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Happy Crab Day!

John Liu
2 years ago

Happy Oyster Day! was so fun that DD has decided our traditional Christmas Eve cracked crab dinner must be expanded into Happy Crab Day!


We will have cracked crab, of course. Six live large crab are patiently waiting in the cold garage, for their warm bath. We go to my favorite little Chinese seafood market, with the big tanks of live fish, lobster, crabs, clams and so on. There are also jars of dried sea cucumber, shelves of interesting pantry staples like pork sung and dried mushrooms, and this time of year, the nagging fear that The Crab Will Run Out. Fortunately, we got there in time.


We will also have crab cakes, with lots of garlic, panko, shallot, scallion, and I don’t know what else yet. I mostly just eyeball this dish, but perhaps a recipe should be consulted.


A crab chowder is being debated. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a thing, but it sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?


What else? My cookbooks don’t have many crab recipes. DD says she will search the books tomorrow, while I’m at work. It is a half day for me tomorrow.


DS wants to make the ice cream. He is not, however, interested in making crab ice cream. He is going to make black sesame gelato. The kid is developing some interesting tastes. I think I’d like to send him to Japan next summer - not totally sure how to swing that, but it’s a dream.

Comments (32)

  • annie1992
    2 years ago

    Oh, yes, I'd vote for crab chowder, it sounds delicious.

    I will admit that I am somewhat relieved that your DS will not be making crab ice cream, LOL.

    I do like just plain steamed crab, but I think Lars has a recipe for Crab Louis that sounded interesting too.

    I do have a couple of pounds of crab legs in my freezer, definitely no fresh ones here but I'll make do and they'll still be pretty darned good.

    Merry Christmas.

    Annie

  • Islay Corbel
    2 years ago

    Lovely. Crab, good, thick mayo and bread. A feast.

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  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    One of the controversies about crab is: what do you do with the “crab butter” or other crab innards?

    Opinions range from “give it all to meeeee” to “I’d rather eat boogers eww”. I like the stuff but have never treated it as anything other than chef’s treat, that is, a yummy thing that the one who is cracking and cleaning the cooked crab gets to scoop off and enjoy while doing the work.

    I went looking for actual recipes, and found little. Actually the *comments* to this old Serious Eats post had the most ideas, ranging from a sauce to filling the crab shells with cooked rice. The process described in the post itself - opening the living crab and harvesting the raw organs - was interesting but sounds complicated, and we have dungeness crab which are much larger than the blues described by the author.

    Maybe I’ll just collect the yellowish stuff, strain, add salt and actual butter to taste, and use it as a spread over toast.

    What do you do?

  • plllog
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Louie was invented for Dungeness. Iceberg, tomato, asparagus, a bit of a kick to the dressing. Good stuff,

    For classic kitsch, crab rangoon, traditionally served with thick ketchup and hot mustard for (weird) dipping,

    Choux puffs filled with crab and tiny vegetable bits in white wine sauce.

    Compressed crab rolls

    Toasted brioche with crab butter (ETA—crab compound butter, not innards)

    Bbq or tandori crab

    Chowder

    Briny crab salad on half an avocado

    Crab soufflé

    Crab terrine

  • bbstx
    2 years ago

    I’m so glad you posted this! I think we’ll have crab cakes tonight! Here is the recipe from Simply Recipes that I use for Remoulade. I need to go make it now so it is ready for tonight.



    I love soft shell crabs. Back in March I managed to get 1/2 dozen frozen ones from a fishmonger who takes orders and then brings the fish to our town. I got fairly adept at cleaning them. I loved every bite.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    2 years ago

    'Happy seafood week' here. Starting tonight with oysters.

    Crab shumai. Not sure why pork is so commonly used. I just use ginger, scallion, lemon, egg white, a tiny bit of mayo/yogurt/or cream. A bit of white miso. Same with crab ravioli using wonton wrappers.

    Tomorrow maybe crab imperial or crab cakes. A Fishermans stew or chowder or bisque. (no flour). I use rice, celeriac, parsnip in the blender with some of the broth for a bit of body but still like it 'brothy', not thick.

