal town in Maine. In his former home village, some people would roast a coconut to make a seafood soup. I don't have access to whole coconuts and roasting would take some extra time which I lack. For simplicity my soup is made from canned coconut milk and already ground spices...perhaps not the best ingredients but they will have to do for now!

The crabs came from Dr. Bradt who purchased them from Maine fisherman, Everett Leach. The clams came from my local market. You may shuck the clams while they are fresh. However, I find that steaming them for just 5 minutes makes for a convenient and easy job to remove the clam meat and save the broth. I purposely saved the washed cilantro stems and roots in the freezer for these types of soups or stews.

Thank you Chef Raj, Dr. Bradt and Everett for this simple but tasty chowder!

If you are in Kittery or Wells, Maine and are hungry for some delicious Indian food you may want to check out these restaurants!  
http://www.tulsiindianrestaurant.com/
https://www.tulsinorth.com/

coconut clam chowder
Coconut Clam Chowder

Ingredients:

About 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp neutral oil (such as vegetable)
1/3 C chopped white or yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled, grated or minced
1 large potato, peeled, diced
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Madras curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
4 1/2 C Green Crab Stock For Chowders (see recipe below)
3 1/2 C Clam Stock (see recipe below)
1 can (13.6 oz or 403 mL) unsweetened coconut milk
About 2 Tbsp dried seaweed, cut and rinsed
1 1/2 C (or 7 1/8 oz) chopped steamer clams
2 Tbsp chopped fresh scallions
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp chicken stock powder

Method:

Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until the onion is soft. Add garlic,  potato, cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry and cayenne powder. Saute about 3-4 minutes to blend the spices and to help soften the potato. Add green crab stock and clam stock. Cook about 10-15 minutes or until the potato pieces are soft. Shake the coconut milk to blend and pour it through a strainer into the pot (to prevent any lumps). Add seaweed. Turn heat to high and once the liquid starts to boil turn the heat down to medium and let it boil for about a minute. Turn heat down to a simmer and add clams, scallions, cilantro and season with fish sauce and chicken stock powder. Turn heat to low once the clams are thoroughly heated. Serve hot with crusty bread. May add extra cayenne or freshly ground white pepper if interested.

Helpful Hints:

*You may omit the cayenne powder if you prefer non-spicy.
*It is best to buy small quantity of ground spices as they do not have a long shelf life.
*2 1/2 pounds of steamer clams yield about 7 1/8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) of clam meat.

green crab stock for chowder
Green Crab Stock For Chowders (makes about 4 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

15 prepared green crabs
6 C water
1 small piece of kelp (dried or fresh)
About 10 (6-8 inches long) cilantro stems and 2 cilantro roots
1 small onion, peeled, quartered or diced
3-4 slices of ginger, bruised
2 garlic cloves, smashed

Method:

Prepare each crab by removing and discarding the carapace, apron, and gills. Scrub the crabs in a little salt and rinse in cold water, let them drain. Crush the crabs (the finer the crabs are crushed the more flavors the result). Place the crab in a pot and add water, kelp, cilantro stems, cilantro roots, onion, ginger and garlic. Turn the heat to high. Once the liquid starts to boil turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain and save the liquid for cooking.

steamer clams
Clam Stock (makes about 3 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

About 2 1/2 lbs fresh steamer clams
2 C water

Method:

Soak the clams while you scrub them. Rinse them in cold water and drain. Remove and discard any broken or dead clams. The dead ones will have an unpleasant smell. Cover the pot and steam the clams in 2 cups of water for about 5 minutes or when the clams just open up. Turn off heat and remove the lid. Once the clams are cooled remove and discard the skin on the neck and the siphon tips. Rinse the clams in its stock. Strain and save the clean liquid. Chop the meat and reserve.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Vietnamese Seasoned Fish Sauce--makes about 3/4 cup

