Chille Blue Crabs

Hands down, blue crabs are one of my favorite things to eat. Well, maybe not as they compete with pizza, tacos, and nachos, but you know what I mean. There is something about the blue crab that I truly love. Granted there is not a whole lot of crab meat on these little suckers, but it’s finger food, and to me finger food is not only fun, but it’s somewhat sexy. As I noted in the past, it’s hard to find blue crabs in Milwaukee. As I dissed an Asian market I used to go to, Anh Chau, only due to their crappy customer service, I have been frequenting a local market known as Mei Hua. I’ve been there enough where I chat with the owner, and as I always do I ask a lot of questions about produce, and seafood. I recently asked if they were going to get any crawfish, or better yet blue crab, and she sparked up, like what the heck did I know about blue crab! She stated she orders once a week, and that’s when I was sold.

Chinese Chilli Blue Crab Recipe

I pulled in the day she ordered, I think it was a Tuesday, or Thursday, and knew actually where to go. The box with what looked like to be stagnant crabs, that is until you poke them with the tongs.

One of the workers looked at me like I had no idea what the heck I was doing, and funny enough she was trying to help me (I am experienced at this, trust me, but I let her help only for my own entertainment), and we began using the tongs to toss them in a double paper bag. She insisted.

The kids were not home from school yet, and my wife was still at work, and that’s when I decided to clean these live crabs. When you do this, depending on how you feel, it’s something that you may or may not want your family around for, as basically as you are using a knife to take out the crab, ripping it apart, and tearing out it’s lungs, etc. I figured I would move quickly, and just have what I needed for the chilli crabs.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • ~ 10-15 live blue crabs, rinsed and cleaned
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup Sambal Oelek 
  • 1 large shallot, medium slice
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp fried garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, torn (optional)
  • napkins
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Start by using tongs to grab your live crab. This is always fun as they like to attack your tongs. Flip the crab over onto it’s back, and puncture it with a sharp knife, right in the middle. Yes, this is often painful to watch, but it has got to be done. Now with your knife, split the crab in half, lengthwise. The important thing here is to remove the gills, up near the face, as well as removing the apron, near the bottom. Once those are removed, rinse the crab in cold water, and set aside, repeating the process.

Keep the crabs cold, covering with a bit of ice cubes. During this time, make the sauce.

To a small mixing bowl, add the ketchup, rice wine vinegar, water, and sambal oelek. Give a good stir.

Heat a large wok, or skillet on medium heat, and let this heat up for a few minutes.

Toss in the oil, and then toss in the shallots, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry that for a couple of minutes. Now add in the crabs.

How to make Chilli Blue Crabs

Toss those crabs in the garlic mixture, then add in the sauce mixture. Carefully stir, and toss until the crabs are coated.

Cook for about 15 minutes, if that, and then pour out onto a large serving dish.

Shower with the fried garlic and fresh cilantro, and dig in. Pull off the legs, split the body, pull and crack the claws, and go for it. Suck, splurp, and suck your fingers.

My wife and kids are not a big fan of the blue crabs, and as much of that is a bit of a disappointment,   I’m not going to point fingers and blame. That just means there is more for me!

Get a bib. Get some napkins. Dig in. This is a shell sucking, shell pulling, and little fork poker feat. Sweet, spicey, garlicky, and delicious. I felt bad when my wife came home, and I probably looked like a total mess as she was trying to have a conversation with me. Yes, it was that good.

If you are looking for a fun crab dish to eat, and a fun experience (cleaning crabs), go for it. You will not be disappointed, and by the way, I have yet to go back to Anh Chau, but they do still order blue crabs from what I understand, and with hope, they have picked up their service game.

Another one to try is my blue crab curry. Whoa.

 

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Char Siu Pizza

Last week I had a real hankering do get some pho for lunch. There is this great place (finally) near where we live called Pho King. They have some of the best pho in town, in my opinion, and as I was pulling into the plaza, I noticed a new shop called Lucky’s Chinese Bakery. I had to stop in, and boy was I glad I did. This place was full on busy with Chinese workers slinging all sorts of stuffed buns. There was whole roasted duck sitting in front of me, along with char siu and crispy roasted pork. I thought I was in heaven for a second, but then I snapped out of it and began ordering. I ordered both porks, and a few buns, then went home to sample everything. EVERYTHING was really, really good.

I had plenty of char siu, a style of sweet barbecue pork that is chopped up, leftover, and as I was making pizzas on my Kettle Pizza, I decided to come up with a char siu pizza. It was great.

Char Siu Pizza Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough, rolled or tossed into 12″ round
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Chinese char siu, sliced and cooked
  • 1/2 whole jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp light cornmeal

Pretty basic stuff, but the great thing, at least in my opinion, is that you get that sweetness from the char siu that is balanced by that subtle heat from the jalapenos. A perfect marriage in my opinion.

How to make a char siu pizza

Heat your oven to the highest temperature, with a pizza stone. In my case, I use the Kettle Pizza, which I think I have mastered pizzas now, and again get it up to the highest temperature. I find that around 620 degrees, in that area is a great temperature to get a pizza cooked in a matter of minutes.

While your stone is heating up, make the pizza.

Lightly dust a pizza peel with the cornmeal. Shape your dough and lay it onto the peel.

Lightly toss on the sauce, cheese, onions, jalapenos, and sliced char siu.

Slide the pizza off of the peel onto the hot stone, and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the dough begins to cook, in my case pretty quickly, take some tongs and turn it 45 degrees to prevent any hot spots.

