Ahh….. Chinese New Year was a few days ago, those who know me probably think I would cook up a big feast like the past. Guess what, I caught the lazy bug this year! The combination of a few international travel trip last year, big cook off for Thanksgiving (I didn’t post it), and being on diet, I decided to go out with friends to eat at a Chinese Buffet place to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Needless to say, the Chinese Buffet is okay, just overly salty, greasy and everything deep fried kind of dinner. I do however still have some Chinese New Year spirit left in me despite the laziness. I figure I should cook something unusual and classy just so I can get into the spirit of making special meal.
So, what’s special and doesn’t require a whole day of slave in the kitchen and still can control my portion? Soft shell crab!!! In my freezer, I have a pack of frozen soft shell crab that I bought at the restaurant supply store when I go with my friend a few weeks ago because she has member access to the restaurant supply store. It’s impossible to find soft shell crab at the regular grocery store, so when I saw it at the restaurant supply store, I just have to buy it. After all, it’s already frozen, what more damage can I do to a frozen seafood?
I decided to cook the crab on Tuesday, the day I work from home. In the morning, I took out the box of soft shell crab, which was tightly wrapped in plastic.
Upon unwrap the whole box, I’m glad to see that each crab is individually wrapped. The box says no preservative, and no additives, it’s why I bought it to give it a try, besides the price.
When I open the box, those crab is all ready to take out because of the individual wrap. There are total of 12 jumbo crab in the box, so it break down to about $2.00 each crab, which is not too bad.
I figure I’m going to have it for dinner, so let’s start with 3 crab per meal since they’re quite big. I took 3 out and left then on the tray to thaw, and put the rest back to the freezer for future, like when I’m off my diet again.
The crab seems to be in good shape, no freezer burn, nor any sign of crush or smash defect.
I went on to work from home, by evening, the crabs were already thawed, and I took them out of their individual plastic wrap. I have to say, they don’t look that appetizing, like wrinkle smash up toad just lay flat there. When I was searching for software shell crab, I learned that soft shell crab are normally blue crab that went through a phase of molting when they’re removing their hard shell. Think of it as snake replacing their skin from time to time. Apparently blue crab would go through some sort of similar process as well. When they’re molting, they become soft, I guess fisherman or seafood farmer just catch the crab while the process take place.
If I were to cut the crab using knife, it would just smash the thing and cause all the flesh to ooze out, so I just use a kitchen sears to cut each crab into four. During my research, I read that the eyes need to be removed before cooking, the crabs I got already have their eyes removed, so I was good to go.
Just like any frozen seafood, once they’re thawed, they leak a lot of liquid. I laid them on a few pieces of paper towel to absorb the moisture so that the fry batter can stick to them, and without the excess liquid to thin down the fry batter.
The fry batter is very simple, just some flour, water, salt and pepper, some chicken granule powder and baking powder. The trick is to let the batter sit for 15 minutes or so in order for the flour to become hydrate and thicken up the batter. While the batter was resting, I also heat up a pot of oil using my induction cook top burner. I decided to use the induction cook top because it heat up faster then the gas stove, and I can maintain a frying temperature better.
The deep fry process was a bit messy mainly because there were so much moisture in the crab, just like frying squid/calamari, you get splatter every where. Good thing I used the induction cook top because I can just wipe everything off easily without getting into any tiny groove like the gas stove.
The baking powder and rested fry batter is very nice, they puff up and created a thin but crispy breading. Three crab actually made up a big portion that fill up the plate.
Even though I’m off from my diet for Chinese New Year, but I still want to get everything under control after all it’s a lifestyle adjustment. To have something healthier, I had a big bowl of Spanish salad that just have some Spring mix, and olive oil dressing with some pickled olive, onion and spices.
The soft shell crab stay crispy for quite a few minutes, but the whole dish come together so quickly, I managed to enjoy them while they’re still warm and crispy. I have to say, after half a plate, they could become a bit too rich., I think mainly because I didn’t make the Wahhabi Mayo that the recipe called for as the dipping sauce. The sauce call for a few table spoon of plain yogurt, which I don’t have it in stock in my fridge so I just skip it all together. Good thing the salad is light enough to help cut down the greasiness of the crab.
The crab is not as good as what I had back home in Malaysia, but being a first time to cook it, I would say it’s quite darn good. I think if I really dry the crab up before dip into the batter, it would intensify the crab flavor more. Good thing I still have a few of the crab in my freezer for me to experiment!