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Sunday 29 January 2012

Singapore Chilli Crab

The new seafood shop in Harris Farms is absolutely beautiful and I have been wanting to take advantage of their steady stock of otherwise rare finds. First, the live crabs. Singapore Chilli Crab was the only preparation that I considered. I can't imagine a better way to eat crabs.

Looking at recipes online, however, was a bit discouraging. They varied widely. I hadn't had Chilli Crab in almost a year, and never in Singapore, so I was not confident in recognizing what would be more authentic. The one consistency was to use a tomato-based sauce, which was not how first thought to make it, but I eventually came to understand how it would come together. All of them added sugar, which I did not accept at all. Why add sugar to a sharp sauce you are serving with sweet crab meat? Some recipes steamed the crab first, some cooked in the aromatics before introducing the tomato base, and of course some cooked the crab straight in the sauce as I imagined would be the best way to do it. My final recipe is taken mostly from one on the The Gourmet Forager blog.

We bought two mud crabs about 800 g each. They killed them and cut them in quarters for us at the shop (using a band-saw).

  1. Saute finely chopped garlic, onion, galangal, lemongrass, and very hot red chilli peppers along with Crispy Prawn Chilli (basically dried chilli mixed with shrimp paste).
  2. Stir in tomato puree, tomato paste, stock, and fish sauce. I use homemade shriphead stock.
  3. Bring to a simmer then drop in the crab parts.
  4. Cover and cook over medium high heat stirring occasionally until all the crab is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the crab to the serving plates.
  6. Stir an egg into the sauce.
  7. Smother the crab with the sauce.
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, basil leaves, and spring onion.
  9. Get very dirty.

Eating this is a very special experience.

Singapore Chilli Crab 1

Singapore Chilli Crab 2

Monday 12 September 2011

Mussels Tom Yum

The other weekend I was craving two things: mussels and Tom Yum soup. I decided to join them together and the result was perfect.

Tom Yum soup is delicious and very easy to make, but shrimp is not my favorite seafood. On the other hand, a big bowl of mussels always leaves a broth you want to slop up but is too rich to enjoy as a soup. So, why not make mussels in a Tom Yum broth that can be enjoyed as a soup along with the mussels.

1. Bring the stock to boil - when I looked for recipes the first time I made Tom Yum, some called for chicken stock and others for plain water. I thought that a light shrimp head stock would be perfect, but I did not have time to source fresh whole shrimp, and now with mussels there would be no shrimp at all. For my first Tom Yum I used fish stock, and although the Tom Yum was about the best I ever had but the fish stock undertones where a bit too much. For the mussel version I used vegetable stock diluted with water and white wine.

2. Add sliced galangal, sliced lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves and bring back to boil (for the mussels version I lost out on galangal and kaffir lime leaves in order to procure the good mussels, so I replaced galangal with ginger and added some coriander stems as an extra aromatic).

3. Add fish sauce, chili paste, shrimp paste, and mushrooms and bring back to a boil.

4. Add fresh lime juice and fresh cut chili peppers.

5. Add the kinkawooka mussels and cooked cover stirring often until all opened.

6. Stir in fresh coriander leaves at the very end.

7. Serve the broth in bowls topped with mussels, and the remaining mussels in a big bowl for sharing.

Eating was a continuous struggle: soup or mussels? soup or mussels? soup or mussels?