Steamed Blue Crabs

We love blue crabs too, as much as people in Louisiana and Maryland if no more.  The most popular way to cook blue crabs in United States is to boil them with spices, potatoes, and other seafood.  When done, buckets of crabs and seafood are unloaded onto a table in front of customers.  All you have to do is to crack them open and eat!

But the way we eat them is slightly different from American people.  We value and enjoy the crab roe more than crab meat itself.  Most of time, only female crabs are among best sellers when it comes to seafood.

I bring back 4 to 5 pounds of female blue crabs from Asian grocery store.  The female ones are not as easy to find as the male ones.  I always stick to female ones because of their better taste and flavors, especially the ones with crab roe inside.  

Use a small brush to thoroughly clean the crabs under running water.

Set aside the cleaned crabs.

Fill a large pot with water.  Heat over high heat until water boils.  Add a steamer basket.  And then add crabs to the pot, belly side up.

Remember to pick energetic crabs like these.  They have the best taste.

Cover with lid and continue to cook over high heat for 10 minutes.

Now it is done!

Crack one open. You can see the beautifully golden crab roe.

The crab roe has a mild and delicate taste. It is sweet and slightly savory, fatty and flavorful.  The texture is mildly grainy and tastes a lot like across caviar and hardboiled egg yolk.

The most traditional dipping sauce for crabs in China is made with rice vinegar and finely shredded ginger roots. 

Grilled Scallops with Pork Belly

中文菜谱:

烤五花肉带子卷

Summer is in the air.  Let’s start grilling! O(∩_∩)O~

When we were living back in Michigan, we did a lot of camping.  And one of our favorite camping foods is grilled scallops wrapped in bacon.  Oh, trust me when I tell you that nothing tastes better than grilled scallops by the camping fire you built yourself.  (I posted it here before: Interlochen camping 5:  https://www.yankitchen.com/english-blog/camping5 )

After we moved to Texas, we haven’t a chance to go camping here yet.  But I still grill a lot of scallops and bacon in the backyard.

Ingredients:

1 pound scallops (12 to 14 pieces)
1 pound pork belly/ or bacon
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon rice cooking wine
salt to taste

 

Directions:

I usually grill scallops with bacon.  This time, I decide to try regular pork belly.  Asian people love to cook with pork belly, so that you can always find some awesome good quality pork belly from Asian grocery stores.  

Freeze the pork belly until firm.  Use a meat slicer to thinly slice it.

I am using ChefChoice 610.  The thickness can be adjusted by a notch on the top.

Drizzle a teaspoon of rice cooking wine on top.

Scallops in Texas are one of the best I have ever had so far.  They are fresh, tender with a buttery creamy texture.

Sprinkle both scallops and pork belly slices with salt and pepper.  Wrap each scallop with one slice of pork belly.  Secure with bamboo skewers.

Preheat grill to 400F/ 204C

Quickly brush the griddle with some oil.  Add scallops.

 There are 2 fishes in the background.  Grilled fish is another of my favorite. O(∩_∩)O~

Soon pork belly turns color.

Excessive dripping fat from bacons may cause the grill to flare up.  Keep a close eye on the grill.  Flip them frequently if necessary to prevent burning or over cooking. 

Shorter bamboo skewers might work better.  Long ones get burnt anyway despite the fact I soak them in the water prior grilling.

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Ok, they are getting gorgeous!

When pork belly turns amazingly golden brown and the scallops are kind of firm to touch.  They are ready.

Sprinkle with chili pepper flakes and ground cumin.  This is optional.  I just love them on grilled meat.

Bon Appetitte!O(∩_∩)O~

Bacon Wrapped Shrimps and Skewed Lamb

Summer is coming.  It is gradually getting hot outside these days, which means grill season already starts!

Our favorite grills are shrimps, scallops, skewed lamb/ beef and steak. 

Texas is famous for its seafood, thanks to its long coast line and location right next to Mexican gulf.  The shrimps and scallops here are one of the best I have ever had so far.  I used to live in Virginia and Michigan.  I thought I had some good seafood there before.  After I moved to Texas, my eyes are open to more and better quality seafood here. 

Ingredients:

10 jumbo shrimps
10 slices of bacon
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

Directions:

Thaw the shrimps in fridge.  Sprinkle with black pepper and salt.

There were 8 in the plate, and I added 2 more after I took the photo.

Peel the shrimps.  Wrap each shrimp with a slice of bacon, secured with a bamboo skewer

Meanwhile, I prepared some skewed lamb too.

We always use lamb shoulder for grill.  It is juicier and tenderer than lamb leg or stew.  They are not available in regular American grocery store.  I buy mine from H-mart.  Some Middle East grocery stores may sell lamb shoulder too. 

Cut lamb shoulder into 1/2 inch cubes.  Add salt, chopped onion, ground chili pepper, ground cumin, soy sauce, sesame seeds.  Mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 

Skew the lamb with stainless skewers

Preheat the grill to 400F.

Brush the griddle with oil.  Add bacon wrapped shrimps and skewed lamb.

