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

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If you have back yard and can spare $100, you can build an outdoor setup too!  You could still use your beautiful rangetop for most dinners, but an outdoor wok would solve your occasional "capsicum cough" problem.

An outdoor wok burner is very tempting – let’s see if we have any money left after paying for the addition. :sad:

Have you tried the recipe for Spicy Cucumber Salad in Fuchsia Dunlop's book?  It's delicious.  I halved the chilies for my kids' sake and it was not spicy-hot but still richly flavored.  I think your family would enjoy it.

And you would be right! We love that recipe. David Thompson’s cucumber salad in Thai Food is more gently seasoned, and also very good.

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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.

I have found the Asian approach to vegetables particularly rewarding. Often, vegetables are prepared simply to contrast with a more highly-seasoned main course. Quickly seared with garlic, ginger, and/or chilies, and doused in umami-laden seasonings such as fish sauce and/or fermented bean paste, veggies have a satisfying meaty/smoky flavor. Hmm, I'm not sure that I addressed your question. Can you clarify?

No need. What I meant was that I'd like to see demonstrations of your cooking process and an inventory of the (for me, often) unfamiliar ingredients you're using--in other words, more than the lovely finished dish you document in the Dinner thread. Your shrimp demonstration is exactly the kind of thing I meant!!!

Well, since I am a creature of habit, on to oatmeal! Marion Nestle (Nutrition prof at Colombia) says we make too big a deal out of breakfast. If all you want in the morning is coffee, that's fine.

Oh, good – I get it now. Sorry, I was replying when I should have been sleeping.

Good to know that academia approves of a coffee breakfast. I still prefer to eat something solid, even if just a small portion.

In the winter, I also like oatmeal for breakfast. Now that the weather is getting cold, I'll probably make a big batch of steel-cut oatmeal, seasoned with some combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg, and served with brown sugar or palm sugar.

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I remember my Dad cooked exclusively Southern Chinese and Indian food when I was growing up, (Mum hardly cooked) and snotty child that I was, I refused to eat any of it.

What a missed opportunity! How did your Dad happen to cook Chinese and Indian food?

How do your kids handle your experiments in Asian cuisine? With enthusiasm? Or do they fill up on cucumbers?  :laugh:

We always set out cucumbers or carrots before dinner, so yeah, sometimes they fill up when I am particularly slow getting food on the table. There are worse things than boys filling up on vegetables, though. :rolleyes:

The boys are pretty tolerant of my experiments. They love some things – sate, five-spice chicken, mildly-spiced stir-fries, Sichuan dry-fried dishes, Sichuan fish with chile bean sauce, coconut rice, fried rice, etc. Unfortunately, they are not crazy about Thai curries or Indian food, two of my favorites (although they like Thai beef kaprow). Consequently, we have not made much Thai or Indian food lately unless we have dinner guests.

Elder son is developing a taste for spicy food, but younger son has a lower chile tolerance. I try to convince younger son to mix spicy foods with rice, but he is a member of the “my food is touching” club. If he really doesn’t like something, he pours honey on it to render it palatable.

The boys tolerate vegetable stir-fries, but prefer raw veggies, even some unusual things like raw chayote, limes, radishes, daikon radish, scallions, and white turnips.

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Elder son is staying at a friend’s house, so Mrs. Crab made decaf tea for three.


Tomorrow is the last day of the foodblog, so I will try to squeeze in as much as possible. We will probably not have crabs, but I would like to show you some of the local food-related sights and finish with an Ethiopian restaurant.

As always, your questions and comments are welcomed. Goodnight!

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I would be completely remiss if I did not acknowledge the incredible Chinese cooking pictorials that Ah Leung (hrzt8w) has made. Clearly, these inspired my humble efforts in this foodblog. We see farther when we stand on the shoulders of giants, as they say. :biggrin:

Thank you Bruce. You are so kind. Many like you are masters of your culinary interests, and eGullet is such a magnet to attract talents for intellectual culinary exchanges.

I fully enjoy reading your blog!

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Which kitchen cabinets did you choose from Ikea?  My mother is redoing her very tiny kitchen, and we're thinking of going with Ikea.  I quite like yours, and MelissaH's, too!  Decisions, decisions...

