One of the perks of travelling is to try out local delicacies (and be surprised by how they make use of a prized ingredient to churn out a delectable dish that is so different from the dishes you savour back home.) Crabs, for instance, feature prominently on the menu in many national cuisines. Apart from crabs' health benefits that will help build your immune system, picking apart the legs and claws in pursuit of juicy meat with your friends and family makes for a great shared experience. Without further ado, let's learn about how crabs are used in 5 mouth-watering dishes from 5 different countries.
1. Singapore-style Chili Crabs
Singaporeans have a soft spot for spicy stuff - some of us are known to bring along their sambal chili paste even when they travel overseas. That's just how we are addicted to fiery food. It's no wonder that chili crab is one of our national dishes as its tangy and savory sauce tantalizes our tastebuds and leaves us craving for more. In fact, chili crab often comes with deep-fried mantous (Chinese steamed buns) because the luxurious sauce, combined with the crunchy mantou, makes for a potent mix.
Those of you who don't take spicy food need not worry. Although some versions of the chili crab spike your palate with their spices like turmeric, ginger and blue ginger, other versions taste rather more sweet than spicy. Traipse around our island and before long, I guarantee you will find a chili crab restaurant that you will pledge your loyalty to.
Not that rankings should affect your decision as to whether you ought to try out a particular dish, but just so you know, chili crab was ranked a respectable 35th position on a list of World's 50 best foods determined by CNN Go in 2011;).
2. Malaysia-style Creamy Butter Crab
Not one for the faint-hearted, for this dish uses butter, curry leaves and evaporated milk to create sinfully rich and fragrant flavors that seduce your tastebuds. Thankfully, your diet will be the last thing on your mind as you take in the piquant taste of the bird's eye chili peppers that somehow contrasts and complements nicely with the richness of butter and evaporated milk.
Just like how you would eat chili crabs in Singapore, creamy butter crabs in Malaysia come with fried mantous as well, so don't hesitate to sop up every ounce of the creamy butter sauce. Many restaurants also offer cheese prawn vermicelli on their menu, so be sure to order that and revel in everything creamy and luscious.
3. Thai-style Curry Crabs
Curry and crabs go well together - a powerful pairing set to electrify your appetite as illustrated by curry crabs in Thailand. Here, the mud crabs are doused in a tasty curry sauce that includes eggs, spring onions and red peppers. The Thais don't really eat their crabs with mantous, so be sure to order a bowl of rice to go along with your curry crabs so as not to let the delicious sauce go to waste. Still, sipping a cold glass of Chang beer while tucking into rice favoured with the curry sauce will turn out to be a wonderful memory during your trip to Thailand.
In Bangkok, curry crabs are almost synonymous with the restaurant called Somboon Seafood. Such is the popularity of this restaurant that it has even been reviewed in prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal. I highly recommend that you check out Somboon Seafood for yourself but please be careful: cunning cab drivers will trick unwitting foreigners into thinking that Somboon Seafood is closed down and bring them to the similar-sounding Somboondee Restaurant, where they will be charged exorbitant prices for average tasting crabs.
4. Macau-style Crab Porridge
Speaking of rice, the Macanese take it one step further than the Thais as they don't eat crabs and rice separately but enjoy them together in the form of a rich and savory broth of crab congee. Just as curry crabs is to Somboon Seafood, crab porridge is to Seng Cheong. Seng Cheong is a famous restaurant at Taipa Village.
Great porridge will entice your tastebuds by being thick, silky-smooth and creamy - a criteria that Seng Cheong's crab porridge fulfills admirably. However, it is one level up than the usual congee as its creaminess is accentuated by the sweetness of the fresh water crabs. What's more, its attractive yellowish look brought about by the crab's rich, yellow hepatonpancreas should whet your appetite a little and evoke an urge to order another bowl of crab congee...
5. Italian-style Crabs with Handmade Noodles
Located in the Venetian Lagoon, it's no wonder that Venice, Italy is blessed with an abundant supply of fresh and tender seafood. The Venetian people will pair a spider crab (granceola in Italian) found in this lagoon with handmade pasta noodles, and season it with fresh tomatoes and fine olive oil. The final product boasts a wonderfully moist and soft texture that is easy on your palate.
Add prosecco (white sparkling wine) to the mix, and you will be set for a lovely and romantic evening!
I'm sure these five crab delicacies would have you salivating by now. But wait, there's more! The Chinese swear by their crab and corn soup, while the Japanese flock to Hokkaido to enjoy crabs together with chanchan-yaki (cooked seafood with vegetables on a hot iron plate), The culinary possibilities offered by crabs are endless. I hope that this article will enlighten you on the different ways crabs are eaten in different parts of the world and psych you up about trying them yourself.