Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chili Crabs V2

Doing this dish from buying it to eating it was such an adventure! A friend of mine told me about a place he found along coastal road that sold seafood. After having breakfast near the bay walk, having my daughter run and play and then hear mass, we decided to look for this place which I assumed to be a small fish port. A few minutes along coastal road after Uniwide Coastal Mall, we saw a couple of old worn out huts along the shore. When we parked, I realized that the place seemed familiar to me, though I recall it to look a lot better. There were also a few other people that just arrived. As they stepped out of the car, they had big baskets with them. They were ready, and I had a small Styrofoam ice box. :)

It was noon when we got there and smell around the place was pretty intense, but since I’m no stranger to that being used to wet markets, I adjusted after a couple of minutes. There weren’t that many selling seafood, I guess it’s because most of the dealings there happen early in the morning. What was available were, lapu-lapu (grouper), squids, bangus (milkfish), alimango (mud crab), prawns and a couple of other fish varieties. I went there with the intent to buy prawns which I was told was pretty cheap. However, this market being quite far from where I live, I decided to make the most out of the trip. I bought a kilo of medium sized prawns for 180/k, 3 1 kilo groupers for 150/k and 100/k and mud crabs for 180/k which I bought 2. Cleaning the fish was charged P10 per fish, though I suggest if you know how to clean a fish, to just clean it at home.

Since the fish port was on the south bound lane of road, I had to go through the toll gate to get on the opposite lane. When I was paying the toll fee, I told the lady at the booth that I was immediately turning back and asked for the nearest u-turn slot. She told me that there was one before the barrier. I didn’t realize that the small gap between the orange cones was what she meant and before I knew it, I was already passing the barrier and had no choice but to go all the way to the end and make my u-turn there. Since it was a Sunday, there was hardly any traffic and the trip was fun since I kept telling my daughter that the crabs escaped and were crawling in the car floor. First time I said that, I saw my wife with her feet up as well. :)

When we got home, we had lunch and slept for a while, it was a fun and tiring morning after all. I got up around 3pm and proceeded to “process” the crabs. I should’ve paid attention to Marketman’s suggestions when choosing crabs, because one of the crabs died ahead of schedule. The other one was very alive and very active. This time, I followed Marketman’s instructions on cleaning the crabs.

After cleaning and quartering the crab, I noticed that the tip of the knife I used was missing. This was a cause of concern and I started looking for the tip in the sink and the crab. Needless to say, it’s potentially deadly if the tip was left somewhere and cooked with the crab. Our maid was on her day off and I had to text her whether the knife was missing the tip even before I used it. I sent her a text message and she replied about half an hour later and to my relief, she said that it had broken off quite some time ago. I never noticed this since I prefer to use a cleaver.

Upon reading a few recipes from, and, I came up with a combination that I thought was good for our taste. I am the only one who can really stand spicy food at our home so I had to manage the spiciness of the dish. I’m not a real fan of crabs either, but I know my wife and mom really like it, so I’m basically cooking this for them.

I started with sautéing grated ginger, minced garlic, chopped onion & coriander, minced chilies and one bunch of lemongrass. I then added water and placed the crabs in the pot. Next, I added tomato paste, salt and pepper. I mixed the crabs a bit for the sauce to cover it and left it till it was cooked. When the crabs were cooked, I added cornstarch and a beaten egg followed by onion leeks and spring onions. After a minute or so, it was ready to be served.

The claw crackers and those pointed little things which are used to get the crab meat from small places were ready. Forget about the spoon and fork, your hands are the best tools to enjoy this dish. Though I did crack the claws prior to cooking, I didn’t crack it to the point of it breaking off easily. A claw cracker is still needed for this. My wife asked for my help in cracking a claw and as I cracked it for her, I pressed too hard and broke the claw in half, splattering all the sauce inside onto the table and my shirt. Eating crabs should mean newspapers on the table for an easy clean up afterwards, good thing the table cloth was due for cleaning and me, a bath. :)

Really an adventure, really a good meal!

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