Got stress? Try Black Pepper Crab.

 

Full recipe for Asian-style Black Pepper Crab is at the end of the article.

 

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the type, when you have an agenda and nothing goes right. You accomplish nothing. In fact you go backwards.

Ugh, so frustrating.

Well a couple of weeks ago I had one of those days. Nothing was going right, nothing worked right. Everything I tried to do failed.  And here is the kicker, my wife had one too, on the same day. Now that sounds fun, huh? No. Not fun at all. 

After getting absolutely nothing done that I wanted to accomplish most of the day, plus talking to my wife on the phone and hearing her vent about her not so awesome day, I had one thing left I could do.

Go see my buddy Russell and talk about the new start-up we are doing FinFixx.com and maybe get something done on that. I drove to his office and after a small "woe is me" session we got to work. A little bit of ground was covered and we seemed to move in some good directions.

We actually got some stuff done, whoah!

While meeting with Russell I did get one more phone call that I just shouldn’t have answered because it was yet another one of bad news.

So Russell says to me, "let me talk to my wife, but would you and Jennifer (my wife) like to come over for dinner tonight and I'll make you Asian-style black pepper crab? I'd really like you to try this. I think you will like it and maybe we can just sit around, cook, have some wine and chill out on your frustrations."

I called my wife, he called his and the plan was set.  I brought over some good wine, they had everything else, including fresh dungeness crab.

"By show, I mean Russell had a show going on while making this meal of crab.

From the headlamp on his head, the array of spices and oils and such laid out, to the propane cooker and the bowl of crab, it looked like a show."

Now I have cooked and eaten dungeness crab pretty much every way possible as it is one of my favorite foods ever and I crab as much as possible. I catch so many crab that my crab cooker has a permanent spot in my backyard for it's nearly everyday use during the crab season.

So when Russell and Noriko (Russell's wife) invited us to have crab the way they like to make it I was more excited to have someone else cook for me and relax with some good wine than to try another preparation of crab.

We sipped wine, okay, maybe drank wine, ate cheese and the show started.

By show, I mean Russell had a show going on while making this meal of crab. From the headlamp on his head, the array of spices and oils and such laid out, to the propane cooker and the bowl of crab, it looked like a show.

This all happened right outside his kitchen in the side yard where we were surrounded by ferns, trees, rocks and plants. If you didn't look backwards towards the house you felt like you were camping. I like it, my style.

The sound of the propane cooker rushing a burning flame of heat and the cabernet sauvignon in my left hand made me happy. Oil went in the wok, crab went in the wok, spices flew on top of it all and flames shot out and up all over the place.

It smelled good.

Russell's headlamp beam darting back and forth meant a lot was going on. And I really didn’t care what all was going on, nor did I fully pay attention cuz now I was just telling crab and fish stories and forgetting about that crappy day that had just occurred.

"It was not for the proper as your fingers, your lips and chin all got a bit sloppy. But hey, wasn't cotton candy as a kid at the fair one of the best foods ever? It was messy too. Most of the great things in life are a bit messy."

The evening was proving to be awesome, especially after I got Russell's wife Noriko to dance in her hubby's over-sized rubber boots, on the porch, in the rain, well, all was well and that rough day was just a distant memory.

Then it happened. We went inside and ate. We sat at the counter in the middle of the kitchen and dug into crab like I have so many times before. Only this time it was Black Pepper Crab and I didn't have to cook it. It was freaking good. It was not for the proper as your fingers, your lips and chin all got a bit sloppy. But hey, wasn't cotton candy as a kid at the fair one of the best foods ever? It was messy too. Most of the great things in life are a bit messy. 


The pile of yummy crab which at first looked too big for us all to eat, like it could have fed a small army was now dwindling to the point there might not be any leftovers. That is how good the crab was. It was awesome. If I was a food snob I would say it was delicious. It was so good we eat way more than our bellies needed.

So tasty.

And the once rough and tough day my wife and I had was gone. Not even much of a memory. We left Russell and Noriko's house full, satisfied and happy. How can you beat that?

So if I were you, and you have some crab that you would like to make a delicious new way with, try this recipe. It’s so good and worth it. Asian-style Black Pepper Dungeness crab is now one of my favorites. Eat it and all will be well.

 

And remember: Any fish is good fish. ;)

 

 Rico

 

Asian-style Black Pepper Dungeness Crab

Inspired by Ray’s Boathouse Recipe - Buy the Book

 

The Crab, etc

2 lb Dungeness Crab, cleaned (backshell, guts removed

¼ cup canola oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Bunch of scallions, chopped into sections, green and white

 

The Sauce

1 tablespoon coarsely crushed black peppercorns

¾ cup sake (rice wine)

5 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ cup oyster sauce

¼ cup mirin (sweetened rice wine; or 2 tb sugar, as a substitute)

¾ cup chicken

 

Prepare the black peppercorns
This recipe relies more upon the flavor of black pepper, than the heat. To remove the heat, but leave the flavor, requires boiling the heat out of the pepper. Start by wrapping the crushed black pepper in a pouch of cheesecloth and tie it off with string. 

Place the pouch into boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes, then drain the water and repeat this process approximately 3 times. This will remove most of the heat, and leave the flavor. Use fewer cycles of boiling if you want heat, use more if you want less heat.

While the black peppercorns are going through the boil cycles, prepare the crab.

Prepare the crab
This recipe relies upon fresh, uncooked crab. After removing the back, guts and other nonedible bits, break the crab in half so you have a claw and 4 legs on each half. Then, break each half in half, so you have a piece with a claw and 2 legs attached to body, and a piece with just 2 legs attached to body.

Take a heavy knife and crack or cut into the claw and leg shells. Don’t break pieces apart; simply crack, cut or crush each piece enough so that pan sauces will penetrate the shell to the meat.

Prepare Onions, Garlic and Cornstarch
Mince the 4 garlic cloves and set aside in prep dish.

Clean scallions, then cut into 2” sections, using both green and white parts. Set aside in dish.

Prep the cornstarch and water mixture, and set aside in prep dish.

Prepare the Sauce
Combine sake, soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin and chicken stock into a mixing bowl and stir well. Add the crushed black pepper, and stir.

Cook the crab
Using a wok (preferably), heat the wok as hot as you can get it. Add canola oil after the wok begins smoking. Add half the crab to the hot pan, and watch for flare ups. Toss the crab in the wok until you see the body meet start to go opaque and the crab shells begin to turn red.

 
Set aside the first batch and cook the second batch, following the same process.

Combine crab and sauce
Combine all the crab into the wok, and add the crushed garlic and scallions. Toss and turn the mixture until the garlic has cooked and started to soften. Don’t burn the garlic. Then, add the scallion sections and toss. Cook just until the scallion sections begin to soften. 


Next, give the bowl of sauce a stir with the whisk to remix the ingredients, before pouring over the crab in the wok.

Let the sauce come up to a boil, frequently stirring the crab into the sauce to evenly coat. After the sauce has boiled for a few minutes, and you’ve tossed the crab in the sauce for a few minutes, then add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce to thicken the sauce.

Pour crab into a serving and enjoy. Don’t be bashful about getting your fingers sticky with the sauce. It’s part of the experience. Serve with rice to sop up the juices in your place. Pairs well with a dry white wine.