May 14, 2014

Chinese Chilled Crab with Vinegar Dip 凍花蟹

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In the long hot months of the summer, there are few things more pleasurable to serve for dinner than a cold dish.  Actually I love Chinese cold dishes.  I have always found the taste of food chilled overnight to be especially tasty.  

Even when I was a little girl I would sneak midnight snacks from leftovers in the fridge: a cold soy sauce chicken wing, an icy wine flavored shrimp, a cool knob of fatty pork.  YUM!  Literally finger licking good!  My grandma used to always yell at me for this habit of eating straight out of the fridge.  'No, no, that's not the Chinese way!' she would say, exasperated and confused by my strange behavior.  

I guess what she meant was that Chinese food was meant to be eaten hot (and at a table!).  Which Chinese food is most of the time and properly so too.  Chinese cuisine is based on things like 'breath of the wok' after all.  But luckily there are many Chinese foods which are meant to be eaten cold, like this delicious and very easy to make Chinese Chilled Crab with Vinegar Dip, or 凍花蟹.  It's the perfect seafood dish to serve on a hot summer's night!

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To make this chilled crab dish do plan ahead by a day.  That way you can allow more time for the sea sweet flavors of the fresh crab meat to be intensified by a long cooling: the delicately cooked crab meat marinating in its own juices.  
Go to your local wet market and get a fresh flower crab 花蟹.  You must get very, very fresh (live* preferably) crab or the meat won't have that sweetness.  Cook the crab, let it cool down completely, cover and put it in the fridge.  The next day all you will need to do is to prepare the vinegar dipping sauce.  Tender sea sweet cold white crab meat splashed with sweetened ginger infused vinegar.  Isn't that just yummilicious?!

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This Chilled Crab with Vinegar Sauce is soooo easy to make!  I guess the only hard part of the whole experience is the eating, as getting the crab meat out of the crab shell can be a bit of a pain.  

Well, that is true, unless you're really good at crab eating like my 媽媽.  While my mom can gnash her way through a whole crab with panache, I am sadly lacking in crab shell cracking and meat extraction powers and generally rely on crab scissors and seafood forks to get the crab meat out and into my eagerly waiting mouth.  

An altogether delightfully easy and very tasty summer Chinese cold seafood dish.  Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

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Chinese Chilled Crab with Vinegar Dip凍花蟹
(Prep time: 2 mins  Cook time: 15 mins)



Rinse crab under running water.  Boil enough water to cover crab (by 1 inch) and put crab in (stomach side up) when water boils.  Cook over medium high heat for 15 minutes.  Remove crab and let cool.  When completely cool, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Mix vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and ginger.  It's important that the ginger is really finely minced.  Pour into sauce bowl.  Remove crab from fridge and serve with sauce.

Note:  You can serve the crab as is and allow your dinner guests to pick up their own crab meat.  In which case you will need crab shell scissors and seafood forks in order to keep the dining experience smooth and easy.   Or you can (if you're in a generous mood) pick out the crab meat yourself and then serve.  In which case you will really need the crab shell scissors and seafood forks!

*Tip:  If you buy a live crab, be sure to refrigerate the crab for at least 1 hour so that he will be in a sleepy semi-hibernated stage by the time you are ready to cook.

Tip: When you eat the crab, pull out and discard the pale beige gills that you will find after lifting off the top shell of the crab.  Everything else except the actual crab shell is tasty and edible.



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