Rona: We chose Akurum Adel medium brown cabinets. We also considered Adel light birch because we were concerned that the medium brown would make the north-facing kitchen too dark. We really liked the medium brown, so we mixed in some glass-fronted cabinets and used open shelves around the window to keep the kitchen from feeling closed-in.

By the way, we found Ikea's free kitchen planning software (click) invaluable in planning the kitchen. The program is a bit buggy, but one can work around most of its quirks.

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Mmmm, I have to say that your pictures are the BEST in food porn! If I could crawl through my computer and have some of that fried rice for breakfast, I would in a minute.

Funnily enough, my husband just bough me Hot Sour Salty Sweet as an impromptu (if a little selfish--since he gets to eat the results) gift. so I'm heading to the United Noodles, the big Asian supermarket here in the Twin Cities, and making this fried rice this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Saturday mornings are usually crazy. The boys play on two different basketball teams, so their games are usually held at different locations scattered around the county. Elder son stayed at a teammate’s house last night, so they will take him to his game.

This morning, the weather feels much more like winter:


Morning coffee mix:


The Technivorm coffee maker is great fun. As the water boils, bubbles travel up a clear tube inside the water compartment.


Morning coffee.


Next: a few more kitchen pictures.

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Mmmm, I have to say that your pictures are the BEST in food porn! If I could crawl through my computer and have some of that fried rice for breakfast, I would in a minute.

What a nice thing to say! :blush:

Funnily enough, my husband just bough me Hot Sour Salty Sweet as an impromptu (if a little selfish--since he gets to eat the results) gift. so I'm heading to the United Noodles, the big Asian supermarket here in the Twin Cities, and making this fried rice this weekend.  Thanks for the inspiration!

Good luck with the fried rice - HSSS is one of our favorite cookbooks.

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Kitchen knives:

A while ago I bought an Edge-Pro and sharpened our 20-year old Chicago Cutlery set. Two conclusions: 1) a sharp knife is a wonderful thing; 2) soft steel doesn’t stay sharp very long. After considerable research, I purchased three Japanese knives as an experiment:

Hattori HD-8 gyuto (240 mm/9.4 inch). I love this knife. It is light, cuts cleanly, stays sharp, and has a nicely-rounded handle. I use it mostly for chopping veggies, which is probably 80% of my knife work. It also slices meat very nicely, but I prefer to avoid cross-contamination between meat and veggies.

Ittosai Kotetsu GY-180 gyuto (180 mm/7.1 inch). This is Mrs. C’s main knife, and she loves it. Occasionally I use it to slice meat if she isn’t cooking or prepping. The steel is incredibly hard – 63 to 64 Rockwell units. I haven’t tried sharpening it yet.

Tojiro DP F-803 honesuki (150 mm/5.9 inch). This is a chicken boning knife (insert chicken boning joke here :biggrin: ). We usually cook with chicken thighs, bone-in or boneless depending on the intended purpose and what is on sale. Deboning chicken thighs is time-consuming, especially on a weeknight, but this knife does a nice job. The blade is flat on one side, making it easy to cut along the bone. Tojiro knives provide incredible value, so they are an excellent way to find out if you like Japanese knives.

Odd fact: I ordered knives from Korin and Japanese Chef’s Knife around the same time. Japanese Chef’s Knife delivered faster and charged less for shipping, even though Korin is only a four-hour drive from here. Confounding.

Knife block: I love this – it was the only one that I found with several wide slots for gyutos/chef’s knives and cleavers.


Most-used knives: heavy cleaver; 240 mm gyuto; 180 mm gyuto; slicer; honesuki; paring knife.


To completely replace the old knife set, I would like to get a sujihiki for slicing meat and a small utility knife or two (petty, in Japanese knife lingo). I would also like to try a thin-bladed Chinese cleaver. I hear that Chan Chi Kee cleavers are a remarkable value, and I like the idea of a wide blade to use as a scooper.

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After renovating the kitchen, we have been slowly upgrading some of our kitchen gear.

