Thai Curry Mussels

It was not too long ago when fresh mussels were on sale at one of our local grocery stores. In the past, I typically would buy them frozen, then steam them but as they were fresh, I decided I would go all in. It was my kids last day of school, and I figured I would throw it out there and see if they would be keen on the idea of having them as an end of year celebration. Low and behold they did and I decided to buy a few pounds of mussels. What’s funny is that one of my pickiest of eaters (he’s getting much better) was stoked about eating them. So I arrived home, and got to work. At first I thought I would do a simple wine and butter sauce to steam the mussels in, but then I quickly turned my attention to making a killer Thai curry and coconut broth, introducing something a bit different to them. These Thai curry mussels had just the right amount of heat that did not distract from the flavor of the mussels, and my kid ate a ton of them.

Thai Curry Mussels
Thai Curry Mussels

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 can of Thai green curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 lbs fresh mussels

Simple stuff here, and feel free to use other types of curry paste. I used the prik king curry paste from Maesri which is a spicy ginger style of curry paste, and one that I really like, but feel free to use their red or yellow paste if you have that in stock.

To a large pot, large enough to house the mussels, get the heat going on medium heat. Add the canola oil and bring it to a light smoke, only a couple of minutes, then add in the green curry paste. Stir, and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add in the coconut milk, and water, and stir to incorporate and break down the curry paste. Once this comes to a simmer, add in the mussels.

Make sure that all of the mussels are closed, and feel free to scrub off any exterior beard material from the mussels ahead of time should they not already be cleaned.

Thai Curry Mussels
Thai Curry Mussels

Stir the mussels into the coconut curry mixture, then cover, and cook and steam the mussels until they all open up.

Please note, that any mussels that do not open up, then discard.

Once the mussels are all opened, pour the mussels and broth into a large serving bowl and dig in.

Feel free to serve these with some nice crusty bread, or spoon the broth over some cooked jasmine rice.

It was funny watching my oldest go to town on these. He could not stop eating them, and he loved the spice from the broth. These Thai curry mussels were a great way to end the school year that’s for certain. Hope you enjoy!

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.

 

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.

 

Cajun Style Split Pea Soup

Nearly once a year I always make split pea soup. I’m probably the biggest fan of it in my household, and I’m fine with that. There is something special about this soup, and it may come from the smokiness of the ham, but ultimately it is not only satisfying as it is truly comforting. So this past Christmas, my mother-in-law offered me the ham bone as she typically always does, and I never decline. I’m a fan of the ham bone as well, and I know exactly what I am going to do with that ham bone every year, and that is to make a split pea soup! This time around however, I decided to change things up a bit, and add a few additional items to the soup and turn it into a Cajun style split pea soup. I’m glad I did, because this just elevated the wonderful flavors.

Cajun Style Split Pea Soup

Lets get started.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • 4 whole carrots, roughly chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 whole onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 ham bone, with ham to spare
  • 1/2 pound of split peas, washed and reviewed
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 whole links of Andouille sausage, sliced into chunks
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 6 whole shrimp, deveined, peeled

Start by adding your stock and hambone to a soup pot. Make sure you are able to have enough stock to submerge the ham bone, if not, add some water. Toss in 2 carrots, 2 ribs of celery, and two onions. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 4 hours. I actually started mine in the evening and just let it cook down overnight.

After the four hours, or overnight cook, remove the ham bone and any of the large pieces of ham that might have fallen off, and set to the side. Strain the rest, reserving all of the stock. I mash every little bit ensuring that I get all of those flavors into the stock. I love this part because it allows me to use my chinois strainer!

How to make Cajun style split pea soup

Next, lets get the soup started.

Clean your soup pot, then return it back to the stove. On medium heat, add the stock back to the pot, and add in your split peas, the remaining carrots, celery, and onion. Season with a bit of salt, and cracked black pepper. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook.

To a skillet, add the oil, and bring to a medium heat. Toss in the garlic and Andouille sausage. Cook the sausage until it gets some nice color on it.

Shred any remaining ham, and add that to the stock mixture. Add in the bell peppers to the stock as well.

Once the sausage is cooked, add the garlic and sausage mixture to the stock. Give a good stir, and continue to cook.

Cook for about 1 hour, then taste your peas. You want them tender, but not mushy.

Cajun Style Split Pea Soup

Once the peas are tender, add in the cleaned shrimp and cook until they are just opaque.

Now you are ready to serve!

Get out your bowls and ladle in the Cajun style split pea soup, making sure you get a bit of everything.

The end result is awesome. It’s everything you love about a split pea and ham soup, but you get the great additions of sausage, shrimp, and a bit of heat. I’m hoping my mother-in-law keeps on the tradition of providing me that ham bone because I know this is going to be my go to split pea soup from here on out! I hope you enjoy!