Indian Ocean Crab and Prawn Curry

crab and prawn curry

I served this curry as the main course at my dinner party last night.  It’s based on Jamie Oliver’s Southern Indian Crab Curry from his book Cook with Jamie.  I kicked it up a notch (to borrow a term from another TV chef) by adding some fresh prawns and some Southeast Asian flavors like shrimp paste and lime leaves.   That’s why I call it an “Indian Ocean” curry, because it’s food from an imaginary sunny island between India and South East Asia transported to a dreary, rainy island between the Hudson and East Rivers.

  • olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 heaped teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 5 green cardamom pods, crushed and husks removed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and finely sliced (2 jalapeños turned out pretty mild, I would put in 3 or 4 next time, but I’m evil)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste (get it at Bangkok Center Grocery or Kalustyan’s)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind concentrate (Kalustyan’s again)
  • 1 large pat of  butter
  • one 14-ounce can of coconut milk
  • juice of 2 lemons or limes (I used 1 lemon and 2 limes)
  • 2 lime leaves, stem removed and thinly sliced (Bangkok Center Grocery again)
  • 1 pound of uncooked prawns, shelled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • one 1-pound can of crab meat
  • fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar or palm sugar (Or to taste. Bangkok Center Grocery and Kalustyan’s carry palm sugar)
  • a few splashes of fish sauce
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat three splashes of olive oil in a large pan and add the fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, onion, jalapeños, and shrimp paste.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until lightly golden, then add the turmeric, butter, and tamarind.

After about 2 or 3 minutes, pour in the coconut milk and a can-full of water. Bring to a light boil and turn to low heat and simmer away for 5 minutes so.  Then add the lemon/lime juice and lime leaves and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Add the prawns and crab meat simmer for 4 minutes or until the prawns cook through, and taste. Season with salt and pepper and a little more lemon juice if you think it needs it.  I also added a few splashes of fish sauce and a bit of sugar at this point.

Garnish with plenty of fresh cilantro and lemon or lime wedges if you like.  Serve with some fluffy white rice (jasmine or basmati).

See also:

Sake tasting at Bao Noodles

Bao Noodles

I attended a sake tasting and dinner organized by JETAANY on Monday night at Bao Noodles.   Chris Johnson, JET-alum, sommelier, and owner of Bao Noodles, presented a tasting of his restaurant’s Vietnamese specialties paired with Momokawa and Murai Family sake.  Chris is extremely knowledgeable about sake; he explained the different kinds of sake and how sake was made.

It was the first time I had sake with Vietnamese food, or sake with non-Japanese food for that matter.  It turned out to be a very educational experience.  It may sound strange, but it just works.  Sake is indeed a very versatile beverage.  My favorite pairing was the dessert: coconut and pandan panna cotta with nigori (unfiltered) sake.  The combination of the coconut, pandan and sake became an explosion of tropical aromas in my mouth.  Yum!

Needless to say, I wholeheartedly recommend Bao Noodles, so go check it out.

See also:

Rock Shrimp Toast

Rock Shrimp Toast

Rock Shrimp Toast
Serves 2 for lunch, or 4 as appetizers

1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
1 soft-boiled egg, peeled and mashed with a fork
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Half pound rock shrimp
Handful of parsley minced
Handful of cilantro, minced
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Half stalk celery chopped
4 slices of buttered whole wheat toast

In a mixing bowl, mix together the first 10 ingredients.

Steam the rock shrimp until opaque.  Add to the mixing bowl with the dressing.  Add tomatoes, herbs and celery and spoon onto the buttered toast.

Autumn Pantry Pasta

I improvised this pasta dish tonight out of ingredients in my fridge and pantry that I needed to use up.  Despite the wacky mix of ingredients, it actually tastes delicious!

First I sautéed 4 cloves of garlic, 1 shallot, and 4 scallions in plenty of olive oil, seasoning with some herbes de Provence, freshly ground black pepper, and dried kombu and shiitake-laced sea salt (similar to the Breakaway Cook’s umami salt, but minus the Parmesan).  Then added a bunch of white Swiss chard, sliced into ribbons, a handful of chopped walnuts, and a roughly chopped Fuji apple.  Then I added in a few splashes of 100% pure apple cider from the farmers market and a heaping spoonful of organic white miso.  I let the mixture braise on low heat for a bit until the greens wilted.  Meanwhile, I cooked up the whole wheat penne pasta.  I used the apple and chard mixture to dress the pasta, adding a bit more olive oil, and topping things off with some grated Gruyère cheese and more freshly ground black pepper.