Pots and pans: We have an old set of disk-bottom Revereware pots. They did the job for 20 years, but the new stove’s burners are wider than the disk bottoms. This causes a burned ring around the bottom of the skillet and smaller saucepans.

To remedy this problem, we bought the 1.4-quart (7-inch) “Try Me” copper sauciere from Falk Culinaire (1.4-liters, 18 centimeters for metric folks). We love this pot. It heats evenly enough to melt chocolate without a double boiler, caramelizes sugar smoothly, responds rapidly to changes in heat, reduces sauces quickly, and cleans up easily. We were so happy with this pot that we ordered two more Falk copper saucieres through eBay – one 4.6 quarts (11 inches) and the other 3.1 quarts (9.5 inches). We cook most meals in the wok or the large copper sauciere, and the extra pots are essential when we entertain.


We bought two more pots during a post-holiday sales at a nearby at outlet mall. The first, a 12-inch pre-seasoned cast iron skillet, will be used for pan-frying and searing. The second, a 12-inch Calphalon Commercial non-stick saute pan, will replace a similar non-stick pan that is no longer non-stick. Mrs. Crab prefers non-stick cookware, and I use the non-stick occasionally for pan-frying delicate fish.

We have a few more pots and pans on our wish list. Our beloved wok has a dangerously loose handle, so it needs to be repaired or replaced before I anoint myself with smoking oil. We could use a couple of small, straight-gauge aluminum saucepans.

We store the most-used pots in a drawer under the rangetop. It’s a pretty tight squeeze, but very convenient.


The lower drawer below the rangetop holds most of our other pots and pans.


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We have three compost bins. With several mature trees, we could use more bins, but for now we toss the extra leaves in the woods. Any compostable vegetable matter, egg shells, coffee filters, etc. winds up here:


We had a compost bin at the old house. To hide it from the neighbors, I planted a small garden with a Darwin’s Enigma rose, Fru Dagmar Hastrup rugosa rose, Ville de Lyon clematis, May Night salvia, and Japanese anemones. The clematis loved the nutrient-rich runoff from the compost bin, growing madly and flowering profusely all summer.

Eventually, we will dig out some vegetable gardens and use the compost there. For now, we compost the lazy way – dump everything in and let the microorganisms break it down in good time.

Edited: I forgot about Fru Dagmar - one of my favorite roses.

Edited by C. sapidus (log)
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A few other kitchen odds and ends:

An incredibly useful pull-out drawer sits to the right of the rangetop. The top drawers house kitchen and grilling implements . . .


. . . and the pull-out drawer below holds oils and Asian sauces.


Glass-fronted cabinets to the right of the rangetop. We made stair-step shelves to hold spice jars, and the baskets in the upper shelves hold dried chilies and bulk spices. Mostly Asian sauce bottles on the middle shelves.


Farther right above the prep sink, the upper cabinet holds more bulk spices, Asian ingredients, and miscellaneous stuff. The drying rack also serves a cookbook holder.


To the left of the cooktop, cabinets hold measuring cups, salt, cornstarch, etc. We keep plastic containers and the stock pot above the microwave.


The glass-fronted cabinets in the dining room hold cookbooks and stemware. As the cookbook collection grows, some of the stemware will need to be relocated. We have some art glass in a slot below the cookbooks. Eventually, Mrs. Crab will make stained glass pieces to fill this spot.


I just kinda like this picture – this is “my” prep area.


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Such organized shelves! I am envious. :biggrin:

I was wondering about your knife block, Bruce. I have been trying to find one that would accommodate cleavers. Can you tell me where you bought yours? Another eGulleteer emailed about a different kind of knife holder from the UK. It's not a block, and I think I'd want both!

Mrs. C. is on WW program. Does she have to really work at figuring out the points? I would like to try the program, but think it might take too much work in figuring out the points when I make Chinese homestyle food, for example, last night's soup of dried tofu stick soup with rehydrated oysters, pork bones and gingko nuts. It's encouraging to see that Mrs. C is able to work with all the delicious dishes you prepare.

Not sure if anyone has asked, but do you have Asian in your heritage? I thought maybe because one of your sons looked Asian, and because of your store of Asian ingredients, recipes, etc



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Your foodblog is awesome and inspirational. The order and organization in the kitchen is a culinary dream, and as always, your food looks sensational!

