Crab mentality

EAT’S EASY - Ernest Reynoso Gala () - December 1, 2011 - 12:00am

There are three species of creatures who when they seem coming are going, when they seem going they come: diplomats, women, and crabs. — John Hay, 19th-century American diplomat

 If you fancy eating crabs like me, you know you are in for a delightfully sinful treat. Thanks to its succulent flavor, each comforting bite appeals to the senses. There are various methods of cooking crab, but the basic principles of “fresh is best” and not overcooking it still applies. Whether laden with spices or steamed, then doused with plenty of butter, it never fails to draw a reaction for those who partake of it.

There are countless varieties of crabs, with some smaller than the size of your thumb to as large as the size of your car rims. The most expensive is the Alaskan king crab, which can roughly weigh up to 20 pounds and can only be caught in the deep seas of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and parts of Russia. The three choices are red, blue, and golden, with the red most sought for the meat. Crab fishing peaks during winter, from October to January, with prices varying from $25 to 30 per pound, as catching this highly prized commodity is considered “one of the most dangerous lines of work known to man,” as seen on the Discovery Channel. Only male crabs are kept. Its rich meat is full of minerals like zinc, iron, iodine, calcium, and it’s a great source of high-quality protein. When buying fresh crabs, the parts to consider are the claws and the meat. Male crabs have bigger claws, while the female version has more “lump meat” found inside. The hybrid version, which has big claws with plenty of meat can be found — though it’s less available — in the market. Male crabs have a pointed underbelly while the female is round in shape.

When preparing crab it’s best to cook it by plunging it in boiling water alive or slowly freezing it in the freezer just before cooking to make it “sleep.” Less stress allows the meat to remain tender and sweet. In Chinese cooking, it is continuously tossed in a wok over a high-pressure stove to help maintain its soft texture. A crab is almost done when its shell has changed color to pink, and removing the gills is a must because of its unwanted bitter flavor. The choicest meat is found in the back-fin area, while the yellow fat is collected and later processed and bottled to make “taba ng talangka” or crab-fat sauce. Pressing the soft joints near the claw and near the eye for fat helps in checking for good quality, as many sellers add water to make it weigh more on the scale. Overcooking will make crabmeat tough and stick to the shell, making it flaky and dry to the touch. Cooking it correctly will make it moist and juicy, making for an utterly luxurious treat. Textured cream sauces go well with its delicate flesh, though with this splendid ingredient, the cook needs to do very little else as the combination of sweet and salty is all too tempting. Fried, steamed, baked, or boiled, crabs have great presence at the dinner table, gently reminding us all that eating is one of life’s biggest pleasures.

Crab Louis

1) Mix in a bowl 2 cups washed and drained frozen crab meat, 1 cup Magnolia mayonnaise, 1/4 cup taba ng talangka, 1/4 cup chopped spring onions, 1/4 tsp. pepper. Place on top of crab shells or salad-lined romaine lettuce. Top with 1 cup grated Magnolia Quickmelt cheese. Bake for 5 minutes in oven toaster or 10 minutes at 350 F or 175 C.

2) Note: 16 pieces shredded crabsticks may be used in place of frozen crabmeat.  

Chili crab sushi

Chili Crab Sushi

By chef Chi Pin Han of InterContinental Hotel Singapore 


1 whole crab

2 eggs

1 bundle Chinese parsley

10 pcs. crab claws

50g kani miso (crab paste)

100g crab roe

1 bundle mizuna (Japanese vegetable)

2 sheets nori sheet (Japanese seaweed)

300g steamed rice

1 pc. long onion

half loaf French loaf

Chili sauce mixture

50g red chili

15g red chili padi

5g dried red chili

15g dried prawns

15g garlic (peeled)

15g shallot (peeled)

Procedure for sauce:

Blend the above items to a paste, and then add the following items to make the chili sauce mixture.

50g tomato sauce

400g chicken stock

1/2 tbsp. chicken powder

1 tsp. fine salt

1 tsp. sugar


1) Steam the crab and remove the crabmeat from its shell.

2) Mix the crabmeat, crab miso and crab roe together.

3) Spread the steamed rice over the nori sheet (Japanese seaweed) and roll with the crabmeat, crab roe and crab miso mixture with mizuna vegetable.

4) Roll it like a sushi reverse roll and cut the roll into small pieces.

5) Heat the wok and stir-fry the chili sauce mixture. Add in remaining crab roe and crab claws into the gravy, then add in the eggs.

5) Separate the gravy from the crab claws and put the gravy onto a plate. Place the cut sushi rolls on the plate and arrange the crab claws nicely around the sushi roll.

6) Garnish with slices of French loaf and top with Chinese parsley and shredded long onions.

Discovery Of The Week

Congratulations to pastry chef Roselyn Tiangco, a graduate of Ecole Lenotre Patisserie, France, reputed to be the best pastry school in the world (where I also studied). She’s opened Kitchen’s Best, 31st corner 3rd street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, tel. 585-3024, where one can taste of one of Manila’s 20 best cakes and desserts named after her dad, a papal awardee, “Le Gateau Mon Pere” (purple yam cake). Also a must-try is the mouthwatering and ultra-creamy white chocolate macadamia brittle cheesecake.

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For recipes and a schedule of classes visit www.sylviareynosogala.com or www.facebook.com/Sylvia Reynoso Gala Culinary or call 671-4489 or 98.

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