    Soft shells and lobster meat are frozen so maybe New Years. Smoking a couple salmon filets as we speak. Spring rolls and soft shell sushi planned.

    Imperial is a classic here. A bit old fashioned and more of a Mothers Day treat. Sack of oysters, shrimp and bushel of blue crab is more a messy outdoor Fathers Day or 4th of July. A big boil-up. Potatoes and corn on the cob.

    I have two sets of my Grandmothers crab Imperial containers. Glass and ceramic. Simple recipe. A cream cracker, oyster crackers, I use matzo, broken up a bit, a bit of butter, milk or cream to cover, stuff with crab meat, then mayo, oven until a bit bubbly brown. Served with toast points or baguette rounds.

    Link, HERE

    Mom would mix the mayo with the crab and top with bread crumbs. Similar recipe using oysters. The broken crackers at the bottom...about the size of a saltine.

    Our big issue is trying to pair down for two people. So used to prepping for a crowd.





  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    2 years ago

    Oh, you guys are killin' me! I love crab but DH is allergic to shellfish so I rarely have it (or lobster or shrimp) unless I have dinner plans that don't involve DH. Crab cakes sound wonderfully delicious today...

  • sushipup1
    2 years ago

    Oh, how we miss the lovely Dungeness, still warm from the pot at Phil's in Moss Landing, stop at Pezzini's for fresh artichokes. Fresh sourdough and some lemons, and we have a feast. I use Hellman's thinned with lemon juice for a sauce. It's a Debris Dinner.

  • Jim Mat
    2 years ago

    Re crab butter, add to scrambled eggs. In the olden days, when I had a gas stove, I would mix the egg in the shell.

    I do not know if “it” is a climate change thing, but domoic acid has become common...maybe in the olden days, because there wasn’t as much testing, people got sick.

    I first learned of domoic acid while commercial fishing in Alaska in the late 80’s.

  • sarahsocal
    2 years ago

    I am sure you already have one, but in case you are looking for a new crab cake recipe, I love this one:

    Crab Cakes

    I don't order crab cakes out anymore (when "out" was an option). I more often than not found them to be to bread-y or just not crabby enough. These are hard core crab!!

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Provisional menu for Happy Crab Day! (TM)

    Cracked crab with lemon and drawn butter - this has been SWMBO’s family Christmas Eve dinner tradition since she was little

    Crab cakes with roast asparagus - my job, we have a tub of crab meat that needs to stretch to this and the following dishes so we’re choosing dishes that don’t use toooo much crab

    Crab and corn soup - DD is making this

    Crab choux puffs - DD is making the puff part, I am in charge of the filling. I envision crab, shallot, scallion, and diced carmelized apple

    Crab spaghetti - this will be a basic garlic pasta with an accent of fresh crab and parsley

    Imperial Crab - though we will add panko because panko makes everything better

    I will also try to come up with a cocktail using the crab innards aka butter (which is really the crab’s pancreas or something). I’m thinking something with sake. But I’ll have some G & T’s as backup.

    Black sesame gelato - DS’ project, I am intrigued.


  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I know someone who is looking forward to Happy Crab Day!

  • plllog
    2 years ago

    Happy Crab Day!

    The decorations and menu make it real! :D

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    The choux have resisted success, but on DD’s third try, there is puffage. I have burned my middle finger at the first joint. Sigh. We are Behind Schedule.

  • plllog
    2 years ago

    Oh, dear! I grew up making puffs, so they seem easy. Grest that they finally puffed! But your poor finger! I hope its okay, and the crab day is being happy after all!

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Ms Bao (the cat) likes crab. But she can’t have too much - or we think she’ll barf.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Ok, quick report.

    Crab and corn soup. Nice consistency, corn not over cooked, good crab flavour, not quite enough crab, bread bowl extra credit. 7/10.

    Crab cakes. Exactly right amount of kick (from hot sauce and cayenne), nice crab flavor, held together well enough to be a burger patty (as these were served at the Krusty Krab), more bready and dense than my usual crab cake (which falls apart, could never be a burger). So, okay just not my type. 6/10.

