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eG Foodblog: C. sapidus - Crabs, Borscht, and Fish Sauce


C. sapidus
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Bruce,

I've been going to that Asian market for a couple of months now - they sure do pack a lot of stuff in that small store! There is a Hispanic market down past home depot on Patrick that is even smaller, but did have some fun stuff the last time we stopped in.

I noticed the Penzey bottles - did you see they will be finally opening up 2 stores fairly close to us? One will be in Rockville and the other in Falls Church.

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Bruce,

I've been going to that Asian market for a couple of months now - they sure do pack a lot of stuff in that small store!  There is a Hispanic market down past home depot on Patrick that is even smaller, but did have some fun stuff the last time we stopped in.

I noticed the Penzey bottles - did you see they will be finally opening up 2 stores fairly close to us?  One will be in Rockville and the other in Falls Church.

That is exciting news! My Wisconsin in-laws live near a Penzeys store, so we visit once a year or so. Going to the store, shaking the apothecary jars, and savoring the delicious aromas is a noteworthy experience.

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I’m still feeling lousy, so I will turn in early tonight. If the pathogenic microorganisms cooperate, dinner will be shrimp sambal, stir-fried Asian greens, and rice. Lunch is up in the air.

If you would like to see or hear about anything in particular – kitchen gear, Frederick restaurants or history, more about the family – please let me know.

Goodnight, and see you all tomorrow!

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The cooking wall: Blue Star rangetop, Vent-A-Hood (could have used more cfms),

can you go on about this a little more? what made you get a rangetop instead of a range? which blue star model did you get? i've been looking into them for an upcoming kitchen redo, and have read the raves on the garden web forums, but it's hard to get a good handle on things when your only options are (a) nothing or (b) that place where everyone is gaga.

also how powerful is the hood, and why is it not enough?

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Bruce, your Asian market looks similar to mine, except that they have a meat counter, a seafood counter, including a few "water" things with live fish and crabs and oysters and stuff. They really do need to expans. But, does your market sell fish sauce in 5 gallon containers?

You haven't mentioned ramen! How was there selection? Is it a staple in your household? I buy the Mama brand ones by the case.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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My Wisconsin in-laws live near a Penzeys store, so we visit once a year or so. Going to the store, shaking the apothecary jars, and savoring the delicious aromas is a noteworthy experience.

Where in Wisconsin? Any specialties in their area? Do you drive or fly?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Good morning! Breakfast was leftover lemongrass chicken with a little Sriracha. Coffee, of course. Upon reflection, I will definitely make the chicken again, but with more red bell peppers – they added a nice contrasting crunch. Perhaps a mix of red and orange bell peppers, or red bell peppers and Poblano chiles. Any excuse to use Poblano chiles is a good one. :rolleyes:

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I need to feed the dogs, drive younger son to the school bus, and get to work. The excellent questions from mrbigjas and snowangel deserve more than a hurried response, so I'll answer this evening.

Still not sure what we will do for lunch, but it probably needs to be quick. Perhaps we will explore the culinary glories of cafeteria food. If we come home for lunch, I'll try to post. Otherwise, see you this evening!

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Thanks for showing us that chicken. The timing was fortuitous. My sister called last night around dinner time (as she often does) and asked if I had any ideas of what she could do with lemongrass. Within minutes she had the instructions for your chicken dish and she later told me it was a big success!

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Enough about refrigerators - a delightful package showed up today (half-price at Amazon). Our first enameled cast iron pot - I can't wait to try a braise, maybe even some no-knead bread.

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Great pot - I looooooove my Staub (much prefer it to the LC pot I own). Are we going to see it in action? It's the perfect time of year for a rich, slow braise, a slow-simmered curry, a pot roast ... okay, now I have to go and plan something like this for dinner, I'm making myself hungry. Actually, that chicken dish of yours looks pretty scrummy, and I've just defrosted me some chicken ...

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

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If you would like to see or hear about anything in particular – kitchen gear, Frederick restaurants or history, more about the family – please let me know.

First, I hope you recover soon.

When you are up and about again, I'd be interested in learning more basics from you about using the Asian ingredients you buy, whether in dishes gleaned from recipes or meals you invent, based on what's at hand. Thinking back to what you said about eG members inspiring each other's cooking, I am looking for a few lessons and new sources for different kinds of meals.

