Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crab Bonanza

okey, doke, so here's the deal -- i love saveur magazine. truly. it's yum, fun and very cool. i also love crabs TONS. crazy love them. so imagine my absolute total delight when i got my most recent copy of the mag and it had crabs on the cover. and not just any crab, but vietnamese based crab with really flavorful dipping sauces, soups, dishes of all kinds. whoa. i open the magazine and there, like a dream -- because of my total adoration of asian food -- is a killer recipe for these intense, seafood filled spring rolls that i can't wait to get my hands on. if i could cook all day right now, i so would.

anyway, i put together my shopping list for the crab spring rolls then stop, look at the recipe again... and again... and again... and, yep, i'm reading what i'm reading, but something inside tells me there's something up. take a look at the recipe and see for yourself and we'll chat it up about it afterwards.

here goes:
CHA GIO CUA (Crab Spring Rolls)
4 lb. backfin crabmeat (small chunks from the rear fin area), picked through to remove any bits of shell
4 lb. medium shrimp, finely chopped
3 oz. ground pork
2 cloves garlic, finely chpped
2 tbsp. grated carrot (use the large-holed side of a box grater)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large shallots, finely chopped
12 8" square spring roll wrappers
1 oz. bun (vietnamese rice vermicelli), cooked in boiling water for 2-3 minutes then drained and rinsed thoroughly with cold water
1 egg white, beaten
corn oil for frying
12 bibb lettuce leaves, for garnish
12 sprigs Thai basil, for garnish
12 purple perilla leaves (called tia to) for garnish (optional)
Nuoc cham (recipe to follow)

what to do:
1. stir together crabmeat, shrimp, pork, garlic, carrots, salt, pepper and shallots; set filling aside.
2. make rolls: working with 1 wrapper at a time and keeping the remaining wrappers covered with a damp towel) arrange the wrapper so that a corner faces you. Place 2 tbs crap mixture and 1 tbs vermicelli on bottom third of wrapper, near corner facing you. brush toop corner with a little egg white. lift bottom corner of wrapper over filling; pull wrapper back against filling to tighten cylinder. fold in sides; roll cylinder forward, to form a 4"-long roll about 1" thick. transfer to a platter.
3. pour oil into a large pot to a depth of 2"; heat ove medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted into oil reaches 350ยบ. fry rolls until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. using tongs, transfer rolls to a paper towel-lined plate. to serve, wrap lettuce, basi, and perilla around rolls; serve with nuoc cham.

1 tbs sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 stemmed thai chile
3 tbs sugar
1 cup warm water
4 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs fresh lime juice
1 small stemmed thai chile, sliced into thin rings
1/8 cup julienned carrot

what to do:
1. place the 1 tbs sugar, the garlic and the 1 stemmed thai chile on a cutting board and roughly chop everything together. using the side of the knife, scrape the garlic-chile mixture into a rough paste.
2. transfer the paste to a medium bowl and whisk in the remaining 3 tbs sugar and the water until the sugar dissolves. this will take about 30 seconds.
3. whisk in the fish sauce, lime juice, thai chile rings and the carrot.
4. let the sauce sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. stir well before serving. the sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

what we did and what is wrong with this picture:
first of all, this was something i wanted to take to work today and one of my work mates doesn't eat pork or beef, so i switched out the ground pork for chicken. HOWEVER, did you read the ingredients for the spring rolls and did you notice that to make 12 spring rolls on 8"square wrappers using only 2 tbs of the crab and shrimp filling that i was told to prep 8 pounds, total, of seafood? let me repeat that, 8 FREAKIN' POUNDS OF SEAFOOD TOTAL. k'yeah, i was a little flummoxed, but saveur had never let me down before and i certainly trusted they wouldn't let me down now.
i think what they meant to put down was 1/4 pound of crab, 1/4 pound of shrimp. instead, i went out and got the 8 pounds it told me to and i now have over 7 pounds of egg roll filling in my fridge.

don't get me wrong, these suckers came out really well. however, i do have quite the leftover spread to deal with. hell, even brandon liked the things and that's a big deal.

i have all this filling in my fridge and all i can think of is some sort of amazing hot pot or instead of shrimp toasts it could be seafood toasts and... ARGH! i can't let this stuff go bad (i'm sure you have some idea of how expensive 8 pounds of shellfish is), so i'm gonna cook this and send my grocery bill to saveur...
just kidding...

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