Tuesday, March 01, 2005
My roommate introduced me to the beauty of dungenesss crab season in CA. I never thought about steaming live crab at home before my roommate brought a pair home from the ubiquitous Asian supermarket, Ranch 99. I was terrified of them, especially since I had a horrendous experience with Blue Crabs in NC (they crawled out of my sink and on to the floor!!!). But no more. Now, I've come to learn the error of my ways - these steamed crab dishes are ~$30 per crab at seafood restaurants and ~$7 at home! And they taste just as good, if not better at home!!!
The best part of having crab at home is that I can eat my crab with whatever seasoning my heart desires - and for me, it's usually ponzu with momiji-oroshi. Ponzu is the Japanese citrus soy sauce, composed of equal parts soy sauce, bonito or other 'dashi' broth, and juice of your favorite citrus. I love yuzu ponzu, but since I can't readily find yuzu here, I just use about 90% orange and 10% lemon juice. I also add a little bit of rice vinegar and mirin to round off the flavors. I use this exact same ponzu batch to make the cucumber seaweed salad, which is just reconstituted seaweed and chopped cucumbers. I like my cucs chopped in semi-large blocks, since then, they maintain their crunch even after soaking in the ponzu bath a while.
For condiments, we add chopped cilantro and momiji-oroshi, which is grated daikon with hot peppers. We jam the hot peppers into the daikon before grating the daikon. Ponzu without momiji-oroshi is like a bow without an arrow, a king without a queen, an electron without a proton, yin without yang (this last one is my very Asian roommate's contribution...). You get my point...
My roommate also brought home this Vietnamese pastry, which is what he thought of when he had that rice flour-y dessert in Paris. I definitely agreed with him that the rice flour-y center was near identical, but the crust was very different. The French was had a thicker crust that was a lot sweeter than the Vietnamese version. I have to say that I definitely prefered the French version, since I liked the crust better than the innards anyway and this Vietnamese one was predominantly innards. Interesting similarity, though. I wonder which one came first... Any thoughts?