Hong Kong is the seafood nirvana! As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, it has fascinating seafood markets. If you happen to visit there, you will see an enormous variety of known and unknown fresh seafood: many of them bouncily swimming in the fish tanks! Talking about Hong Kong’s fresh seafood, how can one ignore crabs? Welcome to a virtual tour to the crab section of Tsing Yi wet market in Hong Kong and amuse yourself with the astonishing variety of live crabs here!
Did you ever try crabmeat? Do not back off by the not-so-tempting look of this creature. If you haven’t tried crabs, now is the time. These come in various shades and sizes. Crabmeat is aromatic, sweet and succulent. If you like prawns and lobsters, probably, you are going to love this even more!
The good news is that crabmeat is considered healthy too! Being low in fat and calories, it is a safe option for those trying to reduce weight. It has fairly good omega-3 fatty acid, vitamins, minerals and protein contents. But the best part of eating crab, according to me, is that it has very low mercury content, unlike most other seafood!
While buying crabs from your fishmonger, choose those which are alive and active. Dead crabmeat is avoidable as it lacks the tenderness. Look for soft-shelled blue crabs, which are quite delicious when cooked. Usually, if you ask, the fishmonger will break and clean the crab. But, if you need to do this yourself, this article should help.
Crabs often shed their hard shells to grow. When they do the same, they increase in size and stay with a soft shell for a few days. Crabs with soft shells are very popular because the meat is tender and the shell is very easy to break!
I have seen people using even hammers to break open and get the delicious crabmeat! But, not to worry, there are special crab-shacking tools available in the market. Forks, narrow spoons, nut crackers and knives are also commonly used to take out crab meat.
People in Hong Kong love crabs just steamed or in their soups, stir-fries, noodles, fish balls, fish cakes, Japanese Sashimis, baked crabs, and I crab sukiyaki. Another type of crab, called Chinese hairy crab, is very popular here for its roe and is used in Shanghai-style crab preparations. People are so fond of crabs here that the supermarkets even sell imitation crab sticks, which are sticks of fish meat flavoured and textured in such a way that they resemble crabmeat and are obviously much cheaper!
Talking about crabs, Singaporean chilli crab and Indian crab curry are two dishes which you must taste atleast once in your life! Indian crab curries are very popular worldwide. But, did you know that there are so many ways to cook Indian crab curry? Every coastal region in India has its traditional way of making crab curry. The curry discussed here is from East India, which is milder in its spiciness, as compared to the malvani or South-Indian crab curries. The spices in this dish perfectly complement each other and are compatible with the sweet flavour of crabs. I used flower crabs for this recipe. You can go ahead and use any kind of crab you like!
Indian crab curry
- Fresh, big-sized flower crabs: 2
- Diced potatoes: 2
- Onion paste: ½ cup
- Chopped, purple onions: ½ cup
- Crushed garlic: 4 tbsp
- Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
- Tomato puree: ½ cup
- Diced tomatoes: ½ cup
- Finely chopped coriander leaves: ¼ cup
- Mint paste: 1 tbsp
- Whole one-inch cinnamon sticks: 2
- Green cardamoms: 2
- Black peppercorns: 4
- Cloves: 4
- Bay leaf: 1
- Cumin seeds: ¼ tsp
- Coriander powder: 1 tsp
- Cumin powder: ¾ tsp
- Red or green chillies (optional): 4
- Vegetable oil: 2.5 tbsp
- Salt: 1.5 tsp
- Water: 4 cups
Clean the crabs (broken into medium-sized pieces) and plunge the pieces into four cups of boiling water with 1 tsp salt. Boil for 20 min. Strain the water (crab stock) and keep the boiled crabs aside. Cover both to prevent the escaping of the delectable “crab” aroma.
Heat oil in a pan and add the bay leaf, cumin seeds, whole cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms. When the cumin seeds turn brown, add the onion paste and sauté for 7 min on medium flame. Add the garlic and the chopped onion now and sauté for five more minutes. Sprinkle turmeric powder and ½ tsp salt and mix well. Cover over a slow flame for about 3 min. Open and check if the chopped onions can be broken easily with the ladle. If not, continue to cook by sprinkling a little crab stock and covering for three more min, till the desired softness is reached.
Add coriander and cumin powders dissolved in 4 tbsp crab stock. Mix well. Continue to fry this mixture till oil separates from this and the mixture turns almost dry. Add potatoes now. Cover the pan and stir from time to time, till the potatoes are almost cooked. This should take around 15 min on a low flame (preferred). Add the mint paste, chillies, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes now. Cover and cook further for five more minutes.
Add the boiled crabs to this and mix everything well. Cook on a medium flame till the crabs get coated with the curry evenly and the whole thing becomes a little dry.
Now add the whole crab stock and cook on a medium flame, covering the pan. The contents should boil for 15 min. Before serving, add the chopped coriander leaves.
Serve this with rice, roti, paratha or naan.
Do try another version of Indian Crab Curry: Kakrar Jhaal (Bengali crab curry).