What a busy week! Work, babysitting, exercising, hair and nail appointments, along with Blogger being "buggy" after a major mal-function with their main frame, all left me with little time to blog. For that I apologize. But let's get to it...this is a long one, BUT SOOOO WORTH IT.
I talk about treating yourself and your family special....it's important. We deserve what our guests have; the best food carefully put together, your best or favorite wine and the time to give that to yourself or your family.
Tonight I was blissfully alone (sorry honey, it was great...but I still love you!! LOL). You might have thought "she should just relax.....pick up dinner instead of making it....take a hot bath...watch a movie, sleep or ANYTHING BESIDES COOKING???" But here is the funny part. I could not wait to get home to cook myself a gorgeous meal!! Yep, that's right....just little 'ol me. Why? Because my favorite food is what I prepare, and my favorite way to relax is in my kitchen making something wonderful, having a glass of wine and listening to my favorite music. Ahhh. The peace of that.....
It helps me realize how good my life really is. How losing weight FAST is not everything. How life's perceived disappointments are really blessings. How much I need to appreciate the things I have accomplished instead of those things I have not.
WOW,. All that from cooking ONE meal? It's truer than true. It's how I stop, be still, listen and pray. It's my love language towards others and myself.
This dish is not just ANY meal. It's THE meal. The one, that if I had to choose, would likely be THE favorite meal I have ever eaten anywhere in the world. And I have been around the world. This meal evokes such pleasant and happy memories. I can LITERALLY feel the endorphins being released at the moment it crosses my mind: Singapore Chili Crab. I remember where I was, what time of day, what the day looked like, who I was with, and that first incredible bite of those wonderfully soft rolls all sopped in the most delectable sauce. It quite possibly was the freshest crab I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Ummm. Did I mention that SAUCE? If I am not mistaken, it's one of Singapore's most famous dishes.
It's darn near impossible to replicate the seafood that SINGAPORE has. It's the best seafood I have ever had, anywhere, period. I have never had crab in the states as good as in Singapore, it pales in comparison.....but unless you have been to Singapore, thankfully you wont know what your are missing.
It doesn't sound that sexy does it? Singapore Chili Crab. Well....not so fast!! Think about this, perfectly cooked crab in a sweet spicy, tomatoey sauce with the PERFECT Asian rolls to SOP it all up. YES....it's "finger food" at it's finest. To me? That's Sexy!
I took this recipe out of my dearest and most treasured ASIAN cookbook. It's called "The Essential Asian Cook book" by whitecap books....it doesn't even have an author's name. It's like those TIME books, I guess. But it's the best "textbook" on Asian cooking I have found. EVER. ** I will try to add it to my store, if it's still in publication. It's an absolute MUST HAVE...period. I think I paid less than 10.00 at a bookstore on sale.
I pass by the recipe in this book all the time and I LONG for it every single time I pass it. I've always wanted to make it...but frankly after eating it in Singapore many times, I was flat out intimidated to make it!! I mean, what if it was bad? What if the feeling wouldn't be the same? What if I failed, or the recipe failed? What if it messed up my vision of what it was like?? I was scared!
But I had bought crab, red Chile's, and what I thought were the perfect "rolls" for this dish a while ago. I stuck them in the freezer. Why? Well for such a time as this! One night....alone in my kitchen to have my Chili Crab, all by myself....after all if It was bad, nobody would have to know....no worse for the wear, right? It would be my little secret.
But it was absolutely perfect. I am so happy to share it with you.
Singapore Chili Crab
(I haven't figured the calories, but they are not high. I will re-post with that info later.
If you have the cook-book...I made changes to the recipe to get the taste I remembered - see below.)
1 pound or more SNOW crabs legs (or whatever crab you like...you really should use Fresh Blue swimmers if you want to be completely authentic) Try not to use frozen crab - use fresh...trust me I used frozenn..Enough said.
Flour (less than a 1/4 cup)
Oil (I used peanut, but Vegetable will be fine)
4 large shallots, finely diced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced on a ginger grater (see picture) or bottled
6 large cloves of garlic, Minced (I used a huge clove of elephant garlic-probably equal to 6) or bottled
3 Red Chile's, seeds and membranes removed, finely diced
2 cups CHEAP, traditional flavored, canned spaghetti pasta sauce (I know-this is weird.. Go with it)
1 cup water
4 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2-3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark) To be more authentic, use palm sugar.
Sambal Olek (chili paste/sauce) (I used 2 teaspoons)
Rolls - get sweeter rolls.....preferably from an ASIAN store.....tell them what you are making and they will point you in the right direction! Hawaiian rolls will work though. I bought these ones:
WINE for you to drink- I prefer sweet Riesling for spicy food....my fave: Pacific Rim, Sweet (or dry) Riesling , but sparkling Apple cider will work beautifully too (same sweetness).
Please prep all ingredients BEFORE you start making this.....Don't try to chop and cook...it's a fast recipe once everything is prepped.
First wash and scrub the crab shells and dry....set aside.
Grab your shallots, skin then and dice fine - not sure what a shallot looks like? Check it out:
Then grab your red chili peppers ( I buy them fresh and freeze them...hence the "cold icy look"), Remove seeds, membrane , then dice them fine:
GRATE the ginger on a Ginger grater ( or use bottled ).....(not your regular cheese grater):
Mix your sauce in a large bowl: Add pasta sauce, water, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar ( or palm sugar). Set aside.
Mince your garlic (if you use elephant garlic....grate it on the ginger grater) - set aside
Set your crab out and dust it with flour.
You should be completely prepped!!
Now - you want heat a large bottomed pot or WOK and add oil (about 2 tablespoons) and "fry the crab just until the shell is pink and the tops are a bit browned. Remove and keep frying until all the all crab is done.
To make sauce - Add shallots, garlic, ginger, red Chile's and saute for 5 minutes.
Add "red" sauce to the pan and boil uncovered under med-low heat for 15 minutes. TASTE. It's at this point I thought I needed the sambal olek (chili sauce). Add it if you need a little more kick.
This picture of of all the steps:
After 15 minutes, add the crab back to pot and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes covered, then uncovered for another 5 minutes, turning crab in sauce.
During this time, make your vegetable of choice and set out your bread (you might want rice as well, )I dont because I have that bread!
Serve crab on plate smothered in sauce:
The result? For me, it was a trip back in time. The sauce was what I remembered and it soothed my soul. For you? Be prepared, you may feel as I did and remember every, blissful and delicious mouthful. Don't be surprised if you feel as if you just bathed in it - You should bathe in it. It's that good.
From my home to yours, ENJOY!