Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Soup Name

Fresh Crab Congee

Traditional Chinese Name:  

蟹粥 (xiè zhōu)

 

This crab congee is super easy to make! The key ingredient really is just the crab.  It’s a warming, traditional comfort food that can also be luxurious and delicious. If you get nice female crabs, the roe comes all out into the soup and really adds a special flavour.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 55 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of white rice

  • 10 cups of water (to start)

  • 6-7 dried scallops or conpoys

  • 7-8 slices of fresh chicken strips

  • 2 fresh female crabs, prepared and quartered

  • 1 tablespoon of preserved Chinese vegetables

  • fresh spring onions

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the crab (see my post on fresh crab on preparation), cut into quarters and set aside
  2. Prepare the fresh chicken by cutting in thin strips
  3. Begin to boil your water and throw in the rice using high heat
  4. Stir every once in awhile to ensure that the congee doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
  5. When the water boils, add in chicken strips, dried scallops (or conpoys)
  6. When the water boils again, throw in the prepared crab
  7. Continue to stir the congee occasionally and add one cup of boiling water as it thickens. How thin or thick is a personal preference, so you can add less or more water as you desire.
  8. Reduce heat to a medium simmer, cover the pot and let it continue to boil for another 30 minutes. Revisit the pot to stir it, ensuring you stir it right from the bottom.
  9. Add in the preserved Chinese vegetables and mix again.
  10. Let it boil for another 5 minutes.
  11. Serve and top with your favourite toppings such as fresh parsley, green onions, chives or any of the delicious preserved Chinese goodies like garlic, radish, baby cucumbers or pork floss

Here’s how I made it!

To start, you’ll need: 2 fresh live crabs, fresh chicken slices, ginger slices, fresh green onions, dried scallops, and preserved Chinese vegetables (as shown).

I’ve made this many times trying different types of crab.  The best and most flavourful crabs ideal for congee are smaller crabs that really aren’t as expensive (at around $70 HKD per crab). While they are smaller, the seem to seep a crab-y and seafood, ocean flavour into the congee, including the roe and cream of the crab into the soup.  I’ve also tried more expensive crab (at around $170 HKD per crab) which had more meat, but somehow, it was more just crab by itself and the congee by itself – the two never really blended.  But definitely explore yourself and see what works best for you and your family.

You can see my other post on how to prepare fresh crab. A few tips:

  • Using a big knife, chop off the sharp edges of the legs, shell, claws and any other sharp parts
  • Using also the back side of a big knife, create cracks in the legs and hard places (so that you can easily eat it out of the congee)
  • Do not throw away any of the eggs, roe, or cream (found at the head primarily) – the Chinese call these the best parts!
  • Buy female crabs

Slice the fresh chicken into thin strips. How much you use is really up to you. Since I like my protein, I tend to add more protein everywhere I go! The dried scallops can also be rinsed under warm water ahead of use. And take a few slices of fresh ginger. I tend to keep the pieces quite large so that I can isolate them in the congee and not scoop them out. I also don’t use a lot as I am not a fan of ginger and neither are the children, but you do need a little bit to eliminate any fishy taste in the congee, although I find the crab doesn’t really emit this. 

Start boiling your congee water (the bigger the pot, the better!) it’s easier to add more hot water than let it reduce to the appropriate amount. I’ll throw in the rice right away and wait until the water boils. Once it boils, I will add in the chicken, scallops, and ginger.

    Once that boils, then feel free to add in the prepared crab. Be sure to stir this pretty often to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.  This will also help keep the heat even throughout the pot as it might be quite crowded with all the stuff inside.

    Boil this on medium heat for another 30 minutes.  The rice will thicken and you can add a cup of boiling water (or really hot water from the nice Chinese hot water boilers) to thin it out.  How thick you’d like your soup is completely up to personal preference. I like my congee a bit thinner, with more liquid, but this is up to you.

    When it’s almost done (with about another 5 minutes until serving), throw in a handful of preserved Chinese vegetables.  I use a very specific one that comes in a ceramic pot and is called “dong choy”.  It’s very salty, so use with caution. I don’t add any additional salt after that.

      When ready, serve and enjoy! I also top with chives or parsley or fresh green onions.  There’s also some other cool Chinese condiments that go with congee, such as preserved baby cucumbers, radish, onions, shallots, dried pork floss, or vinegar soaked garlic.

