Saturday, December 17, 2011

raw cured blue crab

cured crabcured crab

I don't get squeamish about food, but this is something I can only eat with the right frame of mind. Raw blue crab, cured in a salt bath. It's an ultra traditional dish originating in the coastal Chinese town of Ningbo, my great-grandfather's hometown. Once in season, crabs are cured live in heavy salt, firming up the meat and imparting flavour. Another effect is the ability to keep without spoiling for a few weeks. Locals eat it raw with rice porridge. The orange matter is particularly delicious, full of savoury marine flavour.

My parents have this church friend who comes from Ningbo. She prepared these for us, which seems a bit of a miracle because there has been a terrible shortage of blue crab this year. She puts them live in the freezer, which kills them, then marinates them in a salt bath for a few days. The texture of the meat is soft, squishy almost. The crabs were a great quality, as you can from the amount of orange matter they contained. Delicious, but you really do have to grow up eating this stuff to be able to appreciate it. Now, with any luck, next year's crab harvest will be a good one, so we can do it another way, with Shaoxing wine.


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