I would consider myself to be a strong person. Brave. Daring. Adventurous. Come on! I was born in the year of the Dragon! The only mythical creature in the Chinese/Vietnamese zodiac! I am so proud of that fact, that I got a huge Dragon tattoo on my back! I’m the year of the dragon, bitches! Dragons are fearless!
I cannot say, however that I, myself, am fearless. Seeing a spider will make me do the hoppy scared dance and I will squirm around until the vile creature is destroyed. I know, I know, “Spiders are our friends!” Unfortunately, anything with more than four legs gives me the chilly willies!
With all that said, we come to one of the dishes that I am often asked, begged, bribed, blackmailed(?) to make…Cua rang muối. Vietnamese-style Salt n Pepper Dungeness Crab. Sigh…did i mention anything with more that four legs gives me the heebie jeebies?
Though the end product is freaking tasty as all hell, the process in which to get said end product is where I have a wee bit of issue. When it comes to cooking Cua Rang Muối, it’s not just the easy task of dumping them into a hot boiling pot of water. No…that’d be way too easy. Instead, the crabs need to be half backed. “What the hell is that?” you may ask. Well, here’s a video of my sister demonstrating. I gotta warn you. It ain’t pretty.
Killing Krabs video.
So, that part sucks. Taking a life for food sucks, but a necessary evil when it comes to our tastebuds and tummies. But that’s by far not the suckiest part! The suckiest part is in the video too. It’s taking the gut out – no big deal. But when you are scooping the guts out from the leg parts and … wait for it … the legs are still moving????? ACCCKKKKK! This braveness…this daring and adventurous “dragon”, i.e. ME…is shuddering and shaking and screaming in fear and just overall grossed-outness. I know it’s just the nerves and stuff but still…something that moves after it has been detached from its body is so gnarly!
Ok, once all that is done, it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy. It’s a process, but at least the creepy crawly part is over. From here you just gotta coat the legs with some cornstarch and salt and pepper, flash fry the legs.
Doesn’t take long, just so they become all orange and pretty.
I create a mixture of guts, vinegar, soy sauce (use Tamari if you wanna do it Gluten-free), sesame oil and some mushroom powder. Immersion blend it all up! (unless you are serving to some straight up Asian folk….they like the chunky guts)
Sauté the guts with some olive oil and toss the legs in to coat.
You’ll end up with slimy crab legs…but you roast the crab in the oven at 375°F for about 30 minutes and that’ll finish up cooking the crab and sauce so that it’s all tasty and yummy.
All in all, watching people enjoy the crab is why I make it – is it worth going through all the nervousness and being grossed out?
It sure is. :)