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        Fresh Crab

        Fresh Crab

        Fresh Crab

        Ingredient Name:  Fresh Crab

        Traditional Chinese Name: 蟹 (xiè)

        What is this?

        • The crab is a crustacean with a short tail and typically two large claws and multiple legs
        • Crabs often have hard shells, but there are species of soft-shelled crabs
        • The most edible types of crabs include: flower crabs, snow crabs , blue crabs, edible or brown crabs , Dungeness crab, and mud crabs
        • Crabs primarily come from the ocean, but there are crabs that are extracted from fresh water (most popular in Asia is the Shanghainese Hairy Crabs available around Oct – Nov of every year)
        • Crabs are used in various dishes across Chinese dishes such as stir-fried, with noodles, steamed, in congee, or in soup.

        How do I prepare it?

        • The Chinese way is to peel off the shell (as quickly as possible) and then chop the crab down the middle in half ensuring it’s completely dead
        • Also remove the gills and brain (would recommend you google where these parts are) and then quarter them for congee. Don’t throw anything else – especially the jiggly, yellow, green, or orange “cream” – this is the best part and comes out into whatever dish you are making
        • You can rinse in warm running water if you’d like
        • Another way to prepare crab is to simply steam them in boiling water – or drop them in a pot of boiling water. This is if you want to eat the crabs as is.

        Where can I buy this?

        • In Asia, especially in Hong Kong, the best and freshest crabs come from the wet marts (or supermarkets)
        • Be sure to buy the crabs that are moving and whole
        • If they are tied up, press right between their eyes and there should be movement, indicating they are still alive
        • You can keep them alive in water at home until you’re ready to cook them (or in the fridge)

        What is the cost?

        • This really depends on the breed, size, location, and season
        • When I bought mine around Autumn, with a nice fresh water crab, they cost $100 HKD each (and not very large)

        Any benefits?

        • Crab meat is extremely low in fat and high in protein
        • Crabs are rich in chromium, which helps insulin to metabolize sugar, and thereby lowers the blood glucose levels in the body
        • Crabs have a healthy dose of antioxidants, which help help kill free radicals in the body (free radicals are what make you age)
        • Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids

        Any precautions?

        • The cream of the crab is extremely high in cholesterol and should be avoided by those who need to watch their intake
        • Don’t overcook the crab meat, this will destroy a lot of the vitamins and minerals contained within the meat
        • Be careful of the claws and potentially sharp points in the legs and head
        • When serving children, be sure to fully check for any sharp parts of the crab, especially if you’re making soup or congee, the parts of the crab will dissintegrate

         

        Fresh crab (ready for congee)

        Fresh crab (ready for congee)

        Lobster Broth

        lobster_soup02_web-2

         

        Lobster is a popular seafood in Chinese cuisine.  Traditionally, it can be fried with ginger and scallions, or for a modern take, Chinese restaurants are increasingly offering lobster cooked in a creamy cheese sauce atop a bed of tender egg noodles. As with most proteins, when you’re finished eating the actual dish, don’t toss the left-over bones or shells! Save them because they can be used to create a delicious soup instead.  Lobster shells are the perfect base for a seafood broth, particularly the head which contains a lot of the rich creamy roe and flavours.

        Soup Name: Lobster Broth

        Traditional Chinese Name:  龍蝦湯 (lóngxiā tāng)

        For this particular soup, we quickly devoured the meat of three small, boiled lobsters (we dipped the meat in salted butter of course) and carefully saved the shells, including the back, legs, claws and especially the whole heads. When making lobster broth, leaving the meat in the shells seems wasteful as I don’t feel the meat contributes that much flavour to the richness of the broth, so feel free to enjoy the meat separately first.

        In the below recipe, stir-frying the ingredients first is optional — however I find it does help to bring out the flavours, particularly if the shells are slightly caramelized around the outside.  Also, feel free to add carrots and other root vegetables to create a hearty, healthy meal.

        As a tip, when making any seafood soup (or seafood dish), one of the key ingredients when cooking in a Chinese-style is to use fresh ginger.  Not only does ginger add to the complex flavours of the seafood, it is also key because it cuts through any potential fishy tastes and smells.

        The below recipe can be used stand-alone (as a soup), as the soup base for noodles, or it can also be poured on top of cooked rice to make a sort of lazy Chiu Chow-style congee.  Enjoy!

