Posts Tagged ‘crab’

I have had the best intentions with my blog, but somehow it has been two months since I last posted. I guess it’s true what they say – “parenthood is a time warp!” Our little baby is now four months old, which is hard to believe. At her four month check-up yesterday, our pediatrician recommended that we start introducing solid food now, which is something I thought we’d wait a couple more months for. My sister-in-law gave me an awesome baby food cookbook that I can’t wait to try out, as it introduces babies to all sorts of interesting flavors; the goal is to avoid having a picky eater. Before I know it, she’ll be in the kitchen with me, and I can’t wait for that!

The recipes in this post are sushi recipes. With being pregnant, this was the first sushi I had eaten in a good year! Alton recommends the following ingredients and tools to make up a basic home sushi kit:  soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, short grain rice, Nori, a rice spoon, a sushi mat, wasabi, and pickled ginger. With those basic tools and ingredients, you should be set to try making sushi.

Sushi Rice

The first step in making sushi is preparing the rice. Ideally, for sushi rice, you want to use short grain rice. Surprisingly, my grocery store did not have any short grain rice, so I had to settle for medium grain rice. Place 2 C of rice in a sieve and rinse it three times with water, or until the water runs clear.

Place the rice in a medium saucepan with 2 C of water, stirring. Bring the rice to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, place a cover on the pan, decrease the heat to low, and cook the rice for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, let the rice stand for 10 more minutes.

While the rice sits combine 2 T sugar, 1 T Kosher salt, and 2 T rice vinegar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the vinegar mixture for 30-45 seconds or until the salt is mostly dissolved.

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Sugar, Kosher salt, and rice vinegar microwaved until nearly dissolved.

Next, dump the rice into a large wooden or glass bowl (a wide wooden bowl is ideal). Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the rice, and gently mix the vinegar into the rice, using cutting motions with a spatula. Fan the rice with a paper plate as you cut the vinegar into the rice until the rice has cooled.

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Rice, placed in a large wooden bowl and the vinegar mixture being “cut” into the rice as it cools.

Cover the rice with a moist towel until use, but do not refrigerate the rice. I think this rice tastes pretty darn good on its own, as I love its subtle sweet and vinegary flavor. Alton recommends using this rice for any sushi preparation, such as his California roll, which is up next.

California Roll

If you are new to sushi making, as I am, Alton recommends his California roll recipe for a good place to start. For his California roll, you will need your prepared sushi rice from above, sheets of Nori, a bowl of water, sesame seeds, avocado, imitation crab sticks, cucumber, pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi.

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Nori sheets, cut in half.

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Sliced avocado and cucumber matchsticks.

To begin, cover your sushi rolling mat with plastic wrap; I chose to place my mat into a large Ziplock bag. Tear your Nori in half crosswise, and place one half sheet on your pat, with the rough side up.

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A half sheet of Nori placed rough side up on a plastic-covered sushi mat.

Dampen your fingers slightly and evenly distribute rice on the sheet, leaving about 1/4″ uncovered at one long end. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds and flip the whole thing over so the Nori is facing up.

Place 4-5 thin slices of avocado so they overlap down the center of the smooth side of the Nori.

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Avocado placed down center of Nori.

Next, place pieces of imitation crab on top of the avocado, overlapping the pieces to form a solid layer.

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Imitation crab on top of avocado.

Finally, top the crab with cucumber matchsticks (you’ll need about 8 matchsticks).

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Cucumber matchsticks to finish off the roll ingredients.

To finish the roll, use the mat to roll it away from you with even pressure from your hands, trying to roll it as tightly as possible.

Dampen a sharp knife and slice the roll into six pieces, using a sawing motion with your knife. Serve the roll slices with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi as accompaniments.

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Sliced California rolls.

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A plate of Alton’s California rolls.

Oh, and when taking sushi from a communal platter, it is polite to always use the large ends of your chopsticks. I have to say that my sushi ended up extremely ugly. I obviously need some serious practice on my rolling technique! This roll recipe is a very easy way to practice, as you do not need many ingredients. You also do not have to worry about the freshness of your seafood, as imitation crab is already cooked. Of course, real crab would certainly be superior! I may make this again, just to try my hand at sushi again. I am determined to make prettier rolls, as mine were embarrassing!

In this episode, Alton also described how to make a tuna roll, though there is no link to this recipe online. To do this, place a half sheet of Nori with its rough side up on your plastic-covered sushi mat. Cut fresh tuna into narrow slices against the grain. Place/press prepared sushi rice to within 1/4″ of the edge of the Nori. Next, place wasabi down the center of the rice, followed by the fish slices. Roll the entire thing up and cut into slices.

As I type, my beloved Coonhound, Hitcher, lies next to me. He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer a few weeks ago. He has been my constant sidekick since we found him, as an abandoned puppy, on a roadside 10+ years ago. This news has been tough – very, very tough. Once again, I will use this Good Eats project to distract myself.

