Monday, December 29, 2008

going into battle with the crabs






i have blogged about this before here. each time i want to cook chilli crabs, it seems like i am going into battle with them. i will be armed with an array of knives, especially those with a sharp pointed end, a pair of scissors and pliers. i am quite wary of mud crabs because i had a painful experience before.

the recommended way - printed at the back of the pack - is to submerge the live crabs in cold water until they stop moving. i prefer the traditional way, the way used by my mother: that is plunging the knife right into the heart of the crab. the pliers i use are to aid me in removing the shells and the scissors are used to cut away the sharp tips of the legs.

if you use the prima's ready-to-cook meal kit for singapore chilli crab, do not use the whole portion of the chilli crab premix - which is actually corn starch, otherwise your gravy will turn out to be very starchy. use slightly more than half the portion with the same amount of water (30ml).

these days, the crabs sold at the ntuc supermarket seem to be smaller in size but the price per kg remains at $13.90. with chilli crabs, there is no need for extra ingredients. still, sometimes i add spring onion although the recommended garnishing is coriander leaves.

three of us had the chilli crabs, together with bread which we dipped in the gravy, for lunch today.

11 comments:

peter said...

Got some questions for you.

1. How do u identify male and female crab?

2. When you peel the shell-cover open, you find nasty-looking thing - beige-yellow-brown in colour. Some say it's shit, some say it's roe. Can you explain please?

yg said...

peter, both crabs that i bought yesterday had triangular flaps, so they were both males. the flap of the female crab is more like a rectangle.
i always try and wash off as much of the slimy stuff as possible before cooking the crabs.

both male and female crabs have roe but the female seem to have more.

Victor said...

I think roe is orange in colour. (When cooked, it is hard, somewhat like the texture of cooked salted egg yolk.) Anything else, eat at your own risk.

YG, you really brought out a whole array of tools just to kill the defenseless crabs. 殺雞不必用牛刀. I just use a chopstick and hammer it through the apex of the sex-defining triangular/rectangular flap at the bottom of the crab. It is a method my mother used. Very deadly and effective method.

peter said...

I had seen my mother do it this way: Use the chopper to first remove the pincer. Use bare hands to pull the shell-cover from the body. Of course the poor crab still wriggling with legs. I was told the Cantonese people prefer to see seafood "fresh" this way.

In my household everybody scare to handle crabs...Now I must teach my maid how to do it.

Icemoon said...

Peter, are you joking? You maid can handle those wild birds live cannot handle crabs?

Betty said...

The flap of the female is semi-circular. I have been told that the meat of the male crab is more tasty whereas the female has roe. Meat or roe - the choice is yours

yg said...
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yg said...

betty, american crabs have slightly different flaps. see the two pics here

nah said...

Here’s a crappy story. In the 50s, we loved to eat this small hairy crab called ‘buah kee’ marinated in black sauce. We would simply suck the claws of the crab and it went well with porridge and that was a meal. There were plenty of these crabs in the swamp at the sawmill behind Kwong Fook Chinese School where I studied. While catching these crabs, I chanced upon an old man emptying his bowels and as soon as his crap dropped into the water, it was all gobbled up by these crabs. Next minute, another man came along, catching these crabs using a ‘sapu lily’ with a loop at the end. All his catch would end up with this old lady at the wet market at Kallang Road. She put the crabs into an urn, added black sauce to fill it up, and sold it as a delicacy. Would you dare to eat ‘buah kee’ after what I had seen? Anyway, we survived!!!

yg said...

nah, yes, i remember the 'buah kee'. it looks much like a hermit crab. after your story, i don't want to recall if i had eaten any.

Betty said...

Tks yg for the info and pics. Have only seen those sold at our local markets