Monday, October 13, 2014

Salt Baked Flower Crab

Ordered some crabs from over the weekend and decided to bake them in salt.

The crabs were delivered alive and the young man even helped to keep the crabs alive in my sink with some salted water.

We usually put the crabs in a 1-pot-wonder but this time round, I thought I'd bake them in salt.


Coarse sea salt - enough to line the pane and cover the crabs (I used 2kg worth)
Chinese wine (I used Hua Diao.  Try to avoid those labelled as "kitchen use"橱用as they often come with added salt)
Ginger slices (optional)
Crabs - best to use live ones.  Wash them in clean water to make sure you clean off any dirt on the shells


In order not to shock the crabs (and have their legs fall off when baking), I make them drunk.  Line them in a container and pour in enough wine to submerge them to just beyond their mouths so the wine can go into their system.  You can also put a few slices of ginger at the bottom of the container.  Leave the crabs to get drunk for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220 deg C.  Line the baking tray with a thin layer of salt.  When the crabs are ready, remove them one at a time from the wine and line them on the salt layer in the baking tray.  Cover the crabs completely with the remainder of the salt and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes depending on the size of your crabs.

Once done, gently scrape away the salt and remove the crabs from the salt pile and they are ready to be served!

Note: the crabs are baked whole and you can peel away the lungs and all the inedible parts when you open up the top and bottom shells.  I would also ensure that the salt used is of very large crystals so they won't fall into the cavities of the crabs and make the crabs too salty.  It also makes removing them from the crabs easier too.


PS: You can use the wine to dunk live prawns, if you are eating them on the same day :)  I've also forgotten that I could actually bake eggs (quail eggs, shell and all) in the salt at the same time!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Classic Belgian Waffles (and my new waffle maker)

Because my BFF and her little darling will be visiting us for tea, I needed to test out a recipe that will make them happy.  That, and testing my new waffle maker.

First, let's meet the new soldier in my kitchen army.  Bought off Taobao, this gadget is made in Germany (surprise, surprise!) and is really easy to use.  It makes those thick, Belgian waffles with the really deep dimples, something that would make substantial breakfast / lunch / tea / dinner (depending on your mood).  

More on the waffle maker later on.  Now, let's get back to the recipe.

I used the Classic Belgian Waffles recipe found on Food & Wine.  It's something from Thomas DeGeest.  I was a bit surprised that it contains no sugar (but of course, what do I know about real Belgian waffles?).  The sweetness would come from the icing sugar, chocolate sauce, Nutella or whatever you want to put on it.  Here's the list of ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  2. 1 cup warm water
  3. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup whole milk
  6. 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  7. 2 large eggs, separated
  8. 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  9. Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

I used only half the portion as I wasn't sure how it would turn out.

Simple instructions:

1.  Separate egg whites from egg yolks and whisk egg whites till soft peaks form and keep cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

2.  Melt butter and let it cool 

3.  Mix yeast with the warm water, set aside

4.  Mix flour with salt

6.  Whisk yeast, cooled melted butter, milk, vanilla extract into the flour till smooth

7.  Fold in egg white and let the batter stand for 20 minutes

As for making the waffles, please follow the instructions for your waffle maker.  For mine, I find that I had to fill the pan to the brim so the batter would flow into every cavity, allowing the batter to touch the pan on all sides so the surface would crisp up.  Once done, you can put in a heated oven to keep warm if you are not eating immediately (or you intend to serve everyone together).

Sprinkle icing sugar over the waffles before serving, together with your favourite sweet sauces, whipped cream or fruits (or all of the above :P )

Bon appetit!