Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes and apparently, from all places. For me, it came from my coma-inducing meals on the streets of Thailand where I vowed to begin challenging myself to start crafting newer recipes with some of my favorite Southeast Asian ingredients (think kaffir limes and lemongrass). I know it’s hard for you to imagine that even I, yes, Spicy Green Mango, gets into a rut when it comes to figuring out what to cook for dinner or how to break out of my humdrum routine, but alas, I am only human (albeit a human on the blogosphere).
The opportunity came about a week ago when I entered my recipe into the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program and was among 12 of the lucky featured publishers selected to showcase my creation. When I read the prized ingredients that we were to choose from, I nearly choked on the piece of chicken I had in my mouth. Oh, dear…I must learn how to control my excitement (I’m sure in due time, I’ll become more civilized in my ways).
So, friends, you’re in for a real treat b/c it’s been a while since I posted a recipe. But how could I resist when the folks of Alaska Seafood said they’d send me 10 lbs of their wild, natural and sustainable King Crab legs? So, I didn’t.
While the idea of King Crabs was already a kicker for me (and my hubby who is an avid fan of the The Deadliest Catch), it was also the fact that the the Alaskas seafood industry is a prime example for sustainability which really made me want to delve further into their business model (Forgive me, it’s the business nerd talking).
So, what exactly is sustainable seafood? In a nutshell, it’s seafood that’s managed by fisheries that adhere to environmental standards in fishing practices, therefore ensuring that there will be more fishies and other seafood for us to eat in the future. And did you know that Alaska is the only state that has a mandate written into their Constitution for sustainable seafood? Cool, eh?
And while I realize that there have been ongoing health concerns over the consumption of seafood, it may be helpful to point out that eating seafood that is sustainably harvested is probably your best bet when it comes to getting your heart and brain in tip top condition (thank you, Omega-3 fatties).
Now, onward to the salivation: Imagine sinking your chompers into succulent morsels of Alaska King Crab meat flavored with a tantalizing combination of fragrant lemongrass, kaffir limes and sweet chili marinade. And then, opening up your own steamed parcel of King crab wrapped in fresh (homegrown) banana leaves that's been cooked to perfection with an aroma that will blow you away!
Sweet Chili-Rubbed Lemongrass-Steamed Alaska King Crab in Banana Leaves
Makes about 10 mini banana leaf pouches
• 1-1.5 lbs of Alaska King Crab legs, frozen and chopped into 1” segments
• ½ of 1 lemon or lime, juiced
• ¼ lbs of baby mushrooms (shimeji, shitake or oyster will work fine)
• 1-2 tbs of fish sauce (vary according to personal taste)
• 1 tbs sweet roasted chili soy bean paste
• 1 tbs of Thai tom yum paste
• 3 sprigs of cilantro, finely chopped
• 3 kaffir limes leaves, finely chopped
• 1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
• 3 medium sized banana leaves, cleaned, prepped*, and cut into letter-size sheets
• 2-2.5 cups of water for steaming
• Optional: 3 Thai/Lao chili peppers, sliced
Other handy kitchen items:
• 1 sturdy meat cleaver
• 10-20 toothpicks
• 1 large steamer
Since this is a Cook It Frozen! recipe, it’s not necessary to thaw the crab legs. In fact, it’s MUCH easier and LESS messier to chop the legs into segments when they’re frozen. Be sure to use a meat cleaver b/c the shells are tough, but they are soo worth the effort! Fill the bottom of your steamer pot with water and bring to a boil.
As you wait for the water to boil, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, making sure to rub each of the frozen King Crab segments with the chili and tom yum paste. Next, gather a small handful of the mixture and place them in the center of a sheet of banana leaf. Now, there’s really no rhyme or reason as to how to fold the pouch, so get creative with it and remember to seal the top with a toothpick (or two). I made spicy and non-spicy versions of the dish, so I used the toothpick technique to distinguish between the two options.
Finally, steam the pouches for about 15-20 minutes and that's it! Dig in, folks! Don't forget to brace yourself for unveilng the mini pouches--our guests had eyes wide open and forks already in hand when we opened our first banana leaf. Needless to say the 1st one was gone in less than 60 seconds!
NOTE: Eventhough the dish doesn’t seem to have much juice, don’t be alarmed. As the crabs steam in the banana leaves, the water from the frozen crab legs become a juicy broth that’s flavored with the herbs and spices from your rub.
* Prepping the banana leaves: I got my banana leaves from my mom’s backyard, but I understand that may not be feasible for everyone. As an alternative, you can also use parchment paper or aluminum foil to wrap the crab.
You’ll need 3 medium sized leaves. Discard the fibrous vein running through the middle of each leaf. Now, if you simply attempt to wrap the King Crabs with each leaf at this point, you’ll realize that the leaf will start to tear. To prevent the tears form occurring so that you can fold them into pouches, you’ll need to prep each leaf.
Turn on your gas stove burner to a low medium heat and using some heat resistant gloves, carefully hold each leaf about 5 inches above of the flame and gently heat the leaf. You’ll notice that as the parts of the leaf is heated, it will turn from its vibrant green to a slightly brown hue. At this point, the leaf is also somewhat softer and ready to be folded.
My dear hubby also whipped up his famous king crab stir fry recipe with the remaining 8lbs or so of crab legs and that generously fed over 15 of us at the lunch table. The recipe is pretty simple as well:
Stir Fried Alaska King Crab w/Thai Basil & Sweet Chili Sauce
Serves at least 15 salivating souls
• 8 lbs of Alaska King Crab legs, frozen and chopped into 2” segments
• 3-4 tbs of oyster sauce
• 3-4 tbs of fish sauce
• 3 tbs sweet roasted chili soy bean paste
• 1 tbs of Thai tom yum paste
• 1 bunch of Thai basil, leaves individually plucked
• ½ lbs of assorted variety mushrooms (I used baby oysters & shitake)
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely minced
• 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
• 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oil in a wok under medium heat and add the garlic and onions and sautee until onions are translucent. Add the King Crab legs and the rest of the ingredients with only half of the basil. Reserve the other half and throw it in the stir fry a few minutes before you turn off the heat. Stir fry and cover for 10-15 minutes or just until the crabs are nice and heated through. Remember, King Crab legs are generally pre-cooked already so you just need to heat them up. And that's it! Easy, fresh and it's definitely sure to please your guests.