    Crab choux puffs. These were awesome, full stop. The puffs were, I’m not a connoisseur of puffs but they seemed fine. The carmelized pear was a layer at the bottom of the puff, so your tongue first encounters sweet fruit - “pear forward” say my notes. Then the crab filling was delicious, being crab, butter, shallot, garlic, chive cream cheese, parsley, heavy cream, s & p. The pairing of crab and pear was fortuitous and very tasty. We have some puffs left and will make mini eclairs tomorrow. 9/10.

    Not pictured, crab spaghetti. This dish suffered from the neglect of familiarity. DD knows how to make pasta and sauce, of course, so because it wasn’t an interesting new dish, the execution was . . . my notes say “nice flavor, not enough crab, way too ‘al dente’, noodle stuck together, 4/10”.

    Crab Imperial. This was very different from the recipe. I left the crab innards and “butter” in the shells, added a layer of bread pieces (from the bread bowls) to absorb the butter, baked for 15 min to slightly toast the bread, covered that with the Imperial sauce, then a little Parmesan and carmelized onion, broiled for 3-4 min. This was intensely flavored, super crabby but more than that, sweet and deep and umami-ful. Wow. Sort of a rough early effort, we decided next time we’ll include some veg like spinach or squash, and toast the bread cubes better. But the secret ingredient, the crab butter, makes this dish remarkable even in its half-figured-out state. 9/10.

    Not pictured, cracked crab. To be honest, none of us could eat more than a bit of this by the time we got to it. So the cracked crab is in the fridge and we’ll eat it tomorrow and/or bring some to friends. ?/10.

    The family was not cooperating with photos, at all. 4/10.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Oh, DS slept instead of making his gelato! 2/10.

  • Islay Corbel
    2 years ago

    What a feast.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    We discussed the Krabby Patty over dinner, and the kids and I are pretty convinced that Mr Krabs is making his fortune through cannibalism.

    I found this evidence online and it is pretty damning:

    “ aside from his mom, Mr. Krabs is the only crab in Bikini Bottom, although a group of crabs appeared in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode “Kracked Krabs”, but they weren’t from Bikini Bottom. There’s also the architecture of the Krusty Krab, which has the shape of a crab trap (although it’s actually more like a lobster trap), and in the episode “Mid-Life Crustacean”, when he takes a bite of a Krabby Patty, he says “so that’s what I taste like”. “

    We also decided that Sponge Bob is not actually a plastic dish sponge who sank to the bottom of the ocean. For one thing, he has parents, who are lumpy brown sea sponges. This has been debated online as well, and further evidence includes that he has been shown using photosynthesis and filter feeding (though he also eats Krabby Patties), and that he doesn’t float to the surface (as a dish sponge would).

    But why is he yellow and rectangular? My theory is that he was kidnapped from the sea, when still a young sea sponge, and processed into a loofa product, with cutting and dye, before he escaped back to Bikini Bottom and his family. The traumatizing experience, and his disfigurement, explains why he is unstable, manic, delusional, and unable to fully integrate in fish society. His best (only) friend, Patrick the Starfish, is a similar survivor of humans, having spent time on a souvenir shop shelf before escaping back into the ocean.

    SWMBO refuses to participate in discussions like this, so it’s just DD DS and I who believe these things.

  • Lynda (Zn9b/23 - Central CA Coast)
    2 years ago

    Happy Crab day! You have got me thinking about New Year's Eve....it might have to be a Crabby New Years Eve.

  • bbstx
    2 years ago

    John, your Sponge Bob conversation sounds like my sister and her children. I’d join in too, but I’m not very Sponge-Bob savvy. Nevertheless, I’m going to pass along your observations. They’ll love it! Your crab cakes would have been better with remoulade. HA!

  • annie1992
    2 years ago

    Smart cat!

    Your whole meal looks delicious but those choux puffs look perfect, as well as delicious.

    I always thought that perhaps Sponge Bob was adopted, as he has no physical characteristics of his parents. I've also thought that Mr. Krabs was running some kind of illicit trafficking operation, luring other krabs to their eventual demise and inclusion in the infamous krabby patty.

    Happy Crab Day!

    Annie

  • plllog
    2 years ago

    But isn't Krab surimi?

  • Islay Corbel
    2 years ago

    My head hurts.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    “isn’t Krab surimi?”

