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Tom Douglas’ Whole Dungeness Wok-Fried Crab with Ginger and Lemon Grass

Serves 1 to 2

For Lemon Grass Sauce:
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons finely minced lemon grass
2 teaspoons stemmed, seeded and minced poblano pepper
2 teaspoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
5 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Chinese chili garlic paste
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped Chinese fermented black beans
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cold water
1/4 cup sake
1 Dungeness crab (about 1 1/2 pounds), cooked, cleaned and cracked

To make the Lemon Grass Sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Sauté the lemon grass, poblano chile, shallots, ginger, and garlic until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chili garlic paste, and black beans. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the dissolved cornstarch and simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce becomes glossy and thickens, about 2 more minutes. Set aside.

To wok-fry the crab, heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok over high heat until almost smoking. Toss in the crab pieces (including the carapace or top shell), add the sake, and cover. Allow to steam 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Lemon Grass Sauce and simmer until the crab is heated through and the sauce thickens to desired consistency, about 1 to 2 minutes.

On the Plate
On a large plate or platter, arrange the crab with the carapace (top shell) back on top so it looks roughly like a whole crab again and pour all the sauce over and around it. We serve this crab with a big scoop of Aromatic Steamed Rice. We also garnish it with pea vines, a sprinkle of julienned green onions, toasted black and white sesame seeds, and a lime wedge. This is a very messy and “finger lickin’ good” dish to eat. You’ll need crab-crackers, a side bowl for the shells, a stack of napkins, and bowls of warm lemon water to clean your hands.

A Step Ahead
The Lemon Grass Sauce can be made up to a few days ahead, refrigerated, and reheated before using. The crab can be steamed, cleaned and chopped, and chilled earlier on the day you are planning to use it.

 

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