As the daughter and granddaughter of Marylanders, I have had my share of crab over the years. Growing up, a trip to Grandma and Granddaddy’s was not complete without a crab dinner (or 3!). Whether it was a trip to a local seafood restaurant, a family crab picking session around Grandma’s table, or a plate of Grandma’s amazing homemade crab cakes, crab was something we ate early and often. Yes, this was an episode I eagerly anticipated.

Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs

Alton’s preparation of crab legs was first in this episode. When purchasing crab legs, it is best to buy frozen legs (frozen crab has already been cooked), thawing them overnight in the refrigerator at home; just be sure to allow the moisture to drain away from them as they thaw, and consume any thawed crab within 24 hours. Alaskan king crab legs are large, so you can allot two per person.

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Alaskan king crab legs.

Working with three legs at a time, break/cut each leg into sections at the joints. Wrap the segments in two layers of damp paper towels, along with a sprig of fresh dill.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments and topped with fresh dill.

Wrap the entire bundle tightly in plastic wrap, and microwave it for two minutes on high power; the goal here is to re-heat, rather than re-cook the crab.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments, and topped with fresh dill. Wrapped in damp paper towels and plastic wrap, the whole bundle heads into the microwave.

Let the heated crab legs rest in their bundles while you microwave any remaining packages of crab. Serve the legs with ghee, which just happens to be the next recipe in this episode.

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Steamed crab legs, served with ghee.

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Alton’s crab leg method is outstanding. It takes almost no time to prepare an amazing meal, using this method. If you want to have crab legs at home, this is the way to do it.

Ghee

What goes better with crab than butter? As mentioned above, Alton recommends serving his crab legs with ghee. To make Alton’s ghee, melt a pound (I did 1/2 pound) of unsalted butter over low heat.

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Melting unsalted butter over low heat.

As soon as the butter has liquefied, increase the heat to medium.

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Liquefied butter. Increasing the heat to medium.

Continue to cook the butter over medium heat until it finishes foaming.

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Butter, foaming for the first time.

When the foaming has ceased, increase the heat to high and wait for the butter to foam a second time. Watch the pan carefully, as the butter can easily burn.

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Butter, foaming for the second time.

When your ghee is ready, the pan will have brown bits on the bottom and the butter will have darkened slightly. Strain the ghee into a clean container and serve.

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Strained ghee.

Ghee is a perfect accompaniment for crab legs, and Alton’s explanation of how to make ghee is super easy. If you prep crab legs at home, be sure to make some ghee also!

Marinated Crab Salad

Alton’s third crab recipe is for a marinated crab salad. I suppose you could just purchase crab meat for this, which is how the online recipe is written, but what fun would that be? Instead, in the episode, Alton hand picked the meat from two Dungeness crabs. Thankfully, I was able to find whole Dungeness crabs at a new local store.

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Whole Dungeness crab.

If you have never picked a crab before, here are Alton’s instructions:

  1. Flip the crab upside down.
  2. Use a screwdriver to pry off the apron.
  3. Holding the crab over a sink, pry off the back of the crab.
  4. Rinse the inside of the crab.
  5. Pull off any gray gills, discarding them.
  6. Twist off the legs.
  7. Break the remaining central core in half and pull out as much meat as you can from the tiny compartments.
  8. Crack each leg and scoop out the meat.

My crabs had already been prepped through step 5, so I just had to get the meat out.

Once you have your crab meat, it is time to make the marinade for the salad. Combine in a large Ziplock bag:  1 C olive oil, 1 C red wine vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1/4 C fresh tarragon, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Use an immersion blender to thoroughly emulsify the marinade. Add your crab meat to the marinade, pushing any excess air out of the bag. Refrigerate the crab for 4-8 hours.

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Marinade and crab in plastic bag.

Serve the crab mixture over mixed greens with lemon wedges.

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Marinated crab salad, served over greens.

This was a light summer entrée that we enjoyed on our deck. While tasty, I did feel that the delicate flavor of the crab was a little overpowered by the marinade. To me, crab is so good on its own (see the crab leg recipe above) that I would tend toward recipes that allow the crab to shine more.

Crab Fritters

Crab fritters were Alton’s last recipe in this episode, and he did use purchased crabmeat for this one. In the episode, he used a 50/50 combination of lump and special crabmeat. Since I was only feeding two of us, I used one 8-ounce container of jumbo crabmeat.

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8 ounces of crab meat.

To begin, place a rack on a sheet pan for draining and heat 2 1/2 quarts of canola oil to 375 degrees over medium heat.

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Canola oil, heating to 375.

Meanwhile, combine 1 C lump crab meat, 1 C special crab meat, 1/2 C mayo, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 t pepper.

Scoop the crab mixture with a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, rolling the balls in Panko breadcrumbs.

Alton tells you to fry the balls for 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden, but I found that my fritters were done in 3-4 minutes.

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Fritters, added to hot oil.

I served my fritters with lemon wedges.

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Crab fritters.

Alton’s crab fritters were pretty darn delicious, as they had little “filler” and loads of crab. The Panko breadcrumbs gave a crispy, crunchy shell to the creamy crab/mayo filling. These are a definite great alternative to the classic crab cake.