Thank you for sharing so much with us.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Rona: We chose Akurum Adel medium brown cabinets. We also considered Adel light birch because we were concerned that the medium brown would make the north-facing kitchen too dark. We really liked the medium brown, so we mixed in some glass-fronted cabinets and used open shelves around the window to keep the kitchen from feeling closed-in.

By the way, we found Ikea's free kitchen planning software (click) invaluable in planning the kitchen. The program is a bit buggy, but one can work around most of its quirks.

Thanks! My mother's kitchen is so small, plus has no windows, so I think we might have to go with a lighter colour. But I generally prefer darker colours (not my kitchen, but I do have input!).

I will download the planning software as soon as I get my new computer! Which will hopefully be sooner than later...

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Outstanding knife collection - and the block is extra cool.

I just put some chicken to marinate in an attempt to prepare your Vietnamese chicken with Jasmine Rice. Just before leaving the store I ran to get a cucumber. What the hey?!

Thanks for blogging this week. Well done!

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Wow, are your cupboards nice and organized (I'm hanging my head in shame). Love the bag of prik haeng in the cupboard above the drying rack!

Your new kitchen is absolutely beautiful, and I'm wondering that now you've had the time to play in the kitchen if there is anything you wish you'd done differently?

What kind of toaster do you have? Do you like it? I have a 4-slice one that I hate, and which I would really like to replace with one of those two long slots ones.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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For lunch, I tried mapo dofu for the first time. This dish always reminds me of Rachel’s comment:

Tofu is like a teenager looking for a peer group; it takes on the persona of its surroundings

I started with Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe in Land of Plenty, but had to substitute for some ingredients (yes, that is chorizo again).


Cut up tofu and place in hot water:


Line up ingredients next to the wok:


Heat oil to smoking and fry the meat:


Add chile bean paste, stir-fry briefly, and then add soy bean paste (substitute for fermented black beans) and roasted chile powder (substitute for Sichuan chile powder).


Add chicken stock and tofu, simmer for a bit:


Add Chinese leeks, stir to combine, and simmer until the leeks are cooked:


Done! This had a ton of flavor - I liked it a lot, and so did Mrs. Crab. She doesn't care for the texture of soft tofu, so we used firm tofu. I’ll definitely try this again with the proper ingredients. Chinese food experts - any suggestions for doing better next time?


We are off to an Ethiopian restaurant tonight. When I return, I will share some pictures from this afternoon's travels. See you this evening!

Edited to add: as several of you noticed, I forgot to sprinkle ground roasted Sichuan peppercorn on the mapo tofu before serving. D'OH! I sprinkled some on leftovers the following morning - a definite improvement, adding another dimension of flavor. :rolleyes:

Edited by C. sapidus (log)
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Thank you for the week. We really enjoyed seeing the "new" Frederick. We sold the Carriage Inn Bed and Breakfast in Charles Town, WV 4 1/2 years ago before moving to WA state. I used to shop weekly in Frederick and wish I had the variety of stores to choose among that are available there now. I'm glad to hear there is still some farmland around the area. The rate it was building up, I was afraid it would become wall to wall houses.


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i'm sorry to see this blog come to an end. i'm sure more than one eGulleteer would love to move (if not in with you, then next door) to be able to eat the delicious meals that you're always preparing.

the mapo dofu looks great. i always use spicy italian sausage instead of plain ground pork as that is what my husband likes. i've never used leeks but usually garnish with thinly sliced green onion and a dash of white pepper or ground szechuan peppercorn. it is supposed to be a bit numbing (ma).

great blog bruce. so good to meet the rest of the family as well!

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The mapo tofu looks good enough to eat!

I'm wondering why you "blanched" the tofu - to firm it up?

I love the texture of soft tofu. It makes it saucy, smooth, soothing. Hubby and the kids like to have firm cubes, so I use both.

Chorizo sounds like a wonderful addition - different spices, different heat. I will try that next time!

Fermented black beans keep well in a jar. I also keep packages in the freezer.

Thanks for a great week!



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