Every Vietnamese home has this house-made dipping sauce. This sauce should have a balance of saltiness, sweetness and tartness. The saltiness comes from fish sauce, sweetness from sugar, and the tartness from either vinegar, lime or lemon juice. Some people like it spicy. Some like it very sweet. If you are one of these people then load up on the chili peppers or extra sugar. Mine tends to be on the sour side. Typically I make my sauce with the same ingredients as my mother's as it is more versatile and has longer shelf life. She usually makes huge jars of sauce (to give to my siblings and me) and does not add garlic, chilies or water and her sauce can last for months to over a year. She omits chilies so everyone can eat it. When we scoop some from the jar to eat we have a preference to add finely chopped chili and garlic. Most people I know including my mother make this without a recipe and they always come out consistent every time. Feel free to adjust your seasoning according to your preference. If you find this sauce to be too strong then dilute it with a little water or fresh coconut water. 

Vietnamese seasoned fish sauce

Vietnamese Seasoned Fish Sauce--makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:

1 small carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup shredded)
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, smashed, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 chilies, finely chopped (optional)

Method:

Mix carrot, sugar, vinegar and fish sauce and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Add garlic and chilies if interested.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Crispy Rolls (Cha Gio)

I posted a few photos (see below) from this post on my Facebook page with a joking caption, "New menu items coming soon to Green Crab Cafe!!". My friend/colleague, Sue commented, "Boy this one is a tough sell!!" What do you think?!

In my family we have a variety of different fillings for these type of crispy rolls known in Vietnamese as chả giò. This one is popular in Vietnam minus the crab roe and the little crabs clinging to the sides! The ratio of crab meat, shrimp and pork is based on the individual preference. You may find the water chestnuts, bean thread noodles and wood ear fungus in any Asian markets. Some people prefer this filling either more salty or sweet; adjust the seasoning according to your taste preference. My filling is mild--not too salty or sweet so these rolls can be dipped in a sauce.

These can be eaten as snacks, appetizers or even with rice or noodles. For a light meal (see below) I add lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, Vietnamese Pickled Vegetables, unsalted roasted peanuts (see recipe below) on cooked rice noodles (bún) with a drizzle of sauce (see recipe below).


noodle bowl with crispy rolls
crispy rolls using spring roll wrappers
crispy rolls made from rice papers

Crispy Rolls (Chả Giò)

Ingredients:

Seafood and Meat Filling (see recipe below)
24 to 48 small green crabs (preferably less than 1 inch; may use soft, semi-soft to hard shell crabs)
4 sheets of rice paper or bánh tráng in Vietnamese (25 cm or about 10 inch diameter)
10 spring roll wrappers (6 1/2 inch x 6 1/2 inch)
1 (chicken) egg yolk, glue for sealing and attaching the whole crabs
Oil (such as vegetable or peanut) for deep frying

Method:

Rub the crabs with about 2 teaspoons of salt and wash them well with cold water.

Divide the 12 ounces of filling into 4 parts. Wet one rice paper on both sides with a little warm water. Wipe off any excess water with your hand. Spread 1 part of the filling across the lower third of the sheet and roll tightly into a thin log (about 1 inch in diameter). Use a serrated or sharp knife to cut the log into 6 smaller pieces. Press (with the flat part of a knife) any overflowing stuffing back into the ends of each piece if needed. Take a small crab, dip the belly with some egg yolk and attach it at the end of each piece. Do the same with the other end if using 2 crabs per piece. Repeat until all the filling is used. Set the pieces on parchment paper without touching. The parchment paper will prevent them from sticking to the bottom.

log roll with rice paper
cut pieces with crabs attached on both ends

Divide the 1 pound of filling into 10 parts. Lie one wrapper with the tip pointing towards you. Brush about 2 inches of the opposite tip with some egg yolk. Spread 1 part of the filling on the lower third of the wrapper. Tightly roll the tip away from you, fold in the sides and continue to roll tightly to seal. Repeat until the all the filling is used.