Second, I've been out to Frederick only once, but I recall brown, harvested fields passed along the way. While it has become a bedroom community for Washington, D.C. and has long been the home to a small liberal arts college that has recently gone co-ed, it's also still a place for farmers, no? So, if there's anything you can share about the agricultural nature of your spot in Maryland...

Finally, breakfast habits. Omnivore?

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Quick post, gotta get back to work. Two of my favorite places to eat in Frederick, side by side. Clay Oven has a nice Indian buffet, and they don't water down the spicing of their buffet items. Another time . . .

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Mrs. Crab couldn’t get away for lunch, so I ordered take-out from Thai Rice. The family that runs the restaurant is very nice and I love their monthly specials – som tam and stir-fried eggplant have been particularly delicious.

Until recently, Frederick had no decent Thai restaurants. Two have opened up the past year or two, so I can satisfy a Thai food craving without breaking out the mortar and pestle.

Larb gai and shrimp Panang curry from Thai Rice:

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I'm way too lazy to take eggs out of a perfectly good container and carefully put them somewhere else. :smile:

Me too. Thats why I had to ask. The egg-thing got removed immediately and I have no idea where it is. Besides, we buy eggs in 18-egg cartons - too many for the rack most likely.

Can you grow lemongrass outside year-round? We have grown lemongrass in the vegetable garden, but the stem diameter doesn't get that big around before frost.

Probably. Its pretty warm & fairly sunny here in San Diego (most of the time) and I can bring it to a protected area on the rare occasions we are threatened with freezing temps. The stalks I purchased at the asian market were about 1/2 inch diameter at the base.

I have seen lemongrass used three ways:

1. Chop finely and use in stir-fried or grilled dishes. Lemongrass is pretty stringy if you don't chop it very finely across the grain.

2. For Thai and Malaysian curry pastes, chop the lemongrass and pound it to smithereens in a heavy mortar with chilies, garlic, shallots, etc. Sometimes we start curry pastes out in a food processor and finish in the mortar. If we have enough volume we can use the Preethi grinder, but it doesn't work for small quantities. We are still playing with the most efficient method of making curry pastes.

3. Bruise the lemongrass, simmer it like a bay leaf, and remove before serving. In Cradle of Flavor, James Oseland recommends bruising the lemongrass and tying it in a knot. We do that for coconut lemongrass rice, which is delicious (but not very WW-friendly, unfortunately).

Thank you very much. I had noted the stringy and am interested that it can be chopped finely enough not to be annoying in the finished dish. Chopping it is a delight, as it releases its scent.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I've not thought of doing a penang curry with shrimp. How was the combo?

And, BTW, leftover larb makes a terrific breakfast or snack. How was the balance of lime and fish sauce? What's your preferred balance?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Tonight’s dinner: Malaysian shrimp sambal (sambal udang), wilted spinach, jasmine rice . . .

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. . . and eternal cucumbers.

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I'm off to upload some pictures showing how we made tonight's dinner, and then I'll answer the excellent questions posted earlier (and of course any new questions that might pop up). I really appreciate the questions – I prefer to talk about things that people are interested in, rather than just rambling aimlessly.

Back in a bit!

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Making sambal udang – ingredients:

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Candlenuts thicken the paste. They can cause nausea if eaten raw, but are safe after cooking. Shrimp paste toasted in foil (definitely turn on the hood when toasting shrimp paste); chiles, garlic, and shallots roughly chopped:

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Ground up in the food processor to “the consistency of cooked oatmeal.”

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We like big shrimp – easier to cook, and peeling small shrimp takes way too long for a weeknight. Not too expensive at Sam's, either.

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Thaw shrimp under cold running water, peel, and dry on paper towels:

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Fry the paste over medium-low heat (this was a bit too high – I lowered the flame after taking a picture):

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After a few minutes, the paste changes color and the oil begins to separate.

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Add the raw shrimp, raise the heat to medium-high, and stir-fry until done.

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Done! I love cooking shrimp in the wok – you can feel their texture change when they are done.

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Mrs. Crab wilted the spinach (and the container it came in) in the microwave: “What, spinach doesn’t come in a microwave-safe container?” Served with Key lime vinegar, the spinach was delicious.

