Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gearing up for the next GFC...NOT!

Another GFC is apparently threatening. This time around food replaces financial. Global food supplies are on a knife’s edge according to some reports. So, before food security becomes a full blown issue I better start learning how to grow my own.

Honestly though, my intentions have less to do with the looming crisis but more about making the most of my idle garden plots.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve invested time tidying up my garden. I’m less interested in ornamental that’s why I went full blown edibles when deciding what to plant. I figured I can do more with a chilli plant than say geraniums. By the way, did you know that geranium is both a flower and a colour? I digress...

Here’s a snapshot of what I currently have:

Guava - I got a big surprise a couple of years ago to discover a guava tree happily growing in our backyard. Just goes to show that apart from the kitchen I venture very little to other parts of the property. We’ve harvested a decent amount of fruit from this solitary tree. None of them feature on any of my recipes as the rest of my tribe are not so fond of “cooked” guava.

Coriander – an essential to Asian cooking. Not so much in the Philippines but definitely in most parts of Asia. Great for curries.

Chillies – this is the long and thin variety Filipinos use to spice up a sinigang (Filipino hot & sour soup). Also works well as a “hot” addition to condiments.

Pechay (Bok Choy) – a very versatile Asian green perfect for soups and stir fries.

Mustasa (Mustard greens, leaf mustard, Gai Choy) – has got a distinct horseradish/mustard flavour. In the Philippines it is mainly added to soups. In other parts of Asia though, specifically Vietnam, it used as a salad wrap.

Eggplant – no fruit yet obviously. It’s the Lebanese variety. Best served grilled together with barbecued meats and seafood.

Flat leaf parsley – I prefer this to the curly variety. The flavour is more robust. I mainly use this with meatballs and roasts.

Mint – great for salads. Adds freshness to a dish.

Calamansi (Philippine Limes) – last but not the least my favourite citrus variety in the whole world. If you have been following this blog you’ll know I have been quite unsuccessful in growing this. I think my luck has changed as I am now able to mature the fruits. But at the current rate of 1-2 fruit/s per month I still need a lot of help.

I've also got basil and lemon grass and did manage to grow a pineapple. I'll be adding more in the next few weeks time and space permitting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Salt & Pepper Mud Crab ala Beancounter

Over the weekend my dad got hold of these massive mud crabs. Guess who he called first to share the experience? No surprises there. Ahh, the benefits of a foodie’s son… My being a “foodie” I owe a lot to him. He doesn’t refer to himself as such but he definitely is one. We don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things but when it comes to food we almost always agree.

By the way, there’s no exaggeration in the word “massive.” These crabs (claws closed and folded) were longer in length than a Pringles (potato chips) canister. I took several photos comparing the two to give you some perspective but I wasn’t happy with them so I decided not to post any. You just have to trust me.

I would normally head the Singapore style Chilli Crab direction but somehow it did not feel right on that occasion. I wanted to make the most of such excellent produce. Heavy sauce I thought would mask all that fresh crab goodness. So instead, I went the Salt & Pepper route.

I’ve only done this recipe using prawns. Crab is not that much of a deviation I figured.

Because of the size of these mud crabs I only used one in this recipe. It was enough to keep two people happy.

Salt & Pepper Mud Crab ala Beancounter

1 large mud crab cleaned and quartered.

Seasoned flour (cornflour or plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper)

Lots of oil for deep frying

1 onion chopped

2-3 cloves garlic chopped

1 chilli chopped

1 tablespoon salt

½ tablespoon sugar

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Spring onions chopped

  1. In a hot pan dry roast the salt, sugar and pepper. This should probably take less than 5 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.
  2. Heat up lots of oil for deep frying.
  3. Dust the crab pieces in seasoned flour. Deep fry these till cooked. The timing depends on how big the pieces are. Set aside.
  4. In a large wok, heat up a bit of oil. Sauté the onion, garlic and chillies for a couple of minutes.
  5. Throw in the crab piece and toss for a couple more minutes.
  6. Sprinkle your pre-prepared salt/sugar/pepper mixture and toss a bit more. Add the spring onions just before serving.