rolls with spring roll wrappers
Preheat the oil until it reaches about 350-375 degrees F. Drop a few rolls at a time and fry for about 3 minutes for the smaller pieces (those with rice paper) and about 4-5 minutes for the larger rolls (those with spring roll wrappers). Remove the rolls onto clean paper towels or a strainer.

fried rolls with a rice paper
seafood and meat filling

Seafood and Meat Filling (makes about 1 lb and 12 oz)

Ingredients:

8 oz crab meat
6 oz shrimp, chopped
4 oz ground pork (may substitute with chicken, turkey or another meat)
2 oz uncooked green crab roe, rinsed, strained out liquid
5 oz water chestnuts (may substitute with taro or jicama), chopped
1 carrot, peeled, grated and squeezed out liquid
1 scallion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 oz bean thread noodles (cellophane noodles), soaked in warm water about 15-20 minutes or until soft, squeezed out liquid
2 Tbsp dried wood ear fungus, soaked in warm water about 15-20 minutes or until soft, squeezed out liquid
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed, minced
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Sprinkles of onion powder
Sprinkles of garlic powder

Method:

In a large bowl add crab meat, shrimp, pork, crab roe, water chestnuts, carrot, scallion, bean thread noodles, black fungus, onion, garlic (both fresh and powder) and season with fish sauce, chicken stock powder, sugar, salt and black pepper. Mix all ingredients until everything has incorporated evenly. Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Vietnamese seasoned fish sauce

Every Vietnamese home has this house-made dipping sauce. This sauce should have a balance of saltiness, sweetness and tartness. The saltiness comes from fish sauce, sweetness from sugar, and the tartness from either vinegar, lime or lemon juice. Some people like it spicy. Some like it very sweet. If you are one of these people then load up on the chili peppers or extra sugar. Mine tends to be on the sour side. Typically I make my sauce with the same ingredients as my mother's as it is more versatile and has longer shelf life. She usually makes huge jars of sauce (to give to my siblings and me) and does not add garlic, chilies or water and her sauce can last for months to over a year. She omits chilies so everyone can eat it. When we scoop some from the jar to eat we have a preference to add finely chopped chili and garlic. Most people I know including my mother make this without a recipe and they always come out consistent every time. Feel free to adjust your seasoning according to your preference. If you find this sauce to be too strong then dilute it with a little water or fresh coconut water.

Vietnamese Seasoned Fish Sauce--makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:

1 small carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup shredded)
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, smashed, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 chilies, finely chopped (optional)

Method:

Mix carrot, sugar, vinegar and fish sauce and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Add garlic and chilies if interested.

roasted unsalted peanuts
Roasted Peanuts  

Ingredients:

Raw peanuts (with or without the skin), shells removed
Method:
Preheat a toaster oven to 300 degrees. Place peanuts on a baking sheet. Bake the peanuts for 10 minutes or until golden brown, stir every 2-3 minutes to prevent burning.

OR

Roast the peanuts (in a small frying pan without oil) over medium heat on a stove top. Use a pair of chopsticks or spatula and move the peanuts around until they are golden brown. Once the peanuts are roasted and cooled, lightly crush them with your palms to remove the skin. When you are ready to eat coursely crush them.

Helpful Hints:

*You may substitute water chestnuts for jicama or taro. I actually prefer jicama or taro but the fresh ones are difficult to find in New Hampshire. For this recipe I use canned water chestnuts. You may substitute dried wood ear fungus (also known as cloud ear fungus or tree ear fungus) for another dried mushrooms. I find that the dried mushrooms tend to have more earthy flavor and meaty texture than the fresh ones. You may substitute ground pork for chicken, turkey or another meat
*Cut the rehydrated bean thread noodles into 1/2 inch lengths. If your mushrooms have not been sliced then rehydrate a whole one, slice thinly and cut into 1/2 inch lengths.
*It is best to remove excess liquid by squeezing the shredded carrots, bean thread noodles, and mushrooms. The extra liquid will make the rolls soggy which is not ideal for deep frying. If possible it is best to use fresh ingredients and not canned or frozen.
*Unlike the spring roll wrappers, when deep fried, the rice papers will not turn golden brown.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Happy Lunar New Year!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Happy New Year)! Năm Kỹ Hợi 2019 (The Year of The Pig 2019)! Luckily for me I get to celebrate New Year twice annually! If I miss January 1st for whatever reason I still have a second chance when the Lunar New Year comes around (cccurs either in January or February)! I made this card using a few photos that I took from one of my visits to Vietnam during the Lunar New Year (Tết). The yellow flowers pictured here are known as "hoa mai". All the homes are decorated with them in the southern part of Vietnam during each Tết. They are a symbol of prosperity and good luck. Green Crab Cafe would like to wish you and your family much happiness, good health, good eats (especially MORE green crabs!) and prosperity for the coming year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetables

Often times when I have limited time (less than 15 minutes) and I want a quick meal I make a stir-fry. When I work 4 long consecutive days (in the clinic) I would cut, wash and dry all of the vegetables, and store them in the refrigerator. The day before I would thaw a few small pieces of meat from my freezer in the refrigerator overnight. Before leaving the clinic I would text my husband to cook rice and when I get home I can quickly cut, wash my meat, cook everything and we eat in 10 minutes. 

You can make it vegetarian, meat, seafood or a combination of meat and seafood. Cook the hardest vegetables first. If I have time I steam the hardest vegetables (such as carrots and broccoli) partially before using. The keys to making a good stir-fry are to keep the heat high and to not overcook the vegetables. They should be just cooked--have a bright color, maintain their crunchiness and retain most of their nutrients. I love fresh cilantro and when I have some in my kitchen I normally chop leaves from a sprig or two and add after everything has been cooked. 

I found this wonderful creative short animation on green crabs called, Attack of the Green Crabs.

stir-fried chicken and vegetables
Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb chicken thigh, sliced into bite size
1 large garlic clove, smashed, chopped
About 1-2 tsp of grated fresh ginger
1 large carrot, peeled, sliced 1/8th inch thick
1 large broccoli floret, cut into bite size
8 oz sugar snap peas, removed the strings from both sides
12 oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
1 recipe of Green Crab Stir-Fry Sauce (see recipe below)

Method:

Add oil to a heated large pan or wok. Keep the heat to medium to high. Add chicken, garlic, and ginger, saute about 3-5 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked. Avoid burning the garlic. Add carrot and broccoli. Saute until the carrot and broccoli are partially cooked. Add snap peas, and mushrooms. Saute until the peas are just cooked. Once all the vegetables and meat are cooked then in the last minute add the sauce. Stir or shuffle the pan or wok a few times until all the ingredients are coated with the sauce.

Green Crab Stir-Fry Sauce

 Ingredients:

1 cup green crab stock (please see Simple Green Crab Stock link)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce

Method:

Mix all ingredients together. May adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Be sure to stir the sauce prior to using.

Helpful Hints:

*This recipe may be too much to fit in one wok or even a large pan. You may divide the ingredients and sauce in half and make 2 batches. I made half a batch one day and the other half the next day.
*I prefer chicken thighs over the breasts since they have more flavors.
*I chose these vegetables because they are the ones that are available fresh at my local market at this time of the year. Be sure to buy the broccoli that is firm to the touch, green in color and the stalk side is smooth without a hallowed out area. If you have a broccoli stalk do not discard, remove the tough outer skin and use the interior stalk for cooking.
*It is best to use unsalted green crab stock for this recipe. If you are using salted stock then decrease your seasoning for the sauce. 
*If you would like to add sesame oil to the stir-fry then drizzle a little at the end of cooking. 

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