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I need to concentrate at when I fire up the wok, so I usually warn Mrs. Crab. Dialogue tonight:

Me: “Honey, I’m wokking now”

Mrs. C: “In those shoes?” Baddabum.

Note: I checked with Mrs. C before posting this, and she continues to have an excellent sense of humor. :wub::wub::wub:

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After dinner, I drank a Russian imperial stout from our latest batch of “home” brew. Mrs. Crab and I made two cases at the Flying Barrel, and the boys helped with the bottling. The beer tastes delicious, all roasty and toasty, but the microherd is taking its sweet time making bubbles.

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Here is the stout in the glass. Please use your imagination to picture the rich, creamy had that will probably develop eventually.

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The Flying Barrel is a brewing supply store in town. They also teach brewing classes and, best of all, they have all of the equipment for folks to brew on premises. This is the lazy person’s way to brew beer – the good people at Flying Barrel do all of the prep and cleanup, and provide as much or as little help as you want.

gallery_28660_4106_27029.jpg

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The cooking wall: Blue Star rangetop, Vent-A-Hood (could have used more cfms),

can you go on about this a little more? what made you get a rangetop instead of a range? which blue star model did you get? i've been looking into them for an upcoming kitchen redo, and have read the raves on the garden web forums, but it's hard to get a good handle on things when your only options are (a) nothing or (b) that place where everyone is gaga.

also how powerful is the hood, and why is it not enough?

mrbigjas: We chose a separate range and oven to save money. We don’t do much baking or roasting, so buying a smaller, more basic oven left us enough funds to get the rangetop we really wanted.

We have the Blue Star RGTNB366BSS. This is the 36-inch, six-burner model with two 22,000-BTU burners. We are absolutely delighted with it, although I do recommend checking into service coverage in your area. For those who may be interested, here is the Prizer-Painter website (click).

The 42-inch wide hood pulls 600 CFM – “equivalent” to 900 CFM because Vent-A-Hood uses centrifugal force rather than a filter to keep grease out of the ductwork. You probably already know this, but a 600 CFM hood pulls less than 600 CFM because friction in the ductwork reduces airflow. Filters add a lot of friction, reducing air flow even more.

We were also concerned that pulling more than 600 CFM might have required us to install an expensive supplemental air supply. Without sufficient supply air, negative pressure from the hood can cause backdraft from furnace vents and fireplaces. This can potentially cause overexposure to carbon monoxide.

The hood does a great job except when we do Sichuan stir-fries. These typically involve heating up the wok, adding garlic and dried chilies, and then adding the meat and searing over very high heat. This process releases capsaicin fumes, big time. We have had a few meals marred by vigorous coughing from breathing capsaicin fumes.

To reduce resistance and improve our hood's airflow, we will probably put a new louver on the roof with a bigger opening. Until then, I think that an occasional bout of uncontrollable coughing is a small price to pay for good food. :wink:

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Bruce, your Asian market looks similar to mine, except that they have a meat counter, a seafood counter, including a few "water" things with live fish and crabs and oysters and stuff.  They really do need to expans.  But, does your market sell fish sauce in 5 gallon containers?

You haven't mentioned ramen!  How was there selection?  Is it a staple in your household?  I buy the Mama brand ones by the case.

We have not cooked much with Asian noodles, so I did not notice the ramen section. A few weeks ago I made a stir-fry with rice noodles – the family did not like the texture at all. Younger son does like ramen noodles, so I should try again. I’ll look out for Mama brand ramen when I do.

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My Wisconsin in-laws live near a Penzeys store, so we visit once a year or so. Going to the store, shaking the apothecary jars, and savoring the delicious aromas is a noteworthy experience.

Where in Wisconsin? Any specialties in their area? Do you drive or fly?

We have relatives in the Milwaukee suburbs and up near Chippewa Falls. Area specialties include venison and other game, beer-soaked brats, walleye, Sprecher beer and root beer, cheese curds, hot dish, and some excellent Mexican food and groceries. One sister-in-law is a former pastry chef, and other relatives make delicious game, fish, Spanish and Mexican food, soups, and cookies. We have always eaten very well in Wisconsin.

We usually drive to Wisconsin. Last trip we rented a big honking SUV and packed up the boys and dogs. On the return trip, we hauled a very nice bar, a gift from my SIL. Flying would be really expensive, and finding someone to watch our old dogs can be a problem.

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