It wasn’t pretty. This post is not for the faint-hearted.
One night I came home from the grocery with a 1 Kilogram crab. They were on special price at Grand Lucky and this fella was waving it’s legs at me (the claws were tied down of course). And I took that as a sign. It costed me about Rp 60,000 (or 6 USD). Not bad. And I figured for sure it was fresh, because it was still alive. Isn’t that how to tell??
I love my crab simply boiled and I eat them with white fluffy rice, salt & vinegar. This is THE BEST. Especially if you have Suka Pinakurat (a spicy fermented vinegar produced in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Philippines). You take out your crab meat, dip it in vinegar, then a little bit of rock salt. The combination of sweet and salty is heaven. Note, this is NOT the same as putting the salt in the vinegar. It has to be separate, so the salt does not dissolve into the vinegar. Trust me, this is good stuff. The hubby has come to love eating it this way too.
I asked the maid if she knew how to boil a crab? And she said yes so I left her to it. How simple can it be? Boil the water, add salt, pepper & a little vinegar (so meat doesn’t stick to the shell), then throw in the crab, right? Thank God I came out to check on her! There she was with the poor crab on our biggest wok (which was still not big enough by the way) getting fried!!! I was shocked. I felt so bad for the crab because only half of it was cooked, and as she was turning it over to cook the other half some of the legs came off. WAAAAAAAAAAHHHH! The poor thing should have just been dunked in boiling water so at least it could die immediately. Why oh why did I entrust the poor crab to her? And didn’t I say boil?!? So I guess she doesn’t know how to cook crab after all.
I had to show it to her (from memories of the women in my family cooking it since I was little). So out came the crab from the wok, while she placed water on to boil. I could barely look at it. It was half-cooked but half-alive, attached legs still moving in the counter. Arg. I was feeling like Julie, from Julie & Julia by then. I didn’t think I would feel this bad (we’ve been cooking and eating crabs since I was little), but we were torturing the poor thing!
Finally the water was boiling! The crab’s reprieve was near.
It came out really good, with the meat so juicy & not sticking to the shell, BUT…
My hubby had a bum tummy after dinner, and I the next day. Could the crab have been sick? Or could the agony of its slow death, have produced toxic chemicals in its body that caused us to get sick? If I were half-cooked, half-alive and in pure pain/agony, I’m sure by body would produce all sorts of toxins, acids, etc. that would make me less palatable too!
Moral of the story, cook it fast and let it die a glorious & quick death in boiling salted water. Oh and apparently soaking it in ice water beforehand helps in keeping the legs on while cooking.
If any of you have tips for cooking crab, your comments would be welcome!