Excessive dripping fat from bacons may cause the grill to flare up.  Keep a close eye on the grill.  Flip them frequently if necessary to prevent burning or over cooking. 

Skewed lamb is becoming golden brown.

When bacon wrapped outside the scallops is golden brown and the scallops are kind of firm to touch, they are ready.

Lamb is ready too.

How good does that look? O(∩_∩)O~

Bon Appetite! O(∩_∩)O~

Asian Style Hot and Spicy Crawfish

中文菜谱:

蒜蓉麻辣小龙虾

Finally, it is crawfish season! 

More and more restaurant s and stores are selling crawfishes.  Every seafood market stores in Seabrook have huge signs “live crawfish” on the outside. 

And more excitingly, there are all kinds of festivals on weekends to celebrate these delicious “mud bugs” across town too.

I love dining out to enjoy Cajun flavor crawfish boil.  I also love make very hot and spicy Asian style crawfish boil at home.

Boiling crawfish at home is quite easy and simple.  My secret weapon is hot pot soup pastes which are sold in most Asian grocery stores.  If you are into Asian style hot and spicy flavors, look for the authentic hot pot soup paste/ base manufactured in Sichuan Province, China.  

Ingredients:

8 to 10 lbs crawfish
2 to 3 heads of garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 beer
1 package of Dezhuang hot pot soup paste (300g)
1 package of Hot Space spicy hot pot soup base (320g)

Directions:

A lot of stores sell crawfish by whole sack.  One single sack weighs from 30 to 35 pounds.  But Asian market sell them loose; which means you can pick your own crawfish one by one with a thong.  So if you go to the store early, you can get largest and most active ones.

And don’t forget to bring a cooler for crawfish.  Ice is available at meat/ seafood department.  Anyone who works behind the counter would be glad to hand you a couple bags of ice if you ask nicely.

As soon as we get home, I transfer crawfish from cooler to the sink.

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With a clean toothbrush, scrub each single one crawfish under running water.

I sincerely doubt they would do that in restaurants.

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The easiest and quickest way to devein a crawfish is by removing the center part of its tail. 

All the crawfish has been cleaned and deveined.

These are two of our highly recommended and favorite hot pot soup pastes.  I use one of each to boil 8 to 10 pounds crawfish. However, 8 to 10 pounds crawfish is too much for a single pot.  I always cook them in two batches.

If you are not into spicy flavor like I do, just add the paste to your own taste.  But do remember to add some salt if you cut back on the soup base.

Peel the garlic cloves and add to a small food processor

Finely chopped

Heat a light weight cast iron wok over high heat.  Add oil and garlic.

Sautee the garlic for 1 minute or just until the garlic turns slightly golden brown.

Add two kinds of hot pot soup paste

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Add crawfish

Stir fry for a couple minutes; add beer.

Cover with lid and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that crawfish would be cooked and seasoned evenly.

This is the first half crawfish.

And this is the second half. I use a cast iron Staub perfect pan which is perfect for the job.

Serve hot immediately, maybe in a wok O(∩_∩)O~

Bon appétit!

TSINGTAO beer is very famous and popular across mainland China.  It tastes very smooth, a little bit on the light side.  It goes great with most Asian foods.

Smashed Shrimp Paste for Hot Pot

中文菜谱:

虾滑和粥底火锅

If you like Asian style hot pot, you will love this smashed shrimp paste.    

Cooked smashed shrimps taste a lot better than regular cooked shrimps.  It carries on the shrimp flavor but with a smoother and slight crunchy texture, which makes eating these tiny shrimp balls so fun.

Ingredients:

1 lb shrimps
1 egg white
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 to 2 teaspoon rice cooking wine
salt to taste

 

Directions:

Peel and devein shrimps.  There are peeled and deveined frozen shrimps sold in the store.  However, all these extra factory processing weakens part of shrimp flavor.  I always buy whole shrimps and clean them at home.  That is some extra work, but well worthy in the end.

With a cleaver knife, finely chop the shrimps.

I really mean to finely chop O(∩_∩)O~

Try not to use a food processor here.  The texture would be a lot different.

Add egg white, corn starch, ground ginger, ground white pepper, rice cooking wine and salt to taste.

With a pair chopsticks or a whisk in hand, whisk well clockwise.  The trick is to whisk hard and always along one direction.  Do not whisk clockwise for 1 minute and counterclockwise for the next minute.

I whisk for almost 10 whole minutes.  It is hard work.  The texture of smashed shrimps depends on it.

Spoon the smashed shrimps to a shallow plate.  Smooth the top with the back of spoon. 

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

The smashed shrimps can be added to soup, braised, stir fried, deep fried or steamed.  My favorite way to eat it is hot pot.

Hot pot can be as simple as a pot of water, or it can also be as complicated as a pot of slow simmered broth with a lot of spices.  I am using rice porridge here.

Drop by teaspoonfuls into hot pot

Cook until they float and turn into pink color.

Serve hot immediately.  The smashed shrimp paste has been seasoned.  Any additional sauce is not required but always welcomed to add some extra flavors.

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