This recipe is from Su Rogers, my best friend’s mum–I beg her pardon for altering it a little, for I recall more of the meat is picked out of the shell in her recipe, whereas I enjoy the hard work at the eating moment. It is also the only dish in this cookbook which contains cilantro.
Before I get into the recipe, I wanted to point out a new cook the book blog. The Big Fat Undertaking–which I’m super excited about–details the process of cooking every recipe from Heston Blumenthal’s Big Fat Duck Cookbook. The guy has his work cut out for him, so consider leaving a few encouraging comments to bolster his confidence.
Also, my friend Trish recently took a trip over to the land of the rising sun, and brought back with her a ton of really cool treats that she was kind enough to share with me and a few people from our work place. I’d be remiss to not mention them all here. She also sent me the coolest cutting board ever!
The crackers on the left were filled with a tasty cheese like cream, and each cracker had a different addition, be it raisins or almonds or nori. Next to the crackers are a bunch of little hard candies that had intricate floral and fruit designs in their centers. Each one sported a different interesting flavor. The little brown balls on the right were made from sweet red bean paste and a covering of sugary frosting. They were my wife’s favorite, and she claimed dibs on all of them. In the back are some super crunchy shrimp crackers that came in an ornate metal box that had itself been ornately wrapped in gift paper. Apparently the people making those crackers are very proud of them, as the box included a little brochure that I believe explained the long history of their shrimp cracker making, and how committed to quality they are. Trish also sent me some fruit gummies that we tore through in one day, and some Durian gum that we’re still holding off on for obvious reasons.
Here it is, the world’s cutest cutting board! Look at how happy that piggy is! I’ve even found a place for you to buy one for yourself if you’re willing to part with seven dollars (and shipping and handling).
Now, on to the recipe.
As stated in the title, this dish is all about crab, so it only made sense to purchase a few live crab to work with. This hefty dungeness crab (and his comrade) were picked up at Central Market at a fairly reasonable price. The fellow in the fish department was also kind enough to fish out the liveliest pair in the tank. “Live is better,” he grunted at me. He’s 100% right, and it was nice of him to ensure I got the best product they had.
In the cooking directions, Mr. Henderson mentions that if you’re up for it, you can kill the crabs before boiling them by opening the flap you see above, taking a long knitting needle and jamming towards the crab’s head. Personally I have no problems just dropping the crabs into the water, and neither does Mr. Henderson.
The water–which was boiling before I put the crabs in–was made “as salty as the sea” to keep it from leeching into the crab and making the meat wet. For reasons I’m unsure of, one of the crab lost both of his front claws when I dropped him in. It reminded me of all of the crab that get too cold on “The Deadliest Catch” and end up popping off all of their limbs.
After the crab had cooked enough I removed them from the pot and let them cool before putting them in the fridge. Small tip: don’t put freshly boiled crab in the fridge overnight unless you want to have crab flavored ice. Ugh.
The next day before a party I was throwing, we started removing the meat from the various limbs and bodies of the crab. Mr. Henderson likes to keep the crab mostly intact, but since I was serving this to a bunch of people who were busy talking and partying I went with a version that sounds closer to the one his best friend’s mother made.
My friends Chris H. and Robert O. came right into the kitchen once they arrived and started helping me coax all of the lovely crab meat from the shells. I appreciated it greatly because with my ultra-fantastic luck I managed to wickedly slice my thumb open on a sharp edge of crab shell. Sigh.
Robert was kind enough to start working on grating the ginger that was needed for the dish. The recipe called for a whopping 1/4 pound of ginger! A fourth of a pound of ginger!? I suppose that if I had left the crab mostly in the shell that a huge amount of ginger would have been appropriate, but in this case, not so much. I stopped Robert before he grated all of the ginger and just used what he had already done, which was about two tablespoons. Thank you Robert!
As Robert grated, I worked on chopping some garlic, a few scallions and two slightly aged jalapeno peppers. The lemons were juiced, and that juice was saved for a little bit later. The aforementioned ingredients (minus the lemon juice) were all put in a pan with a splash of olive oil and sauteed for a few minutes.
All of fresh crab meat was finally added to the pan to mingle with the other ingredients and get up to temperature. Salt, pepper, and the lemon juice were judiciously sprinkled over the pan.
Right before serving, chopped parsley and cilantro were stirred into the mixture, and the dish was finished.
I’m going to quote my wife to describe this recipe: “The deviled crab reminds me a lot of deviled eggs in the sense that it was so unique, so different from everything else that it really stands alone from other crab dishes I’ve had before. I enjoyed it a lot, and there is nothing quite like fresh, real crab meat.” Another party guest had never eaten real crab meat, mistaking the fake Surimi junk as the real thing. He was very surprised by the flavor and ate more than two servings.
I too really dug this dish. It was light, refreshing, and packed full of flavor from the ginger, peppers and cilantro. You’d think that the delicate crab flavor would be lost in that taste jungle, but there was more than enough meat to cut through the underbrush and really leave a lasting impression. If I had one criticism, I’d have liked something like rice as a base to add a little more substance to each serving.
One down, sixty three to go.