Had some dear friends come by the Cookie Palace this weekend after working hard all weekend being the fabulous Fire ‘n Ice Entertainment at a local electronic music fest, and I wanted to make sure we had a proper Sunday dinner waiting for them. Even though the weather here in Dallas has been all OVER the map, from summer time hot to perfect spring to chilly, rainy, damp….my tastebuds were ready for some warm weather food and I thought I’d try my hand at making some steamed CRAB for dinner!
Having never made crab before, this required some googling. I scanned a few recipes and figured out that I could improvise around the following formula:
1. Get fresh live blue crabs
2. Use beer + aromatics to give flavor to the crabs
3. Season before steaming with salt, pepper & a lil spice if you like
4. Takes about 10 minutes to steam the crab
Pretty simple! I can handle this! But first, where to find fresh crab?? Luckily, the local asian markets yielded some live & kickin blue crabs for only $2.99/lb. Awesome deal! Part of the discount, however, is that you have to use these short tongs to grab the crabs and put them in a brown paper bag for yourself.
My lovely friend and sous-chef Judi came along with me for this adventure as we wrangled the lil guys out of a big plastic tub in front of the fish stall. I swear they give you these short lil tongs on purpose.
There may have been some screaming and shrieking, especially when a giant catfish leapt out of a fish tank and wriggled onto the floor near us. Oops.
But we got the crabs home successfully and dumped them out in the sink to take a look.
OOH la la!
But now…how the heck are we supposed to season them when they are still alive??? Am I supposed to give it a salt scrub while it’s squirming around?Holy crap, it’s like my kitchen is going to be King Spa for crabs!! Asian ladies scrub the crap out of you and then you go steam yourself til you turn red! OMG.
Turns out, a generous sprinkling of salt & pepper is just fine. No need to give the lil buggers a massage. However, we did learn, thanks to this ridiculous video, that you can indeed grab the crabs at the very back if you for some reason do not have tongs. Or, perhaps if you are hardcore like Judi.
I, on the other hand, am not so hardcore and used my extra long tongs to get those babies in the pot. What I DID learn was that if you hold them above the steam for too long, the freak out and EJECT their claws! Causing more screaming and shrieking. By me. Not the crabs.
Anyway, the crab turned out great despite our many mishaps. The flavor here is very delicate, so if you want something stronger you may want to amp up the spice level.
Serves: 12 (at 1 crab per person, served alongside other main dishes. You will need more crab if that is to be the only entree)
- 12 live blue crabs
- 3 bunches scallions/green onions
- 3 inch piece of ginger
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 1 bunch cilantro
- Handful of thai basil
- 4 bottles of lighter beer – I used New Belgium Brewing Co’s Mothership Wit + Miller light b/c I couldn’t bear to not drink more of the good beer!
- 3 TB dried minced onion
- Olive oil
- Salt, Pepper
1. Dump your crabbies out in the sink so you can rinse them off and get rid of any dirt left on them.
2. Wash & prep the aromatics:
- Take 2 of your scallion bunches and chop off the white ends first, then chop the rest of the stalk into 3rds.
- For the last scallion bunch finely chop up the green parts.
- Peel and cut the ginger into matchsticks
- With 1/2 the cilantro bunch, just cut in half. Then chop up the rest.
- Reserve 2-3 stems of basil, and then chop up another 1/4 cup-ish of the basil leaves only
- Cut the grassy tops off the lemongrass, then cut the main stem into 3 inch pieces
3. In a large pot with a steamer basket, place the lemongrass stalks in the bottom and pour in the beer. Place the steamer basket in the pot. Heat that baby up until it starts boiling. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, that is ok. The lemongrass stalks can give a lil lift at the bottom of the pot too.)
4. Once the beer is boiling, grab the crabs and quickly place into the pot. If your pot is small, you will want to layer crabs, seasoning & aromatics. Season generously with salt, pepper, and cayenne. I used about 2-3 tsp of each seasoning.
5. Place the large pieces of scallions & cilantro, matchsticked ginger, and whole basil stems on top of the crabs. Add one more dash of salt/pepper/cayenne for good measure. Close the lid and let them steam for about 10 minutes until the crab is a brilliant red-orange.
6. Remove the crabs from the pot and place on a plate. Don’t put the big pieces of the aromatics on the plate, but a few pieces are fine.
7. In a small heavy bottom pot, heat up 3-4 TB olive oil. Add the dried minced onion and stir. Just as it is turning golden yellow to brown (~30 sec), remove from heat and toss in the finely chopped scallion and stir. Pour this mixture all over your crabs on the plate.
8. Garnish the crabs with the finely chopped cilantro & basil. Serve & get ready to dig in with your hands! RAWR!!!
We served the crab with some soy sauce & sesame oil egg noodles, garlic sautéed Chinese broccoli, and Vietnamese caramelized pork with eggs.
Special thanks to Foxie for being my photographer and taking all these great pictures!
*As part of theFoodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received some New Belgium Brewing Company beer to make this tasty dish!