Once cooked to your liking, remove it from the stone, and slice and serve.

I love experimenting with new pizza ingredients, and this one was no exception. It was perfectly balanced in flavor and I will make it again if I have any leftover char siu. Hope you enjoy!

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Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

Let’s face it, we have pretty bad Chinese food in the greater Milwaukee area. Granted, if I had to chose a restaurant for takeout or dine in, it would be Fortune Chinese Restaurant in West Allis. I say that because the first time my wife and I entered, we were completely out numbered by Chinese patrons. As a matter of fact, I think we were the only caucasians in the place, and the place was packed. After dining in a few times, I came to realize they had the American-Chinese menu, and the bad ass Chinese only menu. With that said, there are American-Chinese dishes that we have known to love, and this is one of them, the shrimp with lobster sauce.

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

The name itself is a bit misleading, especially if it is your first time ordering it. The dish itself has no lobster whatsoever, but it is is typically a chicken stock with simple ingredients, that have eggs mixed in to make it a creamy whiteish/yellowish based sauce. A sauce so comforting, and creamy, that goes perfect with shrimp. As my wife really loves shrimp hong sue, I figured I would knock out this recipe and she how she liked it. Let’s say she just fell in love with this one.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb shrimp, (16-20’s), peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • Jasmine rice, cooked

Start by adding a few cups of water to a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer. Add in the ground pork, and cook for about 5 minutes. This gets out any of the meat scum (if you will), and creates a cleaner sauce in my opinion. After 5 minutes, strain and rinse. Add the pork to a small bowl and reserve for cooking in a few minutes.

Next, get a large skillet out and bring to a medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and toss in the garlic, ginger, ground pork, and shrimp. Stir for a few minutes until the garlic is nice and fragrant but not browned.

Next, toss in the chicken stock, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and Chinese wine. Stir, and let this come to a simmer.

How to make Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

During this time, add the corn starch with the water, and stir until the corn starch is completely incorporated. This is called a slurry, and helps thicken sauces. It’s a hidden weapon in American-Chinese cooking, trust me.

Once you have a nice simmer, add in the slurry and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Toss in the peas. You should have this awesome looking sauce that will remind you of all American-Chinese cooking. Next, add in beaten egg and continue to stir. The sauce should darken a bit when the egg is incorporated.

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce Recipe

Now you are ready to serve.

To a serving bowl, add some rice, and ladle in some of the shrimp with lobster sauce. Garnish with sliced green onions and dig in.

The end result is nothing short of comfort food. You get this awesome smooth sauce, succulent shrimp, that is balanced by subtle hints of garlic and ginger. It’s a quintessential dish that should be served more times than none. I hope you enjoy!

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb shrimp, (16-20’s), peeled and deveined
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup of frozen peas
  • Jasmine rice, cooked
Instructions
  1. Start by adding a few cups of water to a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer. Add in the ground pork, and cook for about 5 minutes. This gets out any of the meat scum (if you will), and creates a cleaner sauce in my opinion. After 5 minutes, strain and rinse. Add the pork to a small bowl and reserve for cooking in a few minutes.
  2. Next, get a large skillet out and bring to a medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and toss in the garlic, ginger, ground pork, and shrimp. Stir for a few minutes until the garlic is nice and fragrant but not browned.
  3. Next, toss in the chicken stock, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and Chinese wine. Stir, and let this come to a simmer.
  4. During this time, add the corn starch with the water, and stir until the corn starch is completely incorporated. This is called a slurry, and helps thicken sauces. It’s a hidden weapon in American-Chinese cooking, trust me.
  5. Once you have a nice simmer, add in the slurry and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Toss in the peas. You should have this awesome looking sauce that will remind you of all American-Chinese cooking. Next, add in beaten egg and continue to stir. The sauce should darken a bit when the egg is incorporated.
  6. Now you are ready to serve.
  7. To a serving bowl, add some rice, and ladle in some of the shrimp with lobster sauce. Garnish with sliced green onions and dig in.

 

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Spicy Stir Fried Celery

I don’t know if you are like me, but it often bothers me when I go to the store and buy a bunch of celery, let’s say for just using it in chili, and granted it is a bit pricey (as far as I am concerned), and then you are left with a bunch of leftover celery. The celery is placed in my bottom refrigerator door, and if not opened in time, well it gets forgotten and then tossed. Never a good thing. So recently I decided to combat that waste and do something different with the celery, and turn it into a spicy stir fried celery.

Spicy Stir Fried Celery

I wanted to have the celery shine and as I was thinking about what I could do with the ribs of celery, I looked over to my lazy susan filled with condiments, and immediately looked at the Chinese fried red chili oil I had made in the summer.

Let’s get started.

  • 4 ribs of celery, but into large match sticks
  • 3 tbsp Chinese chili oil
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts, optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt, to taste

Start by heating a large skillet, on medium-high heat, for about one minute.

How to make spicy stir fried celery

Add the chili oil, and toss in the celery. Cook for about 3 minutes, tossing and stirring along the way. Remove and pour onto a plate. Season with salt, and shower with the crushed peanuts.

Dig in.

The result is really, really good. If you have not made the chili oil yet, please do it. IT’S AWESOME. The great thing about this recipe is that it goes really quick, and it is a great use of celery. The subtle spiciness, along with the peanuts, really make this a great side dish, or snack for that matter. Hope you enjoy.

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