SNOW! We have Snow!!!
Snow means working from home. Working from home means I can work AND cook. Working and cooking means I can try new recipes from the cookbooks that have been arriving in the mail, calling my name and torturing poor David. And let's be honest....nothing says "I love you" quite like the gift of crabs.
It seems like everyone released a cookbook this fall, and there are some incredible new publications on the market. None of them were more greedily anticipated in this house than Teage Ezard’s new book, “Gingerboy.”
If you read this blog (thanks to both of you who do), you know I’m a huge Ezard fan. An Australian celebrity chef and owner of multiple restaurants, his food is the Asian-influenced, sweet/salty/spicy goodness that never ceases to pull me in. When I read about Gingerboy coming out, I scrambled to get my hands on a copy. Well worth the effort to procure it from Australia, it is a GORGEOUS book, with beautiful pictures and recipes that will make your mouth water. Cocktails, small plates, shared plates and desserts are the format, ranging from very simple to the recipes I love where there’s a little more time investment required.
Last night my friend Becky threw an impromptu potluck, anticipating the snow (which didn’t arrive until late last night where we live). We made this soft shell crab dish as our contribution and it was a hit. Hope you like it too! My next attempt will be his Smoked Baby Chicken with Tomato and Eggplant Sambal. Stay tuned…
Just a note: the only adjustments we made to this recipe were to add more chile to the dressing to make it a little more atomic hot and using a bit more of the peppersalt blend than called for in the recipe. Delicious!
Thanks to Becky Selengut for styling and shooting the photo while I slaved over the hot stove. I have to do EVERYTHING around here!!!
Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab with Chile, Lime and Palm Sugar Dressing
Adapted from Gingerboy, by Teage Ezard
Serves 4 to share
Chile, Lime and Palm Sugar Dressing
170g light palm sugar, grated
1 Tbsp water
200 ml lime juice
4 Tbsp fish sauce
2 red bird’s eye chiles (thai chiles), finely chopped
½ tsp chile powder
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab
6 soft shell crabs, quartered and cleaned
3 tsp salt and pepper mix (recipe below)
150g (1 cup) plain flour
750ml (3 cups) vegetable oil
1 large handful coriander (cilantro)
3 garlic chives, finely chopped
1 red bird’s eye (thai) chile, thinly sliced (optional)
1 iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
Chile, lime and palm sugar dressing Place the palm sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice, fish sauce, chile, chile powder, garlic and kaffir lime leaf. Set aside to allow the flavors to infuse.
Salt and pepper soft shell crab Place the crabs on paper towel for 15 minutes to absorb any excess liquid. (Note from Marc: Because we bought ours frozen, we found it useful to squeeze the excess water from the crabs between layers of a towel to help it crisp up.)
Mix 2 teaspoons of the salt and pepper mix with the flour in a large bowl. Dust the crabs with the seasoned flour until completely coated.
Heat the oil in a wok to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit) – you can test if the oil is the right temperature by dropping in a cube of bread; if the bread browns in 30 seconds the oil is ready. Deep-fry the crabs for 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Lightly season with the remaining salt and pepper mix.
Combine the cilantro, garlic chives and chile, if you like it hot, in a large bowl. Add the crab and gently toss. Drizzle the dressing around the outer edge of four shallow serving bowls, place a neat pile of lettuce in the center of each plate and top with the soft shell crab.
Salt and Pepper Mix
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
100g sea salt
Toast all of the ingredients in a wok for 2-3 minutes, or until a nice aroma is being released. Set aside to cool.
Transfer the salt and pepper mixture to a mortar and pestle and pound into a find powder. Pass through a fine sieve.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Makes 1 Cup