    That’s what Nickelodeon *wants* us to think. But Mr Krabs was caught on a hot mike eating a Krabby Patty and making a pretty incriminating comment: https://youtu.be/4jrauqJATiM

    Even if Krabby Patties are surimi, that is not much better, as Mr Krabs might not then be a cannibal but his customers would be.

    Sponge Bob is working in, essentially, the undersea equivalent of a Soylent factory. He has figured this out and, understandably, it has driven him mad.

  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    2 years ago

    What a feast is right!

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Happy holidays Liu family. Big love to Kate from the both of us. (DH met her as well when she visited NYC)

    Impressive menu, and the written one as well. : )

    'SWMBO refuses to participate in discussions like this,...' 😂

    A shame about the crab cakes. Are they common PNWest? I'm guessing some crab is best for the recipe. Eastern blue crab is lump and might be a better texture.

    Lobster is our focus tonight. Oysters tomorrow. (some smoked). Smoked sushi grade salmon x-mas eve and have made salads the past couple days....a friend gifted homemade butter and cream cheese. He has an organic dairy farm.

    We are snacking, so taking the seafood week one day at a time. Crab fest NewYears eve.


  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    2 years ago

    Ms Bao is insanely adorable.

    Trying to guess the next feast obsession...Liu family. New Years?

  • l pinkmountain
    2 years ago

    I think you totally nailed SBSP and his starfish friend.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Crab cakes are not super common in the PNW. I usually make them with lump crab, and try to get a loose patty that is mostly crab and barely holds together. These Krabby Patty types were an experiment and not my fave.

    I don’t know if we’re going to have any more mono-ingredient raves this holiday season. We have prime rib for NYE, they are salted and dry-aging in the fridge. After that I kind of feel like eating kale, egg whites, and protein bars for a couple months. Among the 2020 things I’d like to leave behind is about 20 lbs . . . If anything, probably going to get back into Japanese dishes. DS got a bunch of Japanese cookbooks from Santa and DD and SWMBO plan to go back on keto in the New Year.

    Ms Bao is a Himalayan that our friend in Eugene found as a stray. She was so matted that they had to shave much of her fur off. It grew back, obvsly. She was declawed in front, sadly. When Eugene went into Covid lock down early in 2020, DD was stuck living alone in her college apartment so our friend “loaned” her “Missy”. Missy was renamed Ms Bao and became DD’s permanent cat, and moved to our house with DD. Unfortunately she has taken over the house and dominates my cat - which is interesting, since my cat has a full set of claws, but Ms Bao doesn’t seem to realize her lack of fighting power, and she has a rather terrifying personality when she’s angry - maybe it comes from growing up on the street. The two seem to be ever so slowly coming to terms, finally.

    At the end of this school year, DD will go to California to work at the Berkeley Echo Lake camp again, training the new staff and developing recipes and processes for the 2022 reopening of the big Berkeley Tuolume Camp that burned down in the Rim Fire several years ago. In fall 2021 she’ll go to France to teach English in the TAPIF program, assuming she gets accepted - if not, she’ll probably go anyway to travel around, visit our friends in Brussels, Marseille and Poland, and check out schools. When that’s over in spring 2022, Berkeley will hopefully hire her to run the food operations when the Tuolume camp reopens. Then she wants to go to art grad school in Europe, maybe.

    All that is by way of saying that I’m going to be stuck with Ms Bao for a while. That’s fine, she is very cuddly and has an interesting personality, even if keeping up with brushing her coat is a pain in the you know. She likes to sleep in cute places and don’t mind wearing hats.

    Our theory is that she is actually an Ewok spy, altered through plastic surgery to look more like a cat, and sent to earth to investigate our defenses. Which explains her lack of front claws (Ewoks don’t have claws, they kill stormtroopers with spears and slings), her cuddly cuteness (she’s been trained to infiltrate our household), her fierce side (the Ewoks would only choose their fiercest for this mission, and she’s pissed at the plastic surgery), and why my cat was so afraid of her (“miaou miaou that’s not a cat can’t you tell miaou miaou” and “hiss spit if you blow my cover I’ll freeze you in Carbonite you worthless earth cat hiss spit”).


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