        Lobster Broth
        Recipe Type: Soup
        Cuisine: Chinese
        Author: LadyTong
        Prep time:
        Cook time:
        Total time:
        Serves: 6 bowls
        Ingredients
        • 2 L water
        • 3 lobster shells (with head)
        • 5 slices of ginger
        • 1 garlic clove
        • 1 small onion
        • 1 stalk, spring onion
        • Salt to taste
        Instructions
        1. Start boiling the water in a large soup pot
        2. Stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger in 1 tbsp of cooking oil for 3 minutes until onions are soft (stir-frying is optional, but will help to enhance the flavours)
        3. Add the lobster shells and spring onion and stir-fry for another 5 minutes (optional)
        4. Put everything into the soup water (on high heat)
        5. When the water is boiling, turn down the heat to medium and continue to boil for 1 hour.
        6. Once in a while, use the [url href=”http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/oil-scooper/”]oil scooper[/url] to scoop out extra oil and foam that may rise to the surface
        7. Add salt to taste (I use about 1 tsp)
        8. Serve and enjoy

         

        Lobster

        lobster_soup01_web-2

        Ingredient Name:  Lobster

        Traditional Chinese Name: 龍 蝦 (lóngxiā)

        What is this?

        • A type of shellfish
        • A large, 10-legged marine crustacean with a cylindrical body closely related to shrimp and crabs
        • For eating, lobsters are traditionally steamed or boiled and the meat extracted from inside the shell
        • Once the meat has been eaten, the remaining lobster shell and the head can make a great base for soup

        How do I prepare it?

        • The easiest method to cook lobster is to boil it in salted water for approximately 15 minutes (times may vary depending on the size of the lobster)
        • Using a nutcracker, remove the meat and enjoy separately (Tip: it tastes great dipped in butter)
        • Save the shell and head for your soup

        Where can I buy this?

        • Most international grocery stores will sell lobster
        • Typically, spring through autumn is lobster season
        • It is best to buy live lobster, with their tails flapped or curled up

        What is the cost?

        • Lobster prices vary depending on the season.  The lobster featured above cost $80 HKD each.

        Any benefits?

        • Bones (any animal) are an excellent source of nutrients and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and silicon
        • The broth created from bones are easy to digest, are high in amino acids, collagen and gelatin
        • Bones broth is actually known to help fight colds and viruses because of these amino acids that help boost immune system and heal disorders like allergies, asthma and arthritis
        • Nothing beats real stock with real bones – store bought stock (which are primarily enhanced with flavour enhancers) has nothing over real stock

        Any precautions?

        • Lobsters are low in fat content and relatively low in cholesterol
        • They are a good source of omega 3-fatty acids and phosphorus, which aids in the formation of teeth and bones
        • Lobsters are also a good source of selenium, B12, Vitamin E and Niacin

        Mussels (Dried)

        Ingredient Name: Baby Mussels (dried)

        Traditional Chinese Name: 青口幹 (qīng kǒu gàn)

        What is this?

        • A dried and processed type of salt of fresh water shellfish of the clam family with elongated shells
        • The shells are often black, brown, beige in color and are found without the shells when they are used in soups
        • The mussels used in these soups are smaller in size
        • Dried and prepared mussels are more commonly used in Chinese soups than fresh mussels (which are not common at all)
        • Dried mussels are also used in various Chinese dishes along with black moss
        • They are often tougher in texture than their relative clams and to some are an acquired taste

        How do I prepare it?

        • Soak in water for 10-15 minutes and rinse before usage

        Where can I buy this?

        • You can buy dried mussels at supermarkets, wet marts or Chinese herbalists
        • Canned, processed mussels can also be used for soups – which are available at supermarkets

        What is the cost

        • The prices vary depending on size, breed, availability and whether they are imported or organic

        Any benefits?

        • Mussels are an excellent source of B12, Selenium, Zinc, Iron and folate
        • They are also an excellent source of protein
        • Compared to meats, they have less fat
        • They are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (which help reduce heart disease)

        Any precautions?

        • Be sure to buy from a reputable source
        • Dried and processed mussels should have a salty, fragrant smell to them so be sure to take a good whiff before purchasing (this is more common to the bulk buys available in Asian markets)

        Additional Information

        • Dried mussels can be kept frozen for up to 6 months (and taken out when needed for soups)
        • Dried mussels can also be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months in a sealed container
        • Keep mussels in a dry environment