Stir-Fried Dancing Crab With Fresno Chile Rings
Serves 2 as a main course, 3 to 4 as part of a multicourse meal.
from "China Moon," by Barbara Tropp (Workman Publishing, 1992). These instructions call for par-cooking live crab to preserve freshness. If don't want to kill the crab yourself, ask your fishmonger to crack and clean the crab for you, but make sure to cook it as soon as possible. You can then stir-fry the raw crab without par-cooking.
- 2 large fresh Dungeness crabs
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Chinese fermented black beans (do not rinse them)
- 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
- 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
- 2 ounces coarsely ground pork butt
- 1/2 teaspoon paper-thin rings of red Fresno chile
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
- -- Slivered green onions, for garnish
Instructions: To par-cook the crabs, bring a large pot of water to a gushing boil. Drop the crabs into the pot and when they stop moving, in about 1 minute, retrieve the crabs with tongs and set aside to drain and let cool a bit. To clean each crab, turn it belly-side up. Tear off the "key" or "apron," which is recessed in the belly, then firmly grasp the top shell at the rear end and pull it off. Discard the top shell and the sets of feathery gills in the body of the crab, then rinse the crab with cool water.
To portion the crab, snap off the legs and claws and crack them lightly with a mallet or the handle end of a cleaver, which will allow the seasonings to penetrate. Then, with a cleaver or heavy knife, chop the body into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on the size of the crabs.
In a medium bowl, combine the black beans with the rice wine or sherry; set aside for 20 minutes to infuse the wine. Drain the beans and reserve the wine. Combine the black beans, ginger, garlic and green onions in a bowl, cover and set aside. In another bowl, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce and sugar; set aside.
All of the above steps may be done a night in advance, but make sure to seal and refrigerate the ingredients, and bring to room temperature before cooking.
About 15 minutes before serving, heat a wok or large heavy skillet until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add the oil and swirl to glaze the pan. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a green onion ring, add the black bean mixture and stir until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds, adjusting the heat so it foams without browning.
Add the pork and stir-fry for about a minute; add the chili rings and crab, and toss to combine. Splash the reserved wine in the pan, tossing the crab several times to evaporate the wine. Stir the chicken stock mixture and add to the pan. Even out the crab in the pan and raise the heat to bring the liquids to a boil. Cover the pan and cook until the liquids are reduced by three-fourths and